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Ronald C. White

Bestselling author on Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant

  • About Ronald C. White

    Ronald C. White is the author of Lincoln: A Biography, a New York Times, Washington Post, and Los Angeles Times bestseller. He is also the author of the bestsellers Lincoln’s Greatest Speech: The Second Inaugural, honored as a New York Times Notable Book of 2002, and The Eloquent President: A Portrait of Lincoln Through His Words. He has written Op-Eds appearing in the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and Christian Science Monitor. His best-selling presidential biography, American Ulysses: A Life of Ulysses S. Grant, offers a surprising portrait that reshapes our understanding of an American hero. For his work, White received the 2017 William Henry Seward Award for Excellence in Civil War Biography, award by the Civil War Forum of Metropolitan New York.

    A frequent and popular speaker, White brings history alive to give context to today’s issues. As one of the foremost biographers of Abraham Lincoln, White draws audiences in with new insights into Lincoln’s life and legacy as a lawyer, politician, and president. In his lectures on Ulysses S. Grant, White refocuses the life of self-effacing American Ulysses who points beyond himself to a panoply of enduring values. White has lectured at the White House and been interviewed on PBS News Hour.

    He is a graduate of UCLA and Princeton Theological Seminary with a Ph.D. in Religion and History from Princeton University. He has taught at UCLA, Princeton Theological Seminary, Whitworth University, Colorado College, Rider University, and San Francisco Theological Seminary. He is a Fellow at the Huntington Library and a Senior Fellow of The Trinity Forum. He received the Doctor of Humane Letters from Whitworth University in 2009. He lives with his wife, Cynthia, in La Cañada, California.

    White’s forthcoming books are Lincoln in Private: What His Most Personal Reflections Tell Us About Our Greatest President [May 4, 2021], and Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain: A Biography [2023], both to be published by Random House.

  • Speaking Topics

    Lessons on Leadership

    In October 2019, the Library of Congress invited Ronald C. White to speak to members of Congress on “Lessons on Leadership from Lincoln and Grant.” In the discussion that followed members voiced their concern for a crisis of leadership in every segment of society. In a fresh presentation that includes insights from this discussion and his new book Lincoln in Private, White suggests principles relevant to this tumultuous current moment.

    Abraham Lincoln: Wisdom for Today

    Keeping in mind that Abraham Lincoln is a 19th century leader, Ronald C. White, presents excerpts from Lincoln’s speeches, letters, and notes to himself to show how Lincoln’s wisdom—as a lawyer, politician, president, and commander in chief— can still speak to us today. Join in the discovery of Lincoln’s artistry with words and discover how for our divided nation Lincoln’s inclusive words offer a powerful contemporary call for reconciliation.

    Unfinished America

    On the eve of his inauguration, Abraham Lincoln declared, “I shall be most happy indeed if I shall be an humble instrument in the hands of the Almighty, and this, his almost chosen people.” In this electrifying lecture, White explores the contentious contemporary debate over the meaning of America by invoking past leaders who understood the “almost,” the unfinished nature, of the American experiment. Drawing on portraits of Lincoln, Katherine Lee Bates, author of America the Beautiful, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Republican Senator Mark O. Hatfield, a vocal opponent of the Vietnam War, White points to these “honest patriots,” willing both to commend and to criticize, as the best path forward to fulfill the American dream.

    Ulysses S. Grant: A Fresh Look at American Leadership

    Ronald C. White refocuses American hero Ulysses S. Grant for the 21st century. Decisive yet self-effacing, overcoming multiple trials as a young man, Grant led the North to victory in the Civil War and then offered a surprisingly magnanimous peace to Robert E. Lee and the defeated South. In the politics of our day, chockfull of cynicism and peopled by big personalities, White refocuses the life of self-effacing American Ulysses who points beyond himself to a panoply of enduring values.

  • Video

  • Praise for Ronald C. White

    Praise for Lincoln in Private

    This engaging volume captures the private thoughts of a man who often still feels like an enigma more than a century-and-a-half after his death. Through insightful analysis, Ronald C. White enables us to better understand Lincoln and to better comprehend how the political and cultural landscape nurtured his thinking. Lincoln in Private is essential reading for both scholars and general audiences alike.

    Edna Greene Medford, Ph.D., author of Lincoln and Emancipation

    Out of long-forgotten memoranda, Ronald C. White has managed to construct a major Lincoln study that truly illuminates the life and philosophy of our greatest president.  This is an exceptional feat of research, reconstruction, and re-analysis. It deserves a place on every bookshelf alongside Lincoln’s collected works and of course, White’s own books.

    Harold Holzer, author of Lincoln and the Power of the Press and winner of the Lincoln Prize

    Abraham Lincoln rendered the nation's enduring tensions and purposes in unforgettable prose. Yet Lincoln did some of his best writing in small fragments, personal notes and memos that illuminate his thinking anew. By assembling and expertly explicating these gems, Ronald C. White has made a singular and valuable contribution to the literature on our greatest president.

    Sean Wilentz, author of The Rise of American Democracy

    Abraham Lincoln's habit of jotting ideas and reflections on scraps of paper and placing them in a desk drawer to be drawn upon later for speeches, letters, and official documents has enabled Ronald C. White to offer important new insights on Lincoln's thought processes in this fascinating book.

    James M. McPherson, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Tried By War: Abraham Lincoln as Commander in Chief and Battle Cry for Freedom

    An intimate character portrait and fascinating inquiry into the basis of Lincoln’s energetic, curious mind. . . . We see in Lincoln’s fragments a poised and resolute intellectual. We also see a vulnerable individual humbled by the precariousness of the nation and of its vast, uncertain future. . . . As Mr. White shows so persuasively, Lincoln’s quiet, personal moments laid the foundation for his enduring public legacy.

    Wall Street Journal

    These selected personal notes form chapters that describe Lincoln’s life in private moments. As a whole, they create a unique, intimate, highly readable, and personable biography of Abraham Lincoln.

    New York Journal of Books

    Praise for American Ulysses

    White delineates Grant’s virtues better than any author before. . . . By the end, readers will see how fortunate the nation was that Grant went into the world—to save the Union, to lead it and, on his deathbed, to write one of the finest memoirs in all of American letters.

    T.J. Stiles, The New York Times Book Review

    Superb . . . illuminating, inspiring and deeply moving . . . The Grant we meet in American Ulysses is richly deserving of a fuller understanding and of celebration for the man he was and the legacy he left us.

    Chicago Tribune

    Ronald White has restored Ulysses S. Grant to his proper place in history with a biography whose breadth and tone suit the man perfectly. Like Grant himself, this book will have staying power.

    The Wall Street Journal

    Magisterial . . . Grant’s esteem in the eyes of historians has increased significantly in the last generation. . . . [American Ulysses] is the newest heavyweight champion in this movement.

    The Boston Globe

    In this thorough and engaging new book, Ronald C. White restores U.S. Grant to the pantheon of great Americans. As a soldier and a president, Grant rendered his nation invaluable service, and White’s epic biography is invaluable as well.

    Jon Meacham, Pulitzer Prize winner and #1 New York Times bestselling author the generations after his death in 1885, Grant’s reputation as a general and president spiraled downward until a current generation of biographers and historians has persuasively resurrected it. Ron White’s American Ulysses represents a culmination of that process. In elegant prose he gives us not only the public Grant who won the war and defended equal racial rights as president but also the private person as husband, father, and everyman who met misfortune without self-pity.

    James McPherson, author of Battle Cry of Freedom, winner of the Pulitzer Prize

    Praise for The Eloquent President

    Outstanding . . . Lincoln’s eloquence was of such a rare kind. Ronald C. White captures its qualities admirably.

    The Wall Street Journal

    An insightful, highly readable exploration of literary genius.

    The Washington Post Book World

    Praise for A. Lincoln

    The torrent of Lincoln books past and present . . . means that the bar is necessarily set high. A. Lincoln . . . [is] among the most substantial new entrants.

    The Economist

    This thoroughly researched book belongs on the A-list of major biographies of the tall Illinoisian; it’s a worthy companion for all who admire Lincoln’s prose and his ability to see into, and explain, America’s greatest crisis.

    The Washington Post Book World
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