Michael Beschloss Profile

Described by Newsweek as “the nation’s leading Presidential historian,” Michael Beschloss is an award-winning historian, author of nine bestselling books and NBC News special correspondent. He recently co-authored the New York Times #1 bestseller Jacqueline Kennedy: Historic Conversations on Life with John F. Kennedy with Caroline Kennedy, and his history of American presidents in wartime from James Madison to George W Bush will be published this year.

Called “easily the most widely recognized presidential historian in the United States,” by The New York Times Book Review, and named as “a national treasure” by Albert Hunt of Bloomberg News, Beschloss holds a unique position as the NBC News Presidential Historian. He also makes regular contributions to PBS NewsHour, and in 2005 he was awarded an Emmy for creating and hosting the Discovery Channel series Decisions that Shook the World.

Educated at Phillips Academy (Andover) and Williams College, Beschloss holds an advanced degree from Harvard Business School. He has held positions as historian on the staff of the Smithsonian Institution, senior associate member of Oxford University and as senior fellow of the Annenberg Foundation in Washington DC.

Beschloss’ highly praised works have included Kennedy and Roosevelt: The Uneasy Alliance, Presidential Courage: Brave Leaders and How They Changed America, 1789-1989 and Taking Charge and Reaching for Glory, these last two, concerning President Johnson’s secret tapes, being called “sheer marvelous history” by The Wall Street Journal and “an important event” by The New York Times.

A trustee of the White House Historical Association, the National Archives Foundation and the University of Virginia’s Miller Centre of Public Affairs, Beschloss has been awarded honorary doctorates by Williams College, St Mary’s College (Maryland), Lafayette College, St Peter’s College and Governors State University. The state of Illinois has awarded him the Order of Lincoln and Independence, Missouri honored him with the Harry S. Truman Public Service Award.

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    Michael Beschloss is an award-winning historian, Number #1 best-selling author of nine books and a regular commentator on both NBC and PBS. He co-authored with Caroline Kennedy the Number #1 New York Times best seller Jacqueline Kennedy: Historic Conversations on Life with John F. Kennedy (2011). He is currently working on a history of American Presidents in wartime from James Madison to George W. Bush, which will be published by Crown in 2015.

    Newsweek has called Beschloss “the nation′s leading Presidential historian.” The Charlotte Observer has said, “Michael Beschloss knows more about America′s 44 presidents than perhaps anyone on earth.”
    The New York Times Book Review has called him “easily the most widely recognized Presidential historian in the United States.” Albert Hunt of Bloomberg News has called him “a national treasure.” He serves as the NBC News Presidential Historian—the first time any major network has created such a position—and appears on all NBC programs. He is also a regular contributor to the PBS NewsHour. In 2005, he won an Emmy for his role in creating the Discovery Channel series Decisions that Shook the World, of which he was the host.

    Beschloss was born in Chicago in 1955. An alumnus of Phillips Academy (Andover) and Williams College, he also has an advanced degree from the Harvard Business School. He has been an historian on the staff of the Smithsonian Institution (1982-1986), a senior associate member at Oxford University in England (1986-1987) and a senior fellow of the Annenberg Foundation in Washington, D.C. (1988-1996).

    In 2007, Simon and Schuster published his book Presidential Courage: Brave Leaders and How They Changed America, 1789-1989, which was a Number #1 Washington Post best seller and a New York Times best seller for three months. The book won high praise from readers including the Kirkus Reviews editor who called it, “Engrossing. . .marvelous. . .and judicious. . . History written with subtlety, verve and an almost novelistic appreciation for the complexities of human nature and Presidential politics.”

    Of The Conquerors (Simon & Schuster, 2002), The New York Times Book Review said in a front-page review that the “vigorously written” book was “history as it was spoken at the time, and there is not a dull page.” The book was also a New York Times best seller for three months and was Amazon’s Number #1 best-selling history book of the year.

    Taking Charge (Simon & Schuster, 1997) was Beschloss′ first volume on President Lyndon Johnson’s newly released secret tapes. The Wall Street Journal called it “sheer marvelous history,” The New York Timeseditorial page “an important event.” The sequel, Reaching for Glory (Simon & Schuster, 2001), was called “an incomparable portrait of a President at work” by The New York Times Book Review. Both books were national best sellers.

    Beschloss’ first book, Kennedy and Roosevelt: The Uneasy Alliance (Norton, 1980), started as his senior honors thesis at Williams College. Mayday: Eisenhower, Khrushchev and the U-2 Affair (Harper, 1986), was called “a grand narrative. . .crowded with well-drawn portraits” by The New Yorker. The Crisis Years: Kennedy and Khrushchev, 1960-1963 (HarperCollins, 1991), won the Ambassador Book Prize and was called byThe New Yorker the “definitive” history of John Kennedy and the Cold War.

    Beschloss also co-wrote At the Highest Levels: The Inside Story of the End of the Cold War (Little, Brown, 1993) with Strobe Talbott. As literary executor for the late Newsweek columnist Meg Greenfield, he edited Greenfield’s posthumously published book Washington (PublicAffairs, 2001).

    Beschloss holds honorary doctorates from Williams College, St. Mary’s College (Maryland), Lafayette College, St. Peter′s College and Governors State University. He has also received the State of Illinois’s Order of Lincoln and the Harry S. Truman Public Service Award from Independence, Missouri. He is a trustee of the White House Historical Association, the National Archives Foundation and the University of Virginia′s Miller Center of Public Affairs. He lives in Washington, D.C., with his wife and their two sons.

Michael Beschloss Speaking Videos

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Michael Beschloss's Speech Descriptions

Combining his expertise as a Harvard Business School advanced graduate and his many years of research as a presidential historian, Michael Beschloss examines leadership from the boardroom to the Oval Office. He picks out the most egregious examples of success and failure and demonstrates the lessons that can be learned from both.

There is no historian in the world better qualified to give fascinating presentations on American presidents than Beschloss. Drawing on his book Presidential Courage, he shows that the greatest presidents have been willing to take political risks that could end their careers for reasons that would later be greatly admired. Beschloss takes us through presidents from Washington to Reagan showing just how great leaders make great changes.

Having lived in Washington DC for more than a quarter of a century, Beschloss has forged intimate connections with people at the very heart of the US political establishment, including Presidents, Supreme Court justices and members of both Houses. In a fascinating presentation he gives his audience a taste of the secret Washington that they will not hear about anywhere else.

Leadership From the Board Room to the Oval Office

Drawing on his years studying leadership at the Harvard Business School and as a presidential historian, Beschloss, customizing his presentation for each audience, picks the most brilliant successes and the most lethal mistakes made in business and politics – and shows what they can teach us.

Presidential Courage

What makes a great U.S. president? Michael Beschloss believes the answer is "presidential courage": the willingness to take a political risk that might end a president′s career-and the wisdom to do that for reasons that later Americans will admire. In a presentation based on his book Presidential Courage: Brave Leaders and How They Changed America, 1789-1989, Beschloss describes crucial times when courageous presidents took such risks and overcame obstacles to dramatically change the future of the United States. From George Washington to Ronald Reagan, the presidents Beschloss focuses on addressed some of the most paramount, abiding issues in American history-war and peace, human rights, and the proper balance between government and business. A natural storyteller, Beschloss details the outstanding traits of these presidents, and then compares them to the current crop of presidential candidates, for in insightful glance into America′s political future. He also uses what he has discovered about presidential courage to provide leadership lessons for all of us.

Great Presidents Past and Present

As a master in his field, Beschloss brings us inspiring, humorous and tragic never-before-told stories of American presidents – from George Washington to George W. Bush – as they struggle with war, peace and domestic crisis. He reveals the qualities that have made great presidents in history and shows how to find leaders who have them now – in politics, business and civic life.

The Washington, D.C. You’re Not Hearing About

From his talks with presidents, Supreme Court justices, diplomats and members of Congress and his quarter-century in the capital, Beschloss reveals the hidden side of important personalities and behind-the-scenes developments that may soon have a major impact on your life.

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