How Presidential Memoirs Work

Presidential Memoir Formats

The format in which a person decides to present his memoir is a matter of personal choice and sometimes practicality. Several presidents (and their first ladies) have maintained daily journals prior to and during their time in office -- an excellent resource for writing a memoir focused entirely on that presidency. But, not all is lost for those who couldn't manage a daily sit-down with their diary. Records such as calendars, schedules, written correspondence in the form of letters and now e-mail, speeches, reports and other materials may be used to jog the memory and to support or flesh-out a story line.

As you found out in the last section, a presidential memoir can basically be formatted in one of two ways:

  • It can be a sort of written time capsule -- a brief, presumably four- or eight-year snapshot of a president's life, covering only the time period of his presidency.
  • It can span the entirety of a president's life, but the main focus of the content is in how everything is somehow related to his presidency.

Either one of these formats can produce hundreds and hundreds of pages of text. Initially, it's easy to think that the time-capsule variety would be shorter than the autobiography type. However, perhaps due to the level of focus involved, in some cases this format produces even more text.

To illustrate this point, and to examine the style, content and purpose of presidential memoirs, let's consider some examples.