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The White House Historical Association released a new episode of The White House 1600 Sessions podcast today featuring a conversation on the unique qualities, personality traits, and circumstances that made certain presidents great leaders. Stewart McLaurin, president of the Association, met with Talmage Boston, attorney, historian and author of the new book, “How the Best Did It: Leadership Lessons from Our Top Presidents,” to look at our nation’s presidents and assess their strengths, character, and even some of their flaws and shortcomings. In this episode, McLaurin and Boston dissect the lives of eight presidents and discuss how we can all learn to be better leaders based on the best practices of our top presidents.

“What’s interesting about the American presidency is that our current recent presidents have the benefit of the knowledge and awareness of the experiences of all those who preceded them,” said McLaurin. “When we look at our past presidents through a modern lens, we can learn from their accomplishments and their mistakes.”

Boston’s book examines the presidencies of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, John Kennedy, and Ronald Reagan. They each had unique leadership styles. Washington, Jefferson, T. Roosevelt, and Eisenhower were more persuasive in small groups. Whereas F.D.R., Kennedy, and Reagan were most engaging when speaking to the masses through radio and television. Each of these leaders faced different challenges during their time in office, however, they all shared traits that led to their success.

“These eight presidents governed with their eyes fixed on the American middle, and that’s why their presidencies were successful,” said Boston. “They were also self-aware. Where they were strong, they found effective ways to use their strengths. Where they were weak, they would bring in somebody who could help advise and enhance areas that needed a bit more development.”

The full video of this podcast episode is also available on the White House Historical Association’s YouTube channel here.

The White House 1600 Sessions podcast is available on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

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The White House 1600 Sessions

The White House Historical Association’s President Stewart McLaurin is the host of The White House 1600 Sessions, the Association’s official audio and video podcast devoted to exploring the history, cultural impact, untold stories, and personal accounts of America’s most iconic residence and highest office.

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About the White House Historical Association

First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy envisioned a restored White House that conveyed a sense of history through its decorative and fine arts. She sought to inspire Americans, especially children, to explore and engage with American history and its presidents. In 1961, the nonprofit, nonpartisan White House Historical Association was established to support her vision to preserve and share the Executive Mansion’s legacy for generations to come. Supported entirely by private resources, the Association’s mission is to assist in the preservation of the state and public rooms, fund acquisitions for the White House permanent collection, and educate the public on the history of the White House. Since its founding, the Association has given more than $115 million to the White House in fulfillment of its mission.

To learn more about the White House Historical Association, please visit