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Presidential Memoirs Don’t Always Take This Long to Write

Obama additionally appears to have eschewed techniques embraced by different presidents who additionally wrote their very own books. He has admitted to struggling to maintain a constant diary whereas within the White House, a helpful assist for previous presidential memoirists. Jimmy Carter drew closely on his diaries to jot down “Keeping Faith,” which got here out a brisk 21 months after he left workplace.

“His discipline allowed him to write it quickly,” mentioned Alter, the creator of a new biography of Carter. “Diaries help you speed the completion of your memoirs, and what slows them down is writing them yourself.”

Clinton took a special tack, hiring a former international coverage speechwriter, the historian Ted Widmer, to interview him at size about his adolescence. Widmer then had the interviews transcribed and despatched to Clinton, the place they turned grist as the previous president wrote.

“It’s hard to look at a blank piece of paper and wonder what to say, especially if you’re a former president trying to write for millions of readers,” mentioned Widmer, a professor on the Macaulay Honors College on the City University of New York. “He understood intuitively that talking was a great way to begin.”

Other presidents, resembling Lyndon Johnson and Ronald Reagan, have been in a position to publish their books sooner with the assistance of aides and ghostwriters. Obama’s writer, Crown, mentioned aides assisted him with analysis, however he wrote the memoir himself.

Reagan’s “An American Life,” which appeared lower than two years after he left workplace, was largely ghostwritten; Reagan had little zeal for the venture. “He used to jokingly refer to it as the monkey on his back,” mentioned Mark Weinberg, a former aide. “He didn’t want it to dominate his post-presidency life.”

Richard Nixon got here the closest to surpassing Obama’s timeline, although for various causes. Holed up in his San Clemente, Calif., property with the handful of aides who helped draft his 1978 memoir, “RN,” Nixon needed to deal with litigation stemming from the Watergate scandal.

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