Jeff Shesol

Co-Founder and Executive Director

Member of the Board of Directors

Jeff Shesol is an author, historian, and an accidental speechwriter.

A co-founder of West Wing Writers, Jeff is the author of three books, two of them New York Times Notable Books of the Year, and frequently publishes essays and book reviews under his own byline in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and other publications.

Jeff’s most recent book, Mercury Rising: John Glenn, John Kennedy, and the New Battleground of the Cold War (W.W. Norton), was a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice and one of the “20 Books to Read This Summer” in the Washington Post. In his review, Douglas Brinkley called it “a riveting, fast-paced narrative that has ‘movie’ written all over it.”

Jeff’s previous book, Supreme Power: Franklin Roosevelt vs. The Supreme Court, was selected as a New York Times Notable Book of the Year and a Favorite Book of the Year by The New Yorker. Doris Kearns Goodwin described Supreme Power as “stunning,” the kind of book that comes “once in a generation,” and The New York Times Book Review called it “impressive and engaging… deeply researched and beautifully written.”

Jeff’s first book, Mutual Contempt: Lyndon Johnson, Robert Kennedy and the Feud that Defined a Decade, was also a New York Times Notable Book. Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. called it “the most gripping political book of recent years.” Michiko Kakutani of the New York Times praised the book as “authoritative” and “vivid, almost novelistic.”

In 1997, President Bill Clinton read Mutual Contempt and invited Jeff to become one of his speechwriters. During his three years at the White House, Jeff became the deputy chief speechwriter and a member of the senior staff. He played a leading role in drafting two State of the Union Addresses, the President’s 2000 Democratic National Convention speech, and the Farewell Address, among hundreds of other speeches. He covered a range of issues, from economic policy to international development, technological innovation, and the arts. He also helped lead the President’s team of humor writers—a team that produced the acclaimed short film The Final Days.

A Rhodes Scholar, Jeff received his master’s in history from Oxford University and graduated from Brown University with highest honors. His comic strip, Thatch, was nationally syndicated from 1994-1998, when it appeared daily in more than 150 newspapers. He is a member of the Society of American Historians and has taught presidential history at Princeton University and the University of California Washington Center. Jeff and his family live in Washington, DC.