Mark K. Updegrove

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Mark K. Updegrove
Mark K. Updegrove 2016 (1).jpg
Born (1961-08-25) August 25, 1961 (age 59)
Abington, Pennsylvania, U.S.
OccupationAuthor, Historian, Journalist, Television Commentator, Presidential Library Director
Alma materUniversity of Maryland, College Park
SubjectUnited States Presidency
Notable worksIndomitable Will: LBJ in the Presidency
SpouseAmy Banner Updegrove

Mark K. Updegrove[1] (born August 25, 1961) is an American author, historian, journalist, and Presidential Historian for ABC News. He is the president and CEO of the LBJ Foundation in Austin, Texas.[2] Previously, he served as the director of the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum for eight years.[3] He is the author of four books including his latest, The Last Republicans: Inside the Extraordinary Relationship Between George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush,[4] published in 2017.


Updegrove was born outside Philadelphia in Abington, PA, on Aug. 25, 1961. He attended high school at the George School, which honored him with its Distinguished Alumnus Award in 2015.[5] In 1984, he graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park.


In December 2017, Updegrove was named the president and CEO of the LBJ Foundation in Austin, Texas, after serving briefly as the inaugural CEO of the National Medal of Honor Museum. From 2009 to 2017, he was the fourth director of the Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library in Austin, Texas.

L-R: Updegrove with U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in 2020

As director of the LBJ Library, in 2014, Updegrove hosted the Civil Rights Summit, an historic three-day conference around the fiftieth anniversary of the Civil Rights Act,[6] which included a keynote address by then President Barack Obama and programs with former Presidents George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Jimmy Carter, as well as programs with many civil rights luminaries including Julian Bond, John Lewis, and Andrew Young. The summit garnered international news coverage, including the New York Times profile on Updegrove titled, "Chronicler of Presidents Brings Four Together."[7]

In April 2016, Updegrove hosted the Vietnam War Summit, a three-day conference, featuring a keynote address by then Secretary of State John Kerry.[8] Among the additional participants were Henry Kissinger, Ken Burns, Tom Hayden and Bob Kerrey.

Early in his tenure at the library, Updegrove oversaw the $11 million renovation of the library's core exhibit on Lyndon Johnson and his administration, which opened in December 2012.[9][10]

Updegrove's December 2014 Politico article, What 'Selma' Gets Wrong,[11] ignited a controversy over the portrayal of Lyndon Johnson as an obstructionist on voting rights in the film Selma, touching off a debate about the importance of accuracy in films based on historic events. In January 2015, Updegrove addressed the issue on CBS' Face the Nation.[12]

Updegrove has conducted exclusive interviews with five U.S. Presidents: George W. Bush,[13] Bill Clinton,[14] George H.W. Bush, Jimmy Carter,[15] and Gerald R. Ford.

He has also interviewed First Ladies Laura Bush,[16] Hillary Clinton, Barbara Bush,[16] Nancy Reagan, and Rosalynn Carter;[17] Vice Presidents Joe Biden,[18] Dick Cheney, and Walter Mondale; Supreme Court Justices Sandra Day O’Connor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg,[19] and Neil Gorsuch;[20] Cabinet secretaries Henry Kissinger,[21] James Baker, Madeleine Albright,[22] Condoleezza Rice, Robert Gates,[23] Eric Holder,[24] and John Kerry; and others including: Mikhail Gorbachev,[25] Nancy Pelosi,[26] John Lewis, John Glenn,[27] Andrew Young,[28] Julian Bond,[29] Doris Kearns Goodwin,[30] Dan Rather,[31] Hank Aaron,[32] Ken Burns,[33] Bryan Cranston,[34] Woody Harrelson,[35] Rob Reiner, Robert Redford, and Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein.[36]

Updegrove spent much of his early career in magazine publishing, including serving the publisher of Newsweek in New York, president of Time Canada, Time magazine's separate Canadian edition and operation, and Time magazine's Los Angeles manager.


Updegrove's most recent book, The Last Republicans: Inside the Extraordinary Relationship Between George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, was released in November 2017 with exclusive stories featured in the New York Times and on CNN, which reported on the book's revelations about the Bushes’ views on Donald Trump. Through exclusive interviews with Updegrove, the book quotes former President George H.W. Bush as calling Donald Trump "a blowhard, and saying flatly, "I don't like him," while former President George W. Bush is quoted as saying, "Wow, this guy doesn't know what it means to be president." [37] When asked for his reaction to the Bushes' comments, President Trump, en route to Tokyo for a thirteen-day tour of Asia, said, "I'll comment after we come back. I don't want to make headlines. I don't want to make their move successful."[38]

Updegrove is the author of four books:

  • Indomitable Will: LBJ in the Presidency (Crown Publishers, 2012)[39]
  • Baptism By Fire: Eight Presidents Who Took Office During Times of Crisis (St. Martins Press, 2009)[40]
  • Second Acts: Presidential Lives and Legacies After the White House (Lyons Press, 2006)[41]
  • The Last Republicans: Inside the Extraordinary Relationship Between George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush (HarperCollins, November 2017),[4] which includes material from exclusive interviews with both Bush presidents.


Updegrove has written for The Daily Beast,[42] The Hill,[43] The Nation,[44] National Geographic, The New York Times,[45] Parade,[46] Politico,[47] Texas Monthly,[48] and Time, and his books have been excerpted in American Heritage, Parade, Politico,and Texas Monthly.

Television Commentator[edit]

Updegrove is the presidential historian for ABC News and a consultant for CNN. He also appears regularly on MSNBC, has contributed to CBS Sunday Morning, and has been a guest on all major news outlets including The CBS Evening News, Face the Nation, Morning Joe, NBC Nightly News, NPR's Morning Edition and All Things Considered, The PBS News Hour. He has also been on The Daily Show and played himself in the Epix series Graves.

Additionally, Updegrove has also appeared in numerous documentaries and original series including PBS’ The White House: The Inside Story; CNN’s The Bush Years, and Race for the White House; MSNBC's Betrayal: The Plot that Won the White House; NFL Films' Sigma Chi and the Mayflower Move / the Baltimore Colts; and History TV's Presidents at War, The Ultimate Guide to the Presidents, and What the Hell's the Presidency For?

Adjunct Professor/Lecturer[edit]

Along with LBJ Presidential Library director and former University of Texas associate professor, Mark Lawrence, Updegrove co-teaches "The Johnson Years," a course for Liberal Arts Honors students at the University of Texas at Austin.

Updegrove has lectured at numerous colleges and universities, including Harvard, Rice, the University of Virginia. He gave the graduation speech for Texas State University in 2019.

Personal life[edit]

Updegrove is married to Amy Banner Updegrove, a marketing consultant who formerly served as publisher of Texas Monthly and president of Los Angeles Magazine. Both have two children from previous marriages. They live in Austin, TX.


  1. ^ Public Affairs Staff. "Mark Updegrove Named New Director of LBJ Library". The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration. The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration. Retrieved 9 April 2012.
  2. ^ "Mark K. Updegrove to Return to LBJ Foundation as President and Chief Executive Officer - LBJ Presidential Library".
  3. ^ "Updegrove stepping down as LBJ Library director". Retrieved 2017-02-09.
  4. ^ a b Updegrove, Mark K. "The Last Republicans - Mark K. Updegrove - Hardcover". HarperCollins US. Retrieved 2017-09-16.
  5. ^ "Alumni Award Recipient 2015 - George School". Archived from the original on 2016-10-10. Retrieved 2016-08-15.
  6. ^ Zezima, Katie. "Obama: Doors 'swung open for me' because of LBJ's legacy". The Washington Post. Retrieved 3 February 2017.
  7. ^ Rocha, Alana (March 13, 2014). "Chronicler of Presidents Is Bringing Four Together (Published 2014)" – via
  8. ^ Tilove, Jonathan. "Vietnam War Summit at LBJ Library examines complex, tragic legacy". Austin American Statesman. Retrieved 3 February 2017.
  9. ^ Shannon, Kelley. "LBJ library in Austin to unveil $10 million update Dec. 22". The Dallas Morning News. Retrieved 24 January 2013.
  10. ^ Baskas, Harriet. "Oval Office audio tapes highlight redesigned LBJ Presidential Library". NBC News. Retrieved 24 January 2013.
  11. ^ "What 'Selma' Gets Wrong". Politico. Retrieved 13 May 2015.
  12. ^ "Does the film "Selma" portray LBJ unfairly?". Face the Nation. Retrieved 15 August 2016.
  13. ^ "An Interview With George W. Bush (Transcript)". Texas Monthly. January 21, 2013.
  14. ^ America, Good Morning. "'Dear Bill': Clinton reads heartfelt letter from President George H.W. Bush". Good Morning America.
  15. ^ "Day one of the Civil Rights Summit featured panels about gay marriage, immigration, and music, and ended with a keynote speech by former President Carter. - LBJ Presidential Library".
  16. ^ a b "a-moderated-conversation-reflections-of-first-ladies - LBJ Presidential Library".
  17. ^ "LBJ Library director Mark Updegrove interviewed former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn at their home. - LBJ Presidential Library".
  18. ^ "The Tom Johnson Lectureship presents former Vice President and Senator Joe Biden - LBJ Presidential Library".
  19. ^ "LBJ Foundation Honors U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg - LBJ Presidential Library".
  20. ^ "The Tom Johnson Lectureship presents Justice Neil Gorsuch - LBJ Presidential Library".
  21. ^ "Vietnam War Media Kit | LBJ Presidential Library".
  22. ^ "A Conversation with Madeleine Albright | The Summit on Race in America".
  23. ^ "The Tom Johnson Lectureship presents Dr. Robert M. Gates - LBJ Presidential Library".
  24. ^ "U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder gave a presentation on the Voting Rights Act at the LBJ Presidential Library - LBJ Presidential Library".
  25. ^ "The Harry Middleton Lecture Series presents: Mikhail Gorbachev - LBJ Presidential Library".
  26. ^ "Speaker Nancy Pelosi | LBJ Liberty & Justice for All Award".
  27. ^ "An evening with John Glenn at the LBJ Presidential Library - LBJ Presidential Library".
  28. ^ "Andrew Young served as the second annual Tom Johnson lecturer. The lecture was held in the LBJ Auditorium on Thursday, January 31, 2013. - LBJ Presidential Library".
  29. ^ "An Evening With Julian Bond, Celebrating Freedom Riders - LBJ Presidential Library".
  30. ^ "An Evening With Doris Kearns Goodwin - LBJ Presidential Library".
  31. ^ "Video - 2016 LBJ Library Interview | Dan Rather".
  32. ^ "Tom Johnson Lecture Series: Hank Aaron - LBJ Presidential Library".
  33. ^ "2017 Lady Bird Johnson Award - LBJ Presidential Library".
  34. ^ "The Harry Middleton Lectureship presents actor Bryan Cranston and playwright Robert Schenkkan - LBJ Presidential Library".
  35. ^ "Screening and Discussion of "LBJ" - LBJ Presidential Library".
  36. ^ "Robert Redford, Bob Woodward, and Carl Bernstein gave a presentation about All the President's Men at the LBJ Presidential Library - LBJ Presidential Library".
  37. ^ "George W Bush just took down Trump". The Independent. November 4, 2017.
  38. ^ CNN, Javier De Diego and Jamie Gangel. "Bush 41 calls Trump a 'blowhard'; WH hits back". CNN.
  39. ^ Ealy, Charles. "'Indomitable Will' seeks to give LBJ due credit". Retrieved 14 April 2012.
  40. ^ Heilbrunn, Jacob. "Crisis Management". The New York Times. Retrieved 16 January 2009.
  41. ^ "Second Acts: Presidential Lives and Legacies After the White House". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved 6 June 2006.
  42. ^ "Mark K. Updegrove". The Daily Beast.
  43. ^ Manchester, Julia (April 11, 2019). "Historian on Trump: 'If you're closing the border, you don't understand that immigrants built this country'". TheHill.
  44. ^ Updegrove, Mark (September 26, 2006). "Get Me Rewrite" – via
  45. ^ Baker, Peter (November 4, 2017). "Both Bush Presidents Worry Trump Is Blowing Up the G.O.P. (Published 2017)" – via
  46. ^ "Mark K. Updegrove". Parade: Entertainment, Recipes, Health, Life, Holidays.
  47. ^ Updegrove, Mark K. "'I Want This for George'". POLITICO Magazine.
  48. ^ "Mark Updegrove, Author at Texas Monthly". Texas Monthly.

External links[edit]