The American Presidents: Critical Essays
Routledge | 2000 | ISBN: 0815321848 | Pages: 530 | PDF | 5.91 MB
What makes a president great?
Here is the ideal source for students, scholars, and the general public. The American Presidents is a collection of articles that analyze and evaluate the presidential careers of the men who have occupied the office since its inception in 1789. In this volume, the leading presidential historians in the United States offer insights into what makes a president great, mediocre, or--in the case of most of them--something in between.
The contributors to The American Presidents were not asked to write straightforward biographies of the presidents; other sources are available for that. Rather, they were asked to evaluate their subjects. No strict patterns were imposed by the editor; each author approached his or her subject in the way that best illustrated the strengths and weaknesses of the president under consideration.
Forty-one have held the office of president and all, in one way or another, were exceptional men. Some, like Andrew Jackson and Harry Truman, are usually thought of as representing the "common folk," but nothing was common about either of them. Each proved to be an extraordinary and singular politician able to rally and represent the country through the challenges of their times.
Some presidents had achieved brilliance in other fields (Ulysses Grant in the military and Herbert Hoover as an engineer and humanitarian, for example) but had presidencies that are considered unsuccessful. What accounts for this seeming paradox, in which insight, sensitivity, and competence suddenly become "nontransferable" when the man reaches the White House? This book offers the reader multiple perspectives on this and other issues.
Examination of the ways in which challenges affect presidential greatness
Theodore Roosevelt, a successful president by any standard, was acutely aware that the prosperity and peace the country enjoyed during his two terms in office would, ironically, prevent him from reaching the upper tier of greatness enjoyed by Washington and Lincoln. After he left office, he yearned to return in hope of finding the challenge that would seal his greatness. Earlier, in the late nineteenth century, the electorate placed competent men such as Rutherford B. Hayes, Grover Cleveland, and Benjamin Harrison in the White House, but they are little remembered today. None faced earth-shaking challenges at home and abroad, and their presidencies slipped into obscurity.
Discussion of personal characteristics and presidential performance
For more than two centuries the presidency has proved a remarkably durable institution. Presidential personalities have varied widely from the patrician aloofness of Washington to the moody introspection of Lincoln to the noisy exuberance of Theodore Roosevelt. The articles inThe American Presidents consider the ways in which personality has affected performance.
*41 signed essays by the leading experts, illustrated with portraits of the presidents
*At-a-glance summaries of each president's achievements
*Useful charts and tables on cabinet members, first ladies, and vice presidents from Washington to Clinton
*Addresses and Web sites for major presidential libraries.
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