Running Alone: Presidential Leadership from JFK to Bush II

Running Alone: Presidential Leadership from JFK to Bush II

by James MacGregor Burns
     
 

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Since mid-century, America has witnessed an ominous decline in presidential leadership, culminating in the failing presidency of George W. Bush today. How did this happen? In Running Alone, the distinguished political scientist and leadership expert James MacGregor Burns finds the origin of the problem in John F. Kennedy’s presidential style-and its

Overview

Since mid-century, America has witnessed an ominous decline in presidential leadership, culminating in the failing presidency of George W. Bush today. How did this happen? In Running Alone, the distinguished political scientist and leadership expert James MacGregor Burns finds the origin of the problem in John F. Kennedy’s presidential style-and its influence on his successors in the Oval Office. Kennedy rejected collective leadership in favor of a highly personalized executive branch, run by a small group of hand-picked advisors. His successors followed his lead; each in his own way ran and governed alone, exploiting the party base while often ignoring party platforms and party needs. Burns charts the decline of genuine leadership in the Oval Office and offers practical proposals for restoring the kind of transforming leadership that this country so desperately needs. With unsurpassed knowledge of American history and politics, Burns shows us the way forward.

Editorial Reviews

Jon Meacham
In his impressive new Running Alone, Burns traces the origins of the collapse of broad party politics back to the rise of Camelot, which he sees as a court that was too focused on its king and not enough on the knights in Congress, in the states and in the neighborhoods who could help the monarch convince the realm of the wisdom of his program. The Kennedy drive -- JFK's appetites, curiosity, charisma and charm -- is the stuff of great biography, but in this book Burns is more concerned with the story of a nation than with the story of any one individual. And the stories of democratic nations, he argues, are determined by a leader's capacity to mobilize large numbers of people -- not only to elect the leader to office but to enable the work of government to begin when the work of electioneering leaves off.
— The Washington Post
Library Journal
Burns (government, emeritus, Williams Coll.; Roosevelt: The Soldier of Freedom) has received numerous awards e.g., the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award for his writings on FDR. It's clear that he brings astute analysis and bold prescriptions to his study of American politics and especially the presidency. Here he argues that what our national system needs is transformative leadership. FDR is his model of an aggressive, engaging, and enlightening leader. The President, Burns argues, is the vital center of American politics, but he should not campaign alone or try to govern alone, removed from the people and divorced from the political party system. Burns's proposals to restore both the American presidency and citizen-based politics are bold: abolish the Electoral College, repeal the 22d Amendment, and restructure the terms of office for the Senate and the House of Representatives. Most of all, however, Burns wants to enliven American democracy and the potential for moral, dynamic leadership from the Oval Office by means of an appeal to citizen-activists to enter the public arena and help save American politics from the professionals, pollsters, and pundits. This timely work is a positive addition to Burns's influential output on leadership and should be read by any student of U.S. politics and the presidency. It belongs in all libraries. Stephen K. Shaw, Northwest Nazarene Univ., Nampa, ID Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780786748570
Publisher:
Basic Books
Publication date:
06/16/2009
Sold by:
Hachette Digital, Inc.
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
336
File size:
805 KB

Meet the Author

One of America’s most astute political thinkers, James MacGregor Burns is Woodrow Wilson Professor of Government Emeritus at Williams College. He is the author of many books on American history and politics, including Roosevelt: The Lion and the Fox and Roosevelt: The Soldier of Freedom (winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award), and Leadership, still considered the seminal work in the field of leadership studies. He lives in Williamstown, Massachusetts.

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