Inventing the Job of President: Leadership Style from George Washington to Andrew Jackson

Inventing the Job of President: Leadership Style from George Washington to Andrew Jackson

by Fred I. Greenstein
     
 

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From George Washington's decision to buy time for the new nation by signing the less-than-ideal Jay Treaty with Great Britain in 1795 to George W. Bush's order of a military intervention in Iraq in 2003, the matter of who is president of the United States is of the utmost importance. In this book, Fred Greenstein examines the leadership styles of the earliest

Overview

From George Washington's decision to buy time for the new nation by signing the less-than-ideal Jay Treaty with Great Britain in 1795 to George W. Bush's order of a military intervention in Iraq in 2003, the matter of who is president of the United States is of the utmost importance. In this book, Fred Greenstein examines the leadership styles of the earliest presidents, men who served at a time when it was by no means certain that the American experiment in free government would succeed.

In his groundbreaking book The Presidential Difference, Greenstein evaluated the personal strengths and weaknesses of the modern presidents since Franklin D. Roosevelt. Here, he takes us back to the very founding of the republic to apply the same yardsticks to the first seven presidents from Washington to Andrew Jackson, giving his no-nonsense assessment of the qualities that did and did not serve them well in office. For each president, Greenstein provides a concise history of his life and presidency, and evaluates him in the areas of public communication, organizational capacity, political skill, policy vision, cognitive style, and emotional intelligence. Washington, for example, used his organizational prowess--honed as a military commander and plantation owner--to lead an orderly administration. In contrast, John Adams was erudite but emotionally volatile, and his presidency was an organizational disaster.

Inventing the Job of President explains how these early presidents and their successors shaped the American presidency we know today and helped the new republic prosper despite profound challenges at home and abroad.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
In his career, Greenstein (politics, emeritus, Princeton; The Presidential Difference) has examined the presidency as closely, critically, and convincingly as any recent presidential scholar. He is especially known for scrutinizing strengths and weaknesses in public communication, organizational capacity, political skill, policy vision, cognitive style, and emotional intelligence. While he has previously analyzed modern U.S. Presidents, here in this concise yet insightful volume he analyzes our first seven leaders, demonstrating effectively their similarities and differences that support his central thesis that, at any given time, it matters who happens to be President. None has had the same personal and political skills. Greenstein's approach, emphasizing particular (and at times rather idiosyncratic) personal strengths and weaknesses, is distinct from Stephen Skowronek's The Politics That Presidents Make, which focuses more on the political environment and the times in which various Presidents served. Greenstein here helps students of the presidency realize that not all Presidents are created equal, and that leadership style clearly matters. VERDICT This latest addition to the Greenstein corpus will find a receptive audience in scholars of the Presidency and those interested in leadership and American political history. Highly recommended.—Stephen K. Shaw, Northwest Nazarene Univ., Nampa, ID
Civilian Reader
Greenstein does an excellent job of providing short biographies of each president covered, as well as placing their presidencies into the context of their times, making this book a no-nonsense guide to the characters of these seven presidents, and an examination of the characteristics that the author believes served them well and poorly during their time in office. An interesting addition to the study of the presidency, I would recommend Inventing the Job of President.
— Stefan Fergus
Choice
In this brief text, eminent scholar Greenstein examines the role the first seven presidents of the U.S. played in establishing the presidency as an institution.
Register of the Kentucky Historical Society
This fine volume will prove interesting for scholars of the presidency, but its accessible style and fluid prose make it ideal for the undergraduate and general reader as well. Highly recommended.
— David A. Crockett
CEU Political Science Journal
[E]legant and clear . . . a captivating and . . . easy-to-digest lecture. . . . Inventing the Job of President is a valuable resource for both presidential scholars and for those who had ever read anything about the subject.
— Mihail Chiru
Political Studies Review
The book's obvious originality lies in Greenstein's application of a single framework to the leadership styles of the early presidents. In so doing, the book usefully brings together information in a systematic way, emphasizing the enduring features of political leadership in any epoch and whetting the reader's appetite to know more about the subject. It is a relatively inexpensive book, and students and general readers will find it an accessible introduction to the early presidency. Seasoned scholars will find the book more useful as a comparative analysis of the early presidents. It is certainly a book that every presidential scholar will want to read.
Civilian Reader - Stefan Fergus
Greenstein does an excellent job of providing short biographies of each president covered, as well as placing their presidencies into the context of their times, making this book a no-nonsense guide to the characters of these seven presidents, and an examination of the characteristics that the author believes served them well and poorly during their time in office. An interesting addition to the study of the presidency, I would recommend Inventing the Job of President.
Register of the Kentucky Historical Society - David A. Crockett
This fine volume will prove interesting for scholars of the presidency, but its accessible style and fluid prose make it ideal for the undergraduate and general reader as well. Highly recommended.
CEU Political Science Journal - Mihail Chiru
[E]legant and clear . . . a captivating and . . . easy-to-digest lecture. . . . Inventing the Job of President is a valuable resource for both presidential scholars and for those who had ever read anything about the subject.
From the Publisher
"Greenstein does an excellent job of providing short biographies of each president covered, as well as placing their presidencies into the context of their times, making this book a no-nonsense guide to the characters of these seven presidents, and an examination of the characteristics that the author believes served them well and poorly during their time in office. An interesting addition to the study of the presidency, I would recommend Inventing the Job of President."—Stefan Fergus, Civilian Reader

"This fine volume will prove interesting for scholars of the presidency, but its accessible style and fluid prose make it ideal for the undergraduate and general reader as well. Highly recommended."—David A. Crockett, Register of the Kentucky Historical Society

"[E]legant and clear . . . a captivating and . . . easy-to-digest lecture. . . . Inventing the Job of President is a valuable resource for both presidential scholars and for those who had ever read anything about the subject."—Mihail Chiru, CEU Political Science Journal

"The book's obvious originality lies in Greenstein's application of a single framework to the leadership styles of the early presidents. In so doing, the book usefully brings together information in a systematic way, emphasizing the enduring features of political leadership in any epoch and whetting the reader's appetite to know more about the subject. It is a relatively inexpensive book, and students and general readers will find it an accessible introduction to the early presidency. Seasoned scholars will find the book more useful as a comparative analysis of the early presidents. It is certainly a book that every presidential scholar will want to read."Political Studies Review

"This latest addition to the Greenstein corpus will find a receptive audience in scholars of the Presidency and those interested in leadership and American political history. Highly recommended."—Stephen K. Shaw, Library Journal

"In this brief text, eminent scholar Greenstein examines the role the first seven presidents of the U.S. played in establishing the presidency as an institution."Choice

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781400831364
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Publication date:
08/10/2009
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
176
File size:
1 MB

What People are saying about this

Ellis
Fred Greenstein, one of the nation's best-regarded observers of the modern American presidency, has turned his attention to our first seven presidents and renders characteristically succinct and sage judgments on their performance. This is the perfect book for anyone who wants to understand how our early presidents invented the job of president.
Richard J. Ellis, Willamette University
David Mayhew
How have the American presidents stacked up as individual performers? In his earlier work, Greenstein asked this question of modern presidents. Here, exhibiting the same cool analytic discipline, he applies his lens to the first seven presidents. Yes, the Adamses were bumblers. Jefferson in office went downhill. Washington merits his place on Mount Rushmore. The big surprise is James Monroe, who was pretty good. Another surprise is the sheer variety in these early performances.
David Mayhew, Yale University
Todd Estes
Valuable and important. Inventing the Job of President will appeal not only to scholars and students but also to general readers interested in the presidency. Greenstein shows that a variety of leadership styles—some that worked well, others that did not—existed among the early presidents. An interesting and thought-provoking work.
Todd Estes, author of "The Jay Treaty Debate, Public Opinion, and the Evolution of Early American Political Culture"
William Ker Muir
Captivating. Inventing the Job of President teaches about the past so that old events take on a contemporary significance. It is a book that introduces readers to the wonders—and good fortune—of this nation's first decades. Greenstein is hands down the best, most careful, and wisest presidential scholar.
William Ker Muir, Jr., author of "The Bully Pulpit: The Presidential Leadership of Ronald Reagan"
John Stagg
In Inventing the Job of President, Greenstein applies to the early republic the insights he developed in his studies of the modern presidency. He assesses the first seven presidents in terms of their abilities to communicate publicly, their skills in managing colleagues and legislators, and the ways in which they handled their own emotions. By such means, Greenstein reminds us of an important matter—that it does matter who is president.
John Stagg, University of Virginia
Cronin
An elegant and absorbing analysis of the early presidents and their political styles and how they helped shape this decidedly consequential leadership institution.
Thomas E. Cronin, Colorado College

Meet the Author

Fred I. Greenstein is professor of politics emeritus at Princeton University. His books include The Hidden-Hand Presidency: Eisenhower as Leader; How Presidents Test Reality: Decisions on Vietnam, 1954 and 1965; and Presidents and the Dissolution of the Union: Leadership Style from Polk to Lincoln.

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