Lincoln's Way: How Six Great Presidents Created American Power

Overview

The debate is as old as the American Republic and as current as this morning's headlines. Should a president employ the powers of the federal government to advance our national development and increase the influence and power of the United States around the world? Under what circumstances? What sort of balance should the president achieve between competing visions and values on the path to change? Over the course of American history, why have some presidents succeeded brilliantly in applying their power and ...
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Lincoln's Way: How Six Great Presidents Created American Power

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Overview

The debate is as old as the American Republic and as current as this morning's headlines. Should a president employ the powers of the federal government to advance our national development and increase the influence and power of the United States around the world? Under what circumstances? What sort of balance should the president achieve between competing visions and values on the path to change? Over the course of American history, why have some presidents succeeded brilliantly in applying their power and influence while others have failed miserably?

In Lincoln's Way, historian Richard Striner tells the story of America's rise to global power and the presidential leaders who envisioned it and made it happen. From Abraham Lincoln to Theodore Roosevelt within the Republican Party, the legacy was passed along to FDR—the Democratic Roosevelt—who bequeathed it to Harry S. Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and John F. Kennedy.

Six presidents—three from each party—helped America fulfill its great potential. Their leadership spanned the huge gulf that exists between our ideological cultures: they drew from both conservative and liberal ideas, thus consolidating powerful centrist governance. No creed of mere "government for government's sake," their program was judicious: it used government for national necessities. But it also brought inspiring results, thus refuting the age-old American ultra-libertarian notion that "the government that governs best, governs least."

In a forceful narrative blending intellectual history and presidential biography, Striner presents the legacy in full. An important challenge to conventional wisdom, Lincoln's Way offers both an intriguing way of looking at the past and a much-needed lens through which to view the present. As a result, the book could change the way we think about the future.

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Editorial Reviews

The Roanoke Times
Striner injects . . . a new point of view. . . . He tells a fascinating history. . . . Striner blows away the thick smoke and breaks the mirrors to reveal a sane, middle option for people of vision to use our collective assets to build a strong nation that can provide us the essence of our unique system of governance—the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
CHOICE
Drawing from Herbert Croly's The Promise of an American Life (1909), Striner argues Hamiltonian means for Jeffersonian ends employed by men who 'blended wisdom and power from conservative and liberal thought.' Beginning with Lincoln, who 'held aloft American ideals,' the reader walks a boulevard experiencing numerous detours while delighting in such moments as Eisenhower's 'middle way' serving as a reflection of Theodore Roosevelt's 'cautious progressivism.' Numerous historical asides . . . highlight the philosophical underpinnings of the founders' desire for American power exercised as guardianship. . . . Summing Up: Recommended.
James M. McPherson
Richard Striner brings the remarkable range of his knowledge to this study of the ways in which six presidents from Lincoln to Kennedy expanded the powers of the federal government and of their office to promote positive, progressive change in the American polity. Drawing on a lifetime of scholarship, the author writes with great clarity for a general audience beyond the academy, while at the same time offering original insights that deepen and broaden our understanding of how the government promoted greater justice and equity in the American socioeconomic order during the century from the 1860s to the 1960s.
James MacGregor Burns
A must-read for lovers of American history—a fresh and spirited presentation of some of our greatest leaders, with special emphasis on key ideas, presented in a broad intellectual framework. An unforgettable book.
William D. Pederson
While distilling the essence of Lincoln's philosophy and showing its impact on later successful presidents, the author suggests a reasonable path for breaking the contemporary stalemate between liberals and conservatives. Sure to provoke interest and debate—it deserves the widest possible attention.
Geoffrey Wawro
This brilliant new book explores a subject that is especially poignant and urgent today: the rise (under six great presidents), and steady collapse since, of leadership and bipartisanship. . . . Lincoln's Way seamlessly weaves a very sophisticated discussion of complex financial issues as well as cultural changes into the narrative. . . . This is an invigorating, astonishingly clear exploration
Publishers Weekly
American history is defined in part by the tensions between liberal and conservative ideologies. Presidents have typically favored one ideology or another, causing the country to careen between different poles. Beginning with Lincoln, however, a few presidents have managed to strike a balance that resulted in incredibly productive periods of American growth, according to the author. Striner's (Father Abraham) comprehensive study of American political history is not without an agenda. The author, professor or history at Pennsylvania's Washington College, clearly believes that the path to American greatness is through a specific regulatory balance, and he supports his theory by examining the presidencies of Abraham Lincoln, T. Roosevelt, F.D. Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower, and Kennedy, before examining the mistakes of Reagan, Bush, Clinton, and Bush and speculating on the presidency of Barack Obama. As persuasive a writer as Striner is, his focus on economic policy may bore as many readers as it fascinates. Yet despite his narrow thesis, readers interested in economic policy and history will be intrigued by his highly accessible study.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Choice
Drawing from Herbert Croly's The Promise of an American Life (1909), Striner argues Hamiltonian means for Jeffersonian ends employed by men who 'blended wisdom and power from conservative and liberal thought.' Beginning with Lincoln, who 'held aloft American ideals,' the reader walks a boulevard experiencing numerous detours while delighting in such moments as Eisenhower's 'middle way' serving as a reflection of Theodore Roosevelt's 'cautious progressivism.' Numerous historical asides . . . highlight the philosophical underpinnings of the founders' desire for American power exercised as guardianship. . . . Summing Up: Recommended.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781442214088
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 12/16/2011
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 314
  • Sales rank: 1,479,248
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Richard Striner is professor of history at Washington College in Maryland and the author, most recently, of Father Abraham: Lincoln's Relentless Struggle to End Slavery.
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Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Forgotten Paths in American Politics
Chapter 2: From the Founders to Abraham Lincoln
Chapter 3: From Lincoln to Theodore Roosevelt
Chapter 4: The Legacy Crosses Party Lines: From Theodore to Franklin D. Roosevelt
Chapter 5: The Legacy as Great Power Statecraft: From Truman to Nixon
Chapter 6: The Legacy in Ruins: From Carter to George W. Bush
Chapter 7: Horizons
Select Bibliographical Essay
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