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The Riddle of Power: Presidential Leadership from Truman to Bush

The Riddle of Power: Presidential Leadership from Truman to Bush

by Robert Shogan

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Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Shogan, who covers national politics for the Los Angeles Times , argues that presidential performance is best understood in the context of the individual's ideology, values and character. Applying this grid in turn to the nine postwar chief executives, he maintains, for example, that Eisenhower's feeble ideology led to his passive stand on civil rights; that the balanced interplay of the three factors in Kennedy's presidency enabled him to exploit his success in the missile crisis; and that Carter's lack of interest in ideology was a weakness that his high-minded values and noble character could not offset. Reagan's ideology, according to the author, reinforced his values and, combined with his ``credibility,'' made for a popular presidency. As to the present occupant of the White House: given what we know about President Bush's ideology, values and character, the prospects for his success in dealing with the larger domestic and foreign issues are ``dubious.'' Shogan's argument is at best confusing and at worst incomprehensible, largely because he fails to define adequately his three central terms. (Mar.)
Library Journal - Library Journal
Journalist Shogan must have been influenced by Richard Hofstadters's classic The American Political Tradition (Knopf, 1948; Random, 1989. pap.), for he has written a similar volume on post-World War II presidents. Shogan's insight and brevity make this work a pleasure to read. Although his theories are less weighty and scholarly than Richard Neustadt's Presidential Power and the Modern Presidents ( LJ 6/1/61, 10/1/90), Shogan puts Neustadt to shame in terms of clarity and readability. Taking a chapter-by-chapter approach, he discusses a president's ideology, values, and character in relationship to the major leadership challenge of each administration. While his analysis is mostly on target, Shogan's criticisms of Ford and Carter are misleading. It is too early to pass judgment, and most academics feel that history will judge their administrations to be better than the current public perception. Recommended for popular and academic political science collections.-- William D. Pederson, Louisiana State Univ., Shreveport

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Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
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7.00(w) x 5.00(h) x 1.00(d)

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