The Buck Stops Here: The 28 Toughest Presidential Decisions and How They Changed History

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The Buck Stops Here consists of twenty-eight engrossing accounts of the most important United States presidential decisions in history. They range from the abolition of slavery with the Emancipation Proclamation to the acquisition of vast new territory with the Louisiana Purchase to the establishment of enduring institutions such as Medicare and America’s national parks. These decisions encompass, too, such less-well-known measures as the G.I. Bill of Rights, which cleared the way for more than two million ...

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Overview

The Buck Stops Here consists of twenty-eight engrossing accounts of the most important United States presidential decisions in history. They range from the abolition of slavery with the Emancipation Proclamation to the acquisition of vast new territory with the Louisiana Purchase to the establishment of enduring institutions such as Medicare and America’s national parks. These decisions encompass, too, such less-well-known measures as the G.I. Bill of Rights, which cleared the way for more than two million veterans to receive a college education, as well as acts that reverberated worldwide, including Theodore Roosevelt’s construction of the Panama Canal, Harry S Truman’s deployment of the atom bomb, Richard Nixon’s visit to China, and John F. Kennedy’s pledge to put a man on the moon.

Thomas J. Craughwell and Edwin Kiester Jr.’s fascinating survey of twenty-eight crucial presidential decisions opens a door into the White House’s corridors of power, giving readers an insider’s view of how and why these decisions were made, while providing a yardstick with which we might, perhaps, gauge the success of current and future presidents.

Each chapter places the reader squarely in the historical period while presenting the issues at stake, the interests at work, and the obstacles encountered. This book takes the reader into the minds of some of American history’s greatest leaders and analyzes the enduring, often far-reaching, sometimes unforeseen consequences of these presidential decisions—in their own time, and right up to the present day.

Some of these decisions were simply expedient; others required the courage of conviction in the face of intense opposition. Some were motivated by political loyalties, but many were evidently inspired by noble visions of a better nation, a fairer world. All were momentous, and helped define who we are and how we live now.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Big presidential decisions are usually attributed to big presidential names, like Roosevelt, Kennedy, or Nixon. Indeed, these names appear frequently in this absorbing and entertaining examination of presidential decisions. Yet, amid the more glamorous personalities and seismic shifts attributed to actions such as Jefferson’s Louisiana Purchase, which not only expanded the country but signaled a profound expansion of presidential power, and Kennedy’s Bay of Pigs fiasco, are lesser known accomplishments by rarely mentioned leaders, like Millard Fillmore, who helped make the U.S. a formidable presence in the Pacific. An engaging journey through the actions of 17 presidents who, for the most part, pushed the country towards progress, The Buck Stops Here also reveals the elasticity of presidential power over the last 200 years. While not every decision was grave or monumental, these presidential actions are shown to have had a lasting impact on American culture. Theodore Roosevelt’s dinner invitation to Booker T. Washington, for instance, not only pitted Southern Democrats against the more progressive Republicans of the time, but helped push the issue of race to the forefront of the American debate. Photos. (June)
From the Publisher

“As this book makes clear, many of the most fascinating turning points in American history were also presidential ones. Thomas J. Craughwell and Edwin Kiester Jr. show us the complex link between personal choice and historical contingency, charting a narrative of White House hardball that reminds us how much we have invested in those who become chief executive. These are tales of power, American-style.” —Cormac O’Brien, author of Secret Lives of the U.S. Presidents and The Forgotten History of America

An engaging journey through the actions of 17 presidents who, for the most part, pushed the country towards progress, The Buck Stops Here also reveals the elasticity of presidential power over the last 200 years. While not every decision was grave or monumental, these presidential actions are shown to have had a lasting impact on American culture. Theodore Roosevelt’s dinner invitation to Booker T. Washington, for instance, not only pitted Southern Democrats against the more progressive Republicans of the time, but helped push the issue of race to the forefront of the American debate. - Publisher's Weekly Web Exclusive, August 2010

“Thomas J. Craughwell has given us a richly detailed, highly entertaining, and broad slice of our history.” —The American Spectator on Stealing Lincoln’s Body by Thomas J. Craughwell

“There is no end of fascinating context and detail in this engrossing, often zany, yet poignant tale.” —Chicago Tribune on Stealing Lincoln’s Body by Thomas J. Craughwell

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781592334278
  • Publisher: Fair Winds Press
  • Publication date: 5/1/2010
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 7.40 (w) x 9.40 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Thomas J. Craughwell is the author of more than a dozen books, including Failures of the Presidents, Stealing Lincoln's Body, The Rise and Fall of the Second Largest Empire in History, and The Greatest Brigade. He has written articles on history, religion, politics, and popular culture for the Wall Street Journal, The American Spectator, and U.S. News & World Report. He lives in Bethel, Connecticut.

Edwin Kiester Jr. has written more than 2,000 magazine articles and twelve books on subjects ranging from science to history. His most recent books are Before They Changed the World, An Incomplete History of World War I, and An Incomplete History of World War II. He lives in Essex, Massachusetts.

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  • Posted June 7, 2010

    The Buck Stops Here - a great read

    THE BUCKSTOPS HERE by Thomas Craughwell and Edwin Kiester, Jr.
    Fair Winds Press 2010
    288 pages including index

    The byline of this book is "The 28 toughest Presidential decisions and how they changed the world", which drew me to this book in the first place. I was intrigued to read what the authors declared the stories to be in the top 28, and why they made it into the book. The first chapter on the Whisky Rebellion was quite good and covered the story very well.

    Ok, it's a sale...I bought one and brought it home.

    Now I must say at the beginning of this review, I love chapter books like this. It is fast paced and allows you to take 10 minutes or a whole day for a read; it's literally up to you.

    The book goes chapter by chapter building a case for their pick of top stories, telling you the beginning, middle and end of each story and how it transpired to bring about a change, not only in America but how the decisions were felt around the world. The only one to me personally that did not fit as self evident was the Whiskey Rebellion. It really does fit, but there are pains and a prehistory that must be known to put this story into one of this books byline category. In defense of my statement; or rather, in the defense of the authors (you pick); the authors did do exactly that with the introduction to the book, explaining the scenario.

    The book was well researched and documented; over seventy five (75) sources; and brought the reader into the fray of the events that were happening at the time. I liked that it gave you a feel of the everyday person who had little or no knowledge of what was going on, to the turmoil and stress that the Executive Office of the President was facing, both from inside and outside the political wrangling of our country as well as the pressures outside our borders.

    I had the opportunity to speak with Thomas Craughwell for an interview for Our History Project and he was a most delightful guest (released on 6-12-10). We covered two (2) chapters of this book in detail; Chapter 1 - "George Washington puts down the Whiskey Rebellion and dooms the Federalist Party" and Chapter 14 "Woodrow Wilson claims an American place at the table of the world". His knowledge expands so much beyond this book that I look forward to more writings and projects from him.

    Pick up "The Buck Stops Here", you will not be disappointed, it is written in an quick and easy flow for the reader, while maintaining the primary and secondary sources that regardless of your level you will enjoy the read. If you looking to give this as a gift, I would recommend age 10 and up.

    Craig Anderson
    Our History Project

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