The Leaders We Deserved (and a Few We Didn't): Rethinking the Presidential Rating Game

Paperback (Print)
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $5.99
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 69%)
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (5) from $5.99   
  • New (1) from $38.93   
  • Used (4) from $5.99   
Sort by
Page 1 of 1
Showing All
Note: Marketplace items are not eligible for any coupons and promotions
Seller since 2009

Feedback rating:



New — never opened or used in original packaging.

Like New — packaging may have been opened. A "Like New" item is suitable to give as a gift.

Very Good — may have minor signs of wear on packaging but item works perfectly and has no damage.

Good — item is in good condition but packaging may have signs of shelf wear/aging or torn packaging. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Acceptable — item is in working order but may show signs of wear such as scratches or torn packaging. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Used — An item that has been opened and may show signs of wear. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Refurbished — A used item that has been renewed or updated and verified to be in proper working condition. Not necessarily completed by the original manufacturer.

2010-06-01 Paperback First Trade Paper Ed New 0465018904 Ships Within 24 Hours. Tracking Number available for all USA orders. Excellent Customer Service. Upto 15 Days 100% Money ... Back Gurantee. Try Our Fast! ! ! ! Shipping With Tracking Number. Read more Show Less

Ships from: Bensalem, PA

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Canadian
  • International
  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
  • Express, 48 States
  • Express (AK, HI)
Page 1 of 1
Showing All
Sort by


Rating the presidents remains a perennial pastime of historians, pundits, and presidency buffs. Most surveys place presidents into categories such as "Great," "Near-Great," and "Failure." Their originators seldom, however, inform readers what lay behind those designations. In The Leaders We Deserved (and a Few We Didn't), Alvin S. Felzenberg assigns the presidents separate grades in each of six categories (character, vision, competence, among others). He offers a fresh look at "old favorites" and rescues others from obscurity and ridicule. Most importantly, he supplies evidence in support of his conclusions.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal

Felzenberg (political science, Univ. of Pennsylvania; Governor Tom Kean) attacks the historians' rankings of U.S. Presidents conducted by Arthur M. Schlesinger Sr. (1948, 1962) and by Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. (1996). The author argues that these rankings used no precise criteria, were never entirely explained, and relied on experts who tended to be politically liberal. Felzenberg's approach is sound. He attempts to rectify the situation by newly systematizing such rankings into six different categories, e.g., character, vision, competence, economic soundness, the protection and expansion of liberties, and handling of defense and foreign policy. These categories and his in-depth discussions of their meaning, together with his selected top-, middle-, and bottom-ranked Presidents for each category, are the book's strength. Unfortunately, Craig's execution is flawed; like his predecessors, he gives no explanation of how he used these categories to obtain his own rankings of selected Presidents, and some Presidents are neither ranked nor discussed. But his criteria remain sound and carefully considered, and their consistent application would add depth to the ever-popular practice of ranking our Presidents. For public and academic libraries.
—Bryan Craig

From the Publisher

Wall Street Journal
“Written in a breezy style, "The Leaders We Deserved" is clearly intended for anyone who wants to learn something about U.S. history while observing presidents compete with one another for top rankings.”

Washington Times
“In this election year, anyone interested in the future of the nation's leadership will find this examination of the past a useful guide.”

“Felzenberg has crafted a very interesting and worthwhile read.”

James M. McPherson, author of Battle Cry of Freedom and This Mighty Scourge: Perspectives on the Civil War
“Alvin Felzenberg has written an incisive, readable book in which he offers detailed evaluations of presidents according to several key criteria. His rankings contain some surprises, with which not everyone will agree, but all readers will be stimulated and will come away better informed than before.”

Harold Holzer, Co-chairman, U.S. Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission
“Alvin Felzenberg puts Lincoln and several other presidents in the full context of their times and ours, shedding much new light on those we thought we knew well, and taking a fresh look at some we need to know better. The sections on Abraham Lincoln, the most elusive of all presidents, adds much to the field of Lincoln studies and should not be missed."

Walter Isaacson, CEO of the Aspen Institute and author of Einstein: His Life and Universe
“This book goes beyond the parlor game of rating presidents and digs deeply into what qualities truly matter. By doing so, Al Felzenberg has produced a smart and fascinating look at the impact our great presidents have had.”

John J. DiIulio Jr., Frederic Fox Leadership Professor, University of Pennsylvania
“This book sets a new standard, not only for presidential studies but for leadership studies generally. In an enlightening and entertaining fashion, Felzenberg lays bare how and why some presidents have translated vision into transformational and sustainable action while others have not. For political scientists and anyone else who thinks understanding leadership matters, this book is not only must-reading but must-knowledge.”

National Review
“Felzenberg is to be credited with bringing to the presidential-ratings game a quality that had been sorely lacking: an opportunity to debate.”

Roanoke Times
“This book should be regarded as a ‘must read’ for its remarkable and thought-provoking insights as to how all of us as responsible citizens should evaluate our leaders -- past, present and future.”

Renew America
“Alvin Stephen Felzenberg has brought forward so much impeccable scholarship that The Leaders We Deserved (and a Few We Didn’t) merits the Gold Star Seal for rating presidents. As of now, it is the yardstick.”

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780465018901
  • Publisher: Basic Books
  • Publication date: 6/1/2010
  • Edition description: First Trade Paper Edition
  • Pages: 496
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Alvin S. Felzenberg teaches at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania. Felzenberg was the principal spokesman for the 9/11 Commission, an advisor to the Department of Defense and the Voice of America, and served in several senior staff positions at the U.S. House of Representatives, and as New Jersey’s Assistant Secretary of State. His most recent book is Governor Tom Kean. He lives in Washington, D.C.
Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Preface vii

1 The Rating Game 1

2 Character 11

3 Vision 79

4 Competence 109

5 Economic Policy 171

6 Preserving and Extending Liberty 255

7 Defense, National Security, and Foreign Policy 331

8 What Does It All Mean? 365

The Presidential Scorecard 378

Afterword-George W. Bush: An Early Assessment 379

Acknowledgments 421

Economic Data Sources 423

Notes 427

Index 467

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 2 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 3, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted December 3, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)