Where They Stand: The American Presidents in the Eyes of Voters and Historiansby Robert W. Merry
For the 2012 presidential race, the author of the acclaimed and successful biography of President James Polk offers a fresh, playful, and challenging way of playing “Rating the Presidents”—America’s favorite game—by pitching historians’ views and subsequent experts’ polls against the judgment and votes of the
For the 2012 presidential race, the author of the acclaimed and successful biography of President James Polk offers a fresh, playful, and challenging way of playing “Rating the Presidents”—America’s favorite game—by pitching historians’ views and subsequent experts’ polls against the judgment and votes of the presidents’ own contemporaries.Merry examines how and why presidents succeed and fail by recounting the judgments of historians and comparing them to how the voters saw things. Was the president re-elected and, then, did his party hold office in the subsequent election?
Where They Stand explores the chief executives Merry calls “Men of Destiny,” those who set the country toward new directions. Contemporaries and historians agree on Lincoln, Washington, and FDR. He describes the “Split-Decision Presidents” (Wilson and Nixon)—successful in their first terms and reelected; less successful in their second terms, succeeded by the opposition party; the “Near Greats” (Jefferson, Jackson, Polk, TR, Truman); the flat out failures (Buchanan, Andrew Johnson, Fillmore, Pierce); and those whose standing has fluctuated (Grant, Cleveland, Eisenhower).
This voyage through all our history provides a sometimes surprising analysis of how presidential politics works, and how the country sets its course. Where They Stand invites readers to pitch their opinions against the voters of old, the historians, the pollsters—and, against the author himself. In this year of presidential politics, Where They Stand will have a huge political presence.
“Merry’s intelligent and informed book casts welcome light on this always fascinating debate.”—The Washington Times
“Buy [this] book, take it to the beach, and bring the subject up with the after-dinner drinks. A long and loud discussion should ensue.”—The American Conservative
“It is rare that such a breezy book exhibits both serious intent and skillful analysis…Such grounded reflections make this an unusually authoritative book. While likely to be catnip for aficionados of presidential studies, this will also quickly rank high among serious works on the presidency.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review
“Entertaining and likely to teach most readers something new—an especially good read in an election year.”—Kirkus Reviews
"Madison or Reagan? Ulysses Grant or Jimmy Carter? Readers who accept Robert Merry's challenge to rank the forty-four U.S. presidents will learn a great deal painlessly about America's history but may also confront a few uncomfortable biases and blinders of their own. Where They Stand is the most enjoyable of election-year party games."—A.J. Langguth, author of Driven West: Andrew Jackson and the Trail of Tears to the Civil War
“Nobody is a shrewder judge of American politics—now or then—than Bob Merry. He takes us down a new path to rate the presidentsand has some fun along the way.”—Evan Thomas, author of Ike's Bluff: President Eisenhower's Secret Struggle to Save the World
- Simon & Schuster
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 6.62(w) x 9.32(h) x 1.00(d)
Meet the Author
Robert Merry is the editor of The National Interest. He has been a Washington correspondent for the Wall Street Journal and the Executive Editor of the Congressional Quarterly. He has written for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Weekly Standard, The National Review, The American Spectator, and The National Interest. He has appeared in Meet the Press, Face the Nation, Newsmakers, and many other programs. He lives in McLean, Virginia.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
See all customer reviews
An interesting book full of facts and helpful information.