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 presidents&… See more details below
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.
The author of the acclaimed biography of President James Polk, A Country of Vast Designs, offers a fresh, playful, and challenging way of playing “Rating the Presidents,” by pitching historians’ views and subsequent experts’ polls against the judgment and votes of the presidents’ own contemporaries.
Merry posits that presidents rise and fall based on performance, as judged by the electorate. Thus, he explores the presidency by comparing the judgments of historians with how the voters saw things. Was the president reelected? If so, did his party hold office in the next election?
Where They Stand examines the chief executives Merry calls “Men of Destiny,’’ those who set the country toward new directions. There are six of them, including the three nearly always at the top of all academic polls—Lincoln, Washington, and FDR. He describes the “Split-Decision Presidents’’ (including Wilson and Nixon)—successful in their first terms and reelected; less successful in their second terms and succeeded by the opposition party. He describes the “Near Greats’’ (Jefferson, Jackson, Polk, TR, Truman), the “War Presidents’’ (Madison, McKinley, Lyndon Johnson), the flat-out failures (Buchanan, Pierce), and those whose standing has fluctuated (Grant, Cleveland, Eisenhower).
This voyage through our history provides a probing and provocative 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 raucous presidential politics, Where They Stand will provide a context for the unfolding campaign drama.
“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
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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.
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An interesting book full of facts and helpful information.