Wounded Titans: American Presidents and the Perils of Power

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Max Lerner taught generations of Americans about their government: who rules, why, and how. For almost half a century, the office of the presidency preoccupied his prodigious energies and unparalleled expertise. Lerner not only wrote about the men who inhabited the Oval Office during that time, he knew them personally, from Franklin D. Roosevelt to Bill Clinton - and he knew what made them tick. Here, collected for the first time, are Lerner's complete writings on the presidency and American presidents. Wounded ...
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Overview

Max Lerner taught generations of Americans about their government: who rules, why, and how. For almost half a century, the office of the presidency preoccupied his prodigious energies and unparalleled expertise. Lerner not only wrote about the men who inhabited the Oval Office during that time, he knew them personally, from Franklin D. Roosevelt to Bill Clinton - and he knew what made them tick. Here, collected for the first time, are Lerner's complete writings on the presidency and American presidents. Wounded Titans contains Lerner's classic essays on the presidency and its development. Here, too, are his most famous presidential portraits of Jefferson and Lincoln - the presidents he believed most significantly shaped both the office and our perception of it - as well as of the men who inherited the modern-day office created by Roosevelt. Each portrait combines a rigorous and unblinking analysis of its subject's place in history with a sympathetic appreciation of his humanity. Everything about the office of the presidency fascinated Lerner, including how someone ran for it. This volume also contains the best of Lerner's campaign journalism, written for his widely syndicated column, which appeared in the New York Post for over four decades.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Edited and with an introduction by Robert Schmuhl, this is a hefty collection of the late Max Lerner's (1902-1992) writings on the American presidency. From a magazine article first published in the 1940s (on why FDR would be reelected), through essays that appeared in the 1950s (on presidential style and on how the cumbersome democratic system responds to crises), to his last newspaper column, published in 1992 (on judging presidents: Truman is his "hero"), the book reflects Lerner's dual career as both an academic and a journalist. He discusses Jefferson (our "philosopher king") and Lincoln, the role of eros and the presidency (focusing on Kennedy) and makes the hardly startling observation that, although Americans confer considerable grandeur on their elected leaders, presidents are in fact simply men, wounded titans. The shorter newspaper columnson-the-spot observations of presidents from Roosevelt to Bushfill about half the book and make for the more lively reading. The brief notes by Schmuhl, chair of the department of American studies at Notre Dame, set the stage nicely. (Nov.)
Library Journal
Part historian, part journalist, Russian-born Lerner (1902-92) brought broad background and progressive perspective to commentary on American political culture, assuring his place among 20th-century political columnists. Lerner was noted for his clarity and his criticism of rigid thinking. Schmuhl, a longtime friend of Lerner's and chair of the Department of American Studies at the University of Notre Dame, presents a useful collection of Lerner's works on the presidency, with special focus on the presidents Lerner coveredFDR through Clinton. While he considered FDR the century's greatest president, he came to admire Truman the most. This volume would have been enhanced by a biographical survey evaluating Lerner and his place in political commentary. Recommended for specialized collections.William D. Pederson, Louisiana State Univ., Shreveport
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781559703390
  • Publisher: Arcade Publishing
  • Publication date: 10/16/1996
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 6.51 (w) x 9.59 (h) x 1.48 (d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Editor's Introduction
Author's Prologue
The Style and Genius of American Politics 5
Presidency and Demos 13
Presidential Leadership in the New America 24
Wounded Titans 31
The Shaping of American Presidents 46
Eros and Power 62
Desire and Power in the White House 86
The Ardors and Tribulations of the Journey of Liberalism 103
Thomas Jefferson: America's Philosopher-King 127
Abraham Lincoln: From the People, For the People 139
Franklin D. Roosevelt: The Flawed Paradigm 152
Harry S Truman: The Plutarchian President 186
Richard Nixon: The Torturous Descent from Olympus 218
Ronald Reagan: Commander of a Counterrevolution 252
1940: Roosevelt vs. Willkie 269
1944: Roosevelt vs. Dewey 276
1948: Truman vs. Dewey 290
1952: Eisenhower vs. Stevenson 299
1956: Eisenhower vs. Stevenson 310
1960: Kennedy vs. Nixon 327
1964: Johnson vs. Goldwater 344
1968: Nixon vs. Humphrey 353
1972: Nixon vs. McGovern 371
1976: Carter vs. Ford 382
1980: Reagan vs. Carter 396
1984: Reagan vs. Mondale 405
1988: Bush vs. Dukakis 415
1992: Clinton vs. Bush 425
President Hunting in an Electronic Wonderland 431
Coda: The Last Column 436
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