Presidential Leadership: Rating the Best and the Worst in the White House

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James Taranto, Leonard Leo
Free Press, 2004 - History - 291 pages
6 Reviews

What makes a president great? Two of America's most prominent institutions, The Wall Street Journal and the Federalist Society, with the help of a wide array of eminent scholars, journalists, and political leaders, tackle this question in Presidential Leadership, the definitive ranking of our nation's chief executives.

Based on a survey conducted by the Federalist Society and the Journal, Presidential Leadership examines presidential performance in this collection of provocative, enlightening essays written by a distinguished and diverse group of authors.

The survey included seventy-eight liberal and conservative scholars, balancing the sample to reflect the political makeup of the U.S. population as a whole. It represents the first national survey in book form that provides a complete ranking of the presidents, along with an appendix that explains the methodology in detail and includes a wide range of valuable data. The result is an important, fresh, and engaging book, rating the presidents from Washington to Clinton and including an early assessment of George W. Bush's presidency by Journal editorial page editor Paul Gigot. Nearly fifty contributors provide their insights, with one essay on each president or on a broader issue of presidential leadership. Among them:

Forrest McDonald on Thomas Jefferson

Lynne Cheney on James Madison

Douglas Brinkley on James Polk

Christopher Buckley on James Buchanan

Jay Winik on Abraham Lincoln

John McCain on Theodore Roosevelt

Robert Dallek on Lyndon B. Johnson

Peggy Noonan on John F. Kennedy

Paul Johnson on Bill Clinton

Their compelling essays, packed with fascinating and often surprising insights, analyze the best and worst of our commanders in chief. Presidential Leadership is the lively result, at once a valuable reference and a tremendously readable collection.

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Review: Presidential Leadership: Rating the Best and the Worst in the White House

User Review  - Joshua Perry - Goodreads

Worthwhile introduction to the men who have led our country. Many great leaders. Some inexplicably bad ones. Written from a relatively conservative viewpoint (although the rankings are more liberal: FDR is rated at #3). Useful and concise. Read full review

Review: Presidential Leadership: Rating the Best and the Worst in the White House

User Review  - Steven Raszewski - Goodreads

Informative. Read full review


Presidents Greatness and History by William J Bennett
The Presidency Federalist No 10 and the Constitution by Steven G Calabresi
The Rankings

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About the author (2004)

James Taranto is editor of ", " the website of "The Wall Street Journal's" editorial page.

Leonard Leo serves as executive vice president of the Federalist Society, an organization of 35,000 lawyers and other individuals committed to limited, constitutional government as envisioned by the framers of the Constitution.

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