The American President: From Teddy Roosevelt to Bill Clinton

The American President: From Teddy Roosevelt to Bill Clinton

The American President: From Teddy Roosevelt to Bill Clinton

The American President: From Teddy Roosevelt to Bill Clinton

Synopsis

The American President is an enthralling account of American presidential actions from the assassination of William McKinley in 1901 to Bill Clinton's last night in office in January 2001. William Leuchtenburg, one of the great presidential historians of the century, portrays each of the presidents in a chronicle sparkling with anecdote and wit. Leuchtenburg offers a nuanced assessment of their conduct in office, preoccupations, and temperament. His book presents countless moments of high drama: FDR hurling defiance at the "economic royalists" who exploited the poor; ratcheting tension for JFK as Soviet vessels approach an American naval blockade; a grievously wounded Reagan joking with nurses while fighting for his life. This book charts the enormous growth of presidential power from its lowly state in the late nineteenth century to the imperial presidency of the twentieth. That striking change was manifested both at home in periods of progressive reform and abroad, notably in two world wars, Vietnam, and the war on terror. Leuchtenburg sheds light on presidents battling with contradictory forces. Caught between maintaining their reputation and executing their goals, many practiced deceits that shape their image today. But he also reveals how the country's leaders pulled off magnificent achievements worthy of the nation's pride.

Excerpt

One of my favorite cartoons, which appeared in a mass-circulation magazine, was called to my attention years ago, impishly, by my teenage stepson. A father is leaning over his son who is laboring over his homework, and the boy, looking up, says, “Of course, you were good in history. You were there for most of it.”

For much the greater part of the twentieth-century American presidency, I was there. I was born in Warren Harding’s administration; once received a letter from Mrs. Woodrow Wilson assigning me rights to her husband’s The New Freedom; and, when I taught at Smith College (1949–51), lived a few doors down the block from Grace Coolidge, a lady I greatly admired.

Most of my political maturation coincided with the presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. I was nine in the summer of 1932, when my parents let me stay up late to listen to the broadcast from Chicago of the Democratic National Convention that wound up nominating him, and I was twenty-two when he died. Along with millions of other Americans, I was held spellbound by his fireside chats, and his National Youth Administration program enabled me to work my way through Cornell. Subsequently, I wrote or edited eight books about FDR and his times. At the invitation of the brilliant landscape architect Lawrence Halprin, I provided quotations to be inscribed on the FDR Memorial in Washington.

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.