Inventing the Job of President : Leadership Style from George Washington to Andrew Jackson
From George Washington's decision to buy time for the new nation by signing the less-than-ideal Jay Treaty with Great Britain in 1795 to George W. Bush's order of a military intervention in Iraq in 2003, the matter of who is president of the United States is of the utmost importance. In this book, Fred Greenstein examines the leadership styles of the earliest presidents, men who served at a time when it was by no means certain that the American experiment in free government would succeed.
In his groundbreaking book The Presidential Difference, Greenstein evaluated the personal strengths and weaknesses of the modern presidents since Franklin D. Roosevelt. Here, he takes us back to the very founding of the republic to apply the same yardsticks to the first seven presidents from Washington to Andrew Jackson, giving his no-nonsense assessment of the qualities that did and did not serve them well in office. For each president, Greenstein provides a concise history of his life and presidency, and evaluates him in the areas of public communication, organizational capacity, political skill, policy vision, cognitive style, and emotional intelligence. Washington, for example, used his organizational prowess--honed as a military commander and plantation owner--to lead an orderly administration. In contrast, John Adams was erudite but emotionally volatile, and his presidency was an organizational disaster.
Inventing the Job of President explains how these early presidents and their successors shaped the American presidency we know today and helped the new republic prosper despite profound challenges at home and abroad.
In his career, Greenstein (politics, emeritus, Princeton; The Presidential Difference) has examined the presidency as closely, critically, and convincingly as any recent presidential scholar. He is especially known for scrutinizing strengths and weaknesses in public communication, organizational capacity, political skill, policy vision, cognitive style, and emotional intelligence. While he has previously analyzed modern U.S. Presidents, here in this concise yet insightful volume he analyzes our first seven leaders, demonstrating effectively their similarities and differences that support his central thesis that, at any given time, it matters who happens to be President. None has had the same personal and political skills. Greenstein's approach, emphasizing particular (and at times rather idiosyncratic) personal strengths and weaknesses, is distinct from Stephen Skowronek's The Politics That Presidents Make, which focuses more on the political environment and the times in which various Presidents served. Greenstein here helps students of the presidency realize that not all Presidents are created equal, and that leadership style clearly matters. VERDICT This latest addition to the Greenstein corpus will find a receptive audience in scholars of the Presidency and those interested in leadership and American political history. Highly recommended.-Stephen K. Shaw, Northwest Nazarene Univ., Nampa, ID (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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Princeton University Press
August 10, 2009
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