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. Merry examines how and why presidents succeed and fail by recounting the judgments of historians and comparing them to how the voters saw things. Was the president re-elected and, then, did his party hold office in the subsequent election? Where They Stand explores the chief executives Merry calls "Men of Destiny," those who set the country toward new directions. Contemporaries and historians agree on Lincoln, Washington, and FDR. He describes the "Split-Decision Presidents" (Wilson and Nixon)-successful in their first terms and reelected; less successful in their second terms, succeeded by the opposition party; the "Near Greats" (Jefferson, Jackson, Polk, TR, Truman); the flat out failures (Buchanan, Andrew Johnson, Fillmore, Pierce); and those whose standing has fluctuated (Grant, Cleveland, Eisenhower). This voyage through all our history provides a sometimes surprising 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 presidential politics, Where They Stand will have a huge political presence.
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Simon & Schuster
June 01, 2012
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