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Leading from the Center: Why Moderates Make the Best Presidents Hardcover – June 10, 2008

4.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This well-intended book is an enjoyable exercise in wishful thinking. Historian Troy of McGill University (Morning in America) plays the part of pundit by arguing that moderate presidents have always served the U.S. better than others. Americans are centrists at heart, he says, tracing the ups and downs of national consensus through the Bush administration. Yet Lincoln, one of Troy's heroes, wasn't moderate when it came to secession—he refused to compromise. Troy's definition of best presidents is also open to debate. Does best mean most effective or most conforming to Troy's centrist hopes? The author may think he's swimming in fresh waters, but instead he's offering a venerable American prayer for tranquil and harmonious government. The founders themselves deplored partisanship. And while Troy claims to roam over all American presidential history, he picks and chooses his early subjects, then deals with every president since FDR. Nevertheless, he makes his case in as robust a fashion as possible. That his history is stronger than his argument doesn't detract from the pleasure of the work. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

About the Author

A native of Queens, New York, Gil Troy is currently Professor of History at McGill University. He is the author of several books, including Morning in America: How Ronald Reagan Invented the 1980s and Hillary Rodham Clinton: Polarizing First Lady. He comments frequently about the American presidency on television and radio, and has published articles in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Boston Globe, and USA Weekend.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books (June 10, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0465002935
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465002931
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.2 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #498,522 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Gil Troy is the award-winning author of "The Age of Clinton: America in the 1990s" which will be published this October by Thomas Dunne Books of St. Martin׳s Press. A Professor of History at McGill University since 1990, and a visiting scholar this fall at The Brookings Institution, this will be his eleventh book. A leading presidential historian, Troy has also written about the history of American presidential elections, Ronald Reagan and the 1980s, Hillary Clinton, the importance of moderation in American democracy, and Daniel Patrick Moynihan's fight as US Ambassador to the UN against the infamous Zionism is Racism resolution. He writes a regular column for the Daily Beast on Forgotten History, putting current events in historical perspective and also writes a regular column for the Jerusalem Post. He has been widely published in The New York Times, The New Republic, and other major media outlets. Long designated by Maclean's Magazine as one of McGill's "Popular Profs," he is a sought-after public speaker.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Unexpected high ratings for George Washington and JFK. And I now have a much higher opinion of FDR.

Not expected: scathing reviews of LBJ and Clinton, both whom I considered to be at least highly capable politicians.

Upshot: You can count decent American presidents on two hands. Most were useless or worse.

Complaints. Troy should have followed his own wisdom and had a history expert review this book for possible oversights before publication. Ex. In a book about making tough decisions, how can you sum up Harry Truman without mentioning the firing of MacArthur?

Troy is also hard on several presidents, even Reagan, for being weak about various Arab nation crimes. But in the discussion how can you not mention that these countries sit on half the world's oil?

Highly recommended for high school or college American Government or US History classes. Skillful, stylish writing. More interesting than the title suggests

"Leaders must try building bridges . . . playing to the center, not to the base."

"Political parties become destructive when they demonize and polarize."
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Format: Hardcover
I was extremely happy with this book. Wonderfully written, it provided a deep and meaningful historical background to the upcoming election, which will clearly be defined by its moderate nominees.

I recommend this book to anyone with an interest in American political history, or with an interest in the 2008 election. It is an extremely engaging account of moderate presidents, and why they were successful. How timely!
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Format: Hardcover
Bravo Mr. Troy!

What a dynamic read, what a tour de force! Once again, Gil Troy brings his poetic talents to the realm of american political history, and gives us another masterpiece. Whether you agree with his positions or not, you cannot help but be enthralled by his style and respect his talent for debate.

Leading from the Center is a must-read for anyone with an interest in our country's great political traditions. Not only will you learn much about this timely topic, but you'll have fun doing it!
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