From Publishers Weekly
American history is defined in part by the tensions between liberal and conservative ideologies. Presidents have typically favored one ideology or another, causing the country to careen between different poles. Beginning with Lincoln, however, a few presidents have managed to strike a balance that resulted in incredibly productive periods of American growth, according to the author. Striner's (Father Abraham) comprehensive study of American political history is not without an agenda. The author, professor or history at Pennsylvania's Washington College, clearly believes that the path to American greatness is through a specific regulatory balance, and he supports his theory by examining the presidencies of Abraham Lincoln, T. Roosevelt, F.D. Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower, and Kennedy, before examining the mistakes of Reagan, Bush, Clinton, and Bush and speculating on the presidency of Barack Obama. As persuasive a writer as Striner is, his focus on economic policy may bore as many readers as it fascinates. Yet despite his narrow thesis, readers interested in economic policy and history will be intrigued by his highly accessible study.
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Richard Striner brings the remarkable range of his knowledge to this study of the ways in which six presidents from Lincoln to Kennedy expanded the powers of the federal government and of their office to promote positive, progressive change in the American polity. Drawing on a lifetime of scholarship, the author writes with great clarity for a general audience beyond the academy, while at the same time offering original insights that deepen and broaden our understanding of how the government promoted greater justice and equity in the American socioeconomic order during the century from the 1860s to the 1960s. (James M. McPherson, Princeton University)A must-read for lovers of American history—a fresh and spirited presentation of some of our greatest leaders, with special emphasis on key ideas, presented in a broad intellectual framework. An unforgettable book.
(James MacGregor Burns, Williams College)
While distilling the essence of Lincoln's philosophy and showing its impact on later successful presidents, the author suggests a reasonable path for breaking the contemporary stalemate between liberals and conservatives. Sure to provoke interest and debate—it deserves the widest possible attention.
(William D. Pederson, Louisiana State University in Shreveport)
Readers . . . will be intrigued by [Striner's] highly accessible study.
[Striner] makes a strong case for approaching American power and policies from a long historical perspective. A book to stir debate, even anger, but well worth the insights it offers to those studying U.S. presidential leadership. (Library Journal
)Striner injects . . . a new point of view. . . . He tells a fascinating history. . . . Striner blows away the thick smoke and breaks the mirrors to reveal a sane, middle option for people of vision to use our collective assets to build a strong nation that can provide us the essence of our unique system of governance—the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
(The Roanoke Times
Drawing from Herbert Croly's The Promise of an American Life
(1909), Striner argues Hamiltonian means for Jeffersonian ends employed by men who 'blended wisdom and power from conservative and liberal thought.' Beginning with Lincoln, who 'held aloft American ideals,' the reader walks a boulevard experiencing numerous detours while delighting in such moments as Eisenhower's 'middle way' serving as a reflection of Theodore Roosevelt's 'cautious progressivism.' Numerous historical asides . . . highlight the philosophical underpinnings of the founders' desire for American power exercised as guardianship. . . . Summing Up: Recommended. (CHOICE
)This brilliant new book explores a subject that is especially poignant and urgent today: the rise (under six great presidents), and steady collapse since, of leadership and bipartisanship. . . . Lincoln's Way seamlessly weaves a very sophisticated discussion of complex financial issues as well as cultural changes into the narrative. . . . This is an invigorating, astonishingly clear exploration.
(Geoffrey Wawro, for the History Book Club)