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Lincoln's Way: How Six Great Presidents Created American Power Hardcover – September 16, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

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.

(Publishers Weekly)

[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, author of A Mad Catastrophe: The Outbreak of World War I and the Collapse of the Habsburg Empire)

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 312 pages
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers (September 16, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1442200650
  • ISBN-13: 978-1442200654
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 0.9 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #549,905 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I'm a history professor, and I write about a great many subjects: presidential studies, political ideology, economics, architecture, film, historic preservation. I've taught at Washington College in Chestertown Maryland for over twenty years. I'm a maverick independent, a free thinker, and I like to work "outside the box." Besides my books -- Father Abraham, Lincoln's Way, Supernatural Romance in Film, Lincoln and Race -- I've contributed to the New York Times "Disunion" on-line series on the Civil War, and I've written op eds for the Washington Post, CNN.COM, and History News Network.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By William A. Shear on November 16, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I just had the pleasure of reading "Lincon's Way," by Richard Striner, which I found to be not only exceptionally well-written, but a wise analysis as well, and a clear diagnosis of what ails America. I wish I could compel thoughtful leaders at all levels to read it. As a teacher myself, I could clearly see that this book was written by a teacher--it is as easy to follow as well-thought-out lecture.

The results of Striner's analysis are entirely agreeable to me. The Presidents he portray as examples for the encumbent just happen to be my personal choices for greatness--at least since Lincoln; I'm a great admirer of George Washington, but he was a unique individual in a unique situation. Maybe at some time in the future Striner will turn his attention to him.

Just by a coincidence I had a few days ago written some notes for myself on the further contradictions of Jefferson's character and performance, noting the contrast between his agrarian libertarianism and his high-handed behavior in the White House. So it was gratifying to find something of the same strain in Striner's treatment. I agree with Striner that radical, unconsidered libertarianism is one of the historic strains poisoning our present discourse.

This is an important book, and should be read by every concerned citizen.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Robert Kirk VINE VOICE on June 8, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Read the title, guess it's about the greatness of Lincoln and then expect to read about 6 presidents. Simple, right??? Well, not so fast. This book does reference some early presidents and some notable success and failure and then does discuss Lincoln and his attributes. But then the strange part of this book appears as it becomes a relatively negative account of every president from Woodrow Wilson up until George Bush. The author then writes optimistically of Obama. Was this book suppose to compare Lincoln to every other president? Was it suppose to teach us how to be a better leader? Well, it turns out to be a left leaning, presidential history book. Just so you know. In summary, ehhhhhh,,,, there are better ways to study the greatness of Lincoln.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Richard C. Jensen on November 2, 2012
Format: Paperback
First off, I never "wanted" this book. It arrived from the History Book Club because I forgot to check off "don't want it" in time before they mailed their monthly selection to me. I kept it and finally read it. I'm not a big fan of American History at all but this book did teach me a few things about economics and some other things. I may not be the most distinguished critic of American History books, but here's what I do know: the first 2/3 of the book is fine. In fact, you may want to read the first 150 or so pages and quit right there with Kennedy. After that, it's basically a non-stop negative rant about all presidents after Kennedy. I don't mind a critique of recent presidents, because they do need a critique, but the problem is that the author is not consistent in his condemnation of the recent presidents after Kennedy. In general he will write something like "His policy was too Liberal" and then on the next page writes "His policy was too Conservative". I understand that each situation a president faces calls for a unique policy of problem solving, but hindsight is 20/20, and you can't just bash the recent presidents every which way, just because you know exactly how they failed after the fact. The six presidents featured in the book certainly made their share of mistakes, but that is glossed over compared to the extreme disdain the author has for the presidents after Kennedy. In general, I do agree with most of what the author's views are on the economy, which is government and private industry working together to solve problems, instead of supply-side economics and the trickle-down theory. The problem is that if a recent president didn't endorse exactly what the author wanted economically, they are vilified. Everyone is thrown into the same boat: Carter with Reagan; Clinton with Bush Jr.Read more ›
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