Though "best of" lists can be informative and entertaining, ranking the American presidents may seem an arbitrary and ultimately flawed historical exercise. How does, after all, one compare the disparate time periods and political climates of, say, George Washington and George Bush? Taking such arguments into account, William J. Ridings Jr. and Stuart B. McIver have gathered the opinions of experts on the subject to compile a list of the best and worst presidents. These rankings are based on five criteria: leadership qualities, accomplishments and crisis management, political skill, appointments, and character and integrity. The authors polled more than 700 historians and political scientists to determine the strengths and weaknesses of the 41 executives, declaring Abraham Lincoln the best and Warren G. Harding the worst. The five categories allow each man to be viewed on several different levels, and often these individual assessments are the most interesting. For instance, John F. Kennedy ranks eighth in leadership qualities, but thrity-fourth in character and integrity; John Adams ranks third in character and integrity, but twenty-first in political skill. As the poll reflects, possessing skills and positive attributes in one area does not necessarily guarantee success in the White House; many qualities are necessary to be a great president. Of course, countless external factors influence a presidency as well, and the authors supply a detailed overview of each administration to provide the proper historical perspective and lend credence to the rankings. A useful reference guide and history primer, Rating the Presidents
is a valuable companion for history buffs.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.