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Rating The Presidents: A Ranking of U.S. Leaders, from the Great and Honorable to the Dishonest and Incompetent Paperback – October 1, 2000


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 306 pages
  • Publisher: Citadel; Revised edition (October 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0806521511
  • ISBN-13: 978-0806521510
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,528,569 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Patrick L. Randall VINE VOICE on September 3, 2003
Format: Paperback
"Rating the Presidents" is a solid primer and reference manual about the many men who have held the highest office in the land, from George Washington to Bill Clinton. Certainly, there have been many attempts in the past to try and quantify to relative successes and failures of each Presidency, and there have definitely been lists of the best to worst Presidents. In most cases, however, these attempts at rankings are nothing more than thinly-veiled, politically biased extrapolations. People with an axe to grind against either political party would likely thrust a President from the opposition party somewhere low on the list. Certainly, there have been many attempts in the past to try and quantify to relative successes and failures of each Presidency, and there have definitely been lists of the best to worst Presidents. In most cases, however, these attempts at rankings are nothing more than thinly-veiled, politically biased extrapolations. People with an axe to grind against either political party would likely thrust a President from the opposition party somewhere low on the list. William Ridings and Stuart McIver, however, make a concerted effort to present as objective a set of criteria as possible for rating the presidents, as well as consulting the least subjective sources for the material and evidence to support the ratings. What results is a relatively fair and balanced assessment of where each Presidency finds itself in the harsh glare of history. There are few surprises with Abraham Lincoln being rated #1 and Warren G. Harding being rated the worst, but people might be surprised to find that Bill Clinton not rated as badly as some would think, while John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan aren't rated as highly as one would assume. The ratings might seem debatable, and they may very well provoke debate, but when one sits down to assess them, they will realize that this books provides a fair judgment of all of our Commanders-in-Chief.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Robert Roser on April 17, 2001
Format: Paperback
The concept of this book and the compilation of comments by historians is very good. It is unfortunately marred by some historical mistakes which could have been avoided by the authors. For example, George Washington did not move to Mount Vernon from Pope's Creek. He grew up at Ferry Farm opposite Fredericksburg. US Grant was not forced to resign from the Army for drunkenness. He was homesick for his family (which caused the drinking). He received a promotion to permanent captain (not an easy task in that army) the same day he resigned. Lots of mention of Republican fraud in the 1876 election but none of the Southern intimidation and violence at the polling places. And George Bush did not support the independence of the Soviet republics. He was in Kiev the day before Ukraine declared its independence asking them to stay in the Soviet Union. He did not recognize the Baltic republics until long after Western Europe did. Good marks for concept and ratings, fair for content.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 19, 2003
Format: Paperback
No one system for ranking presidents will satisfy all readers. Ranking presidents, first started by Arthur Schlesinger Sr. and Jr., has become a matter for intense debate. Authors Ridings and McIver have accomplished a difficult task started in 1989. They relied on the input of 719 individuals, 97% from academic historians and political scientists, with input from a few elected officials, lawyers and journalists.
The most intense political debate will involve two of the most recent presidents, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton. Both were two term presidents, excellent media performers, each with a strong partisan following.
Ridings-McIver has produced an excellent reference source, educational tool and fair minded ranking of the American presidency.
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