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Reassessing the Presidency : The Rise of the Executive State and the Decline of Freedom Hardcover – June 1, 2001


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 826 pages
  • Publisher: Mises Institute (June 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0945466293
  • ISBN-13: 978-0945466291
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6 x 2.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #806,745 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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If you want a history from the perspective of our founding fathers, read this book.
Al Swanson
It's an excellent work that strips away warm fuzzy feelings about past presidents and takes a much needed critical look at their actions.
Mike B.
I recommend this book for libertarians (classical liberals) looking for persuasive rhetorical fact ammo.
Lee Robinson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

44 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Andrew S. Rogers VINE VOICE on June 21, 2002
Format: Hardcover
As a student of the presidency, I'm nearly at a loss to describe how interesting and important the essays in this collection are. This high quality is just what I've come to expect from the scholars and writers at the Ludwig von Mises Institute, and if I could give this title six or seven stars, I would.
As in any collection of essays, some of the ones here assembled are better than others. Taken as a whole, though, they are a powerful indictment of how the increasing centralization of power in the office of the presidency has resulted in the destruction of America's heritage of individual liberty and decentralized government. Some of the articles that struck me as particularly valuable (or just as fascinating reads) include:
* H. Arthur Scott Trask's study of Thomas Jefferson. This is one of the best attempts I've yet seen to grapple with the question, not only of whether Jefferson himself can justly be called a 'libertarian,' but also the specific issue of whether his two terms as president advanced or hindered the cause of liberty.
* Marshall L. DeRosa's 'Supreme Court as Accomplice: Judicial Backing for a Despotic Presidency.' While all three branches of government are to blame for the centralization of power in Washington, the Supreme Court has, at key points in history, been particularly destructive. DeRosa gives us chapter and verse.
* Randall G. Holcombe's 'The Electoral College as a Restraint on American Democracy.' This article goes beyond other analyses of the Electoral College in explaining how the Founders really intended the body to function, why it never did, and how it was early corrupted and twisted by the influence of party and faction.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By R. Setliff on January 4, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
~Reassessing the Presidency : The Rise of the Executive State and the Decline of Freedom~ is an intriguing historical assessment of the American Presidency, which has become one of the most powerful institutions in the world. Likewise, the American Presidency has dramatically changed since its inception. Most modern history books on the Presidency are characterized by adulation of executive power, administrative largess, and aggressive federal intervention in domestic, economic and foreign policy. Nonetheless, this powerful reassessment of the Presidency by the Mises Institute challenges such hagiographic tomes that idolize the President and venerate the dictatorial Presidents for their constitutional usurpations and assumptions of un-delegated power solidified as precedent.

This powerful tome is essentially an anthology of essays offering a critical analysis of the Presidency as an institution, and the various Presidents through the year, as well as an assessment of their policy prerogatives, etc. Most of the authors do not mince words and they hold to a priori presupposition that constitutionally limited government is desirable and offer no apologies in their condemnation of those who usurp it. Some contributors are cynical enough to bluntly declare the utter impossibility of limited government like Hans-Hermann Hoppe.

The various contributors include a motley crew of intellectuals from Old Right thinkers, classical liberals, libertarians and southern conservatives. Generally, their harmony of perspective includes advocacy of a non-interventionist foreign policy based on armed neutrality, strategic independence and open commerce, as well as support of a laissez-faire market economy. Amongst the more notable contributors are: John V.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Mike B. on January 20, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Reassessing the Presidency shatters long held myths about some of the occupants of the White House and instead exposes their real actions. Denson's work documents how the decline of liberty and the rise in power of the executive of the United States has gone hand in hand.
The opening part of the book focusses on how presidents are "ranked" by historians, drawing the conclusion that most often, presidents that created more outlays by spending more and enlarging the federal budget where ranked as better then those who were more fiscally conservative with the taxpayers dollars. While the closing section is devoted to the impossibly of a limited government and offers the solutions in overcoming our current situation.
Denson then takes a critical look at the Lincoln and Roosevelt administration as both men used war and crisis to further enhance their power and control. Well, outside the presidency's constitutional limits. And how future presidents such as Truman would further build on earlier power grabs, turning the executive branch into what it has become today.
Denson's work even takes a look at some less know and documented president's and their role such as Van Buren work in the creation of modern political parties. And how the Supreme Court has acted helped to create the modern presidency.
It's an excellent work that strips away warm fuzzy feelings about past presidents and takes a much needed critical look at their actions.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 15, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Denson writes with an entirely entertaining style and rapier wit when it comes to his own essays -- giving other fine writers such as Robert Caro (a fine biographer of Lyndon Johnson) a run for their money. Just as valuable as Denson's essays are the contributions of the other authors included in this book. For starters, Denson clearly states the book's thesis and supports it without larding on aimless details, faulty logic, and unsupported opinions such as the stultifying tree-killer and sycophant, Eric Larrabee (vast sections of which cause you to wonder why you are reading it). The first essay, which is an assessment of presidential spending (granting that Congress plays its own role and follows its own agenda) brings some fascinating surprises. Sure to enrage both conservates and what we call "liberals," the co-economist/authors of the first essay reveal some startling facts. For example, Ronald Reagan's spending is more lavish than the much-reviled Clinton's. Furthermore, much-ignored presidents come out on top as the finest managers of the public purse -- with spendthrifts such as FDR, Hoover, Lincoln, and Lyndon Johnson taking their place in debtors' prison at the bottom of the list. Someone should have taken away their credit cards.
Even more interesting are the new dimensions of Washington, Madison, and Jefferson that are revealed in the essays of Gordon and Trask.
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