Customer Reviews


14 Reviews
5 star:
 (8)
4 star:
 (4)
3 star:
 (2)
2 star:    (0)
1 star:    (0)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favorable review
The most helpful critical review


44 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excuse my gushing, but this book is REALLY good
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...
Published on June 21, 2002 by Andrew S. Rogers

versus
3 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A different perspective
Reassessing the Presidency prompts readers to re-think the popular views of American presidents. It is iconoclastic towards FDR, Wilson, Teddy R, and Lincoln. It also focuses much needed attention on lesser-known Presidents like Van Buren. Its best parts are in the middle. The statistical analysis in the 1st chapter is simplistic and the "impossibility" chapter near the...
Published on July 12, 2001 by D. W. MacKenzie


‹ Previous | 1 2 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

44 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excuse my gushing, but this book is REALLY good, June 21, 2002
This review is from: Reassessing the Presidency : The Rise of the Executive State and the Decline of Freedom (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.
* William Marina's excellent 'From Opponent of Empire to Career Opportunist: William Howard Taft as Conservative Bureaucrat in the Evolution of the American Imperial System.' In tracing Taft's career, Marina shows how foreign and domestic empire-building inevitably go hand-in-hand. This is an insightful and unexpectedly timely essay.
The two concluding essays, by Hans-Hermann Hoppe and Clyde N. Wilson, are also excellent summaries of the changing nature of the presidency and the likelihood, or lack thereof, for meaningful change. Other essays -- including those by Thomas J. DiLorenzo (of 'The Real Lincoln' fame), Ralph Raico, Joseph R. Stromberg, Jeffrey Rogers Hummel, and editor John V. Denson -- are of similar high quality. Space prevents me giving each of them the raves they deserve.
Each of these essays challenges the accepted hagiography of the presidency as an office, and of individual presidents as well. The men generally voted by historians as among our 'greatest' chief executives -- notably FDR, Lincoln, and Truman -- are proven in these pages to have been among the worst, most dangerous, and least worthy of canonization. The Mises Institute is never afraid to challenge the old orthodoxies (founder Lew Rockwell has called for the abolition of the office of the presidency altogether), and here they have done so, not only with skill and insight, but almost compulsive readability as well.
I have no hesitation, even now, in declaring this my Book of the Year for 2002 (it was published in 2001, but I'm a little behind in my reading). It's a bit of an effort to carry around, but it's definitely worth the exertion.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Reassessing the Presidency, Cincinnatus to Caesar, January 4, 2004
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Reassessing the Presidency : The Rise of the Executive State and the Decline of Freedom (Hardcover)
~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. Denson (author of The Costs of War: America's Pyrrhic Victories); Marshall L. DeRosa; Thomas J. DiLorenzo (author of the Real Lincoln); Paul Gottfried (author of After Liberalism); Hanns-Herman Hoppe (author of Democracy: The God that Failed); Jeffrey Rogers Hummel (author of Emancipating Slaves, Enslaving Free Men); Joseph R. Stromberg, and Clyde Wilson (editor of John C. Calhoun's papers).

One of the more interesting essays penned by Marshall DeRosa is entitled "Supreme Court As Accomplice." It essentially documents judicial backing for what he characterizes as a despotic presidency. He starts by going over history from Old Republic constitutional foundations to a FDR's stacking the court to move the New Deal along. Another interesting piece is featured on the Electoral College. One essay by J.R. Hummel offers a history of an unsung hero, Martin Van Buren, and he wins acclaim chiefly for his advocacy of an independent treasury system where all federal government monies are kept in a federal depository, which is attendant to his opposition to a national bank. Marshall DeRosa and Thomas DiLorenzo offer a slew of indictments against Abraham Lincoln whose administration was characterized by executive usurpation of constitutionally delegated powers. They see the bittersweet precedent for usurpation set by the Lincoln regime. President Andrew Johnson receives extol as the tribune of states' rights and with putting an end to radical reconstruction. Also, several essays wrestle with the assent of the Imperial dreams of grandeur by William McKinley who architected the American empire and the belligerent Teddy Roosevelt are met with a piercing critique of their policies. They acted to repudiate the founding father's advocacy of armed neutrality and condemnation of reckless interventionism and expansionism. Teddy Roosevelt who is the darling of neoconservatives and progressives alike receives no praise here. His personality is demonstrated as megalomaniac as was his bloodlust for war. Roosevelt publicly scathed the idea of limited government as a relic of the horse-and-buggy era. Roosevelt is famous for his trust-busting campaign, which was really a smoke and mirrors charade to espouse populist rhetoric while devising economic corporatism beneficial to favored constituencies. He was a pawn of the J.P. Morgan group and Chicago meatpackers that lobbied for a federal regulatory state to put its small-scale competitors out of business. Roosevelt labored tirelessly to engorge the Presidency by his series of usurpations in the domestic and foreign policy arena. Woodrow Wilson is not spared criticism as Wilson's naive idealism and internationalism are documented as well. Finally, America's most cherished sacred cow, the legacy of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, is trampled as the contributors make light of the ominous similarities between the New Deal and fascism. (Initially, prior to WWII, American progressives found Mussolini to be saint and his corporatist regime as a model of reform for all nations.) FDR's love affair with Joseph Stalin and his naive overtures to the Soviet Union receive an energetic documentation as well. FDR practically handed Eastern Europe to Stalin on a silver platter and did so rather enthusiastically praising the Soviet Union as a democracy. As the reassessment reaches its climax, Paul Edward Gottfried and Michael Levin offer compelling condemnations explaining how the managerial President has become a social engineer of sorts.

All things considered, this colossal read is a veritable goldmine of information and history and its honest and frank critique of the Presidency is certainly informative to say the least. These days, it seems Presidents with a fetish for usurpation of their constitutionally limited powers always seem to be the darlings of the academic and political establishment who spout out hagiographic books idolizing the worst offenders against the Constitution. Presidential dictators are trendsetters and loved by the establishment. Thus, this book is profoundly heterodox in rejecting the usual bandwagon praise for Lincoln, the two Roosevelts, Truman and Wilson. Overall, the book is amazingly astute in its observations and sharply critical of the executive state. Its conclusions, whether you agree with them or not, are extremely thought provoking and they cannot be easily dismissed. This book isn't written in a spirit of withholding judgment as conservative historian, Forrest McDonald, so often does, but rather it frankly just 'tells it like it is. One doesn't have to agree with everything in total to find it incredibly useful. Nonetheless, the book is profoundly thought provoking and a devastating indictment of an institution that has so egregiously strayed from the original intent of those that framed it and the Constitution.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A highly needed review of the presidency., January 20, 2002
This review is from: Reassessing the Presidency : The Rise of the Executive State and the Decline of Freedom (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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A New Perspective on the Presidency -- And Engaging, Too!, September 15, 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Reassessing the Presidency : The Rise of the Executive State and the Decline of Freedom (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. Going far beyond the much-discussed hypocrisy of owning slaves, Jefferson's less-than-stellar personal committment to the principles outlined in his Declaration of Independence include his unconstitutional purchase of the Louisiana Territory, his poor appointments to the Supreme Court, and his strategic failure to rein-in the Hamiltonians as they sought to vastly expand the power of centralized government once they trashed the Articles of Declaration in favor of the very fuzzy statements included in the Constitution -- much to our detriment.
The book's treatment of previously ignored presidents even shows why they have been ignored by "conventional" historians. To the power-worshipping "royal" historians that can be counted on to lavish praise on presidents that funnel great gouts of money to the education industry and to other special interest groups that relish spending money earned by other people, the skin-flint presidents and those who don't impose their "vision for America" on the populace have little to offer. But the galvanizing essays of this book depict the endless power plays that transformed the executive branch of government from a more self-regulating branch of government with an adversarial relationship between the president and vice president (balance of power even within the executive) into the imperial presidency of the past 80 years. Our pathetic high school textbooks never indicated the interesting contributions that marked the administrations of these so-called "do-nothing" presidents. For example, the chapters on Lincoln, Wilson, FDR, and Lyndon Johnson show how and why they circumvented constitutional limitations as they sought to expand their power base. Particularly enlightening for some readers will be the detailed explanation tracing the evolution of WW2 and its horrible slaughters directly out of Wilson's duplicitous entry into WW1 -- complete with jingoism and propoganda to sway the American booboisie (thank you, H.L. Mencken). These fine essays put flesh and bones on the ravening skeletons of these too-often admired Caesars -- with sags in all the wrong places. As a nice antidote to the usual historiography, the presidencies of Grant and Johnson (not Lyndon) stand out in a better comparative light. Even the Appendices offer telling insights into some of the decitful childhood propaganda we can all remember about the nearly deified Lincoln -- who should be better known for trying to imprison Supreme Court justices who disagreed with him, who closed over 100 newspapers that dared to disagree with his policies (or even were "insufficiently bellicose"), and the suspension of habeas corpus and all that it implies by the man called "Tyrant" by his assassin. This book contains everything you wanted to know about the presidency but were never told. Like Drano for clogged minds.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars HUGE book, March 17, 2009
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Reassessing the Presidency : The Rise of the Executive State and the Decline of Freedom (Hardcover)
I bought this volume on the recommendation of a good friend. If you're looking for another history written by the victor, keep looking.

I am very interested in histories from an alternative point of view. I'm not saying critical, but something different. I like when the reviewer is not in the pocket of the person or event being reviewed. If you want a history from the perspective of our founding fathers, read this book.

I am also interested in histories written when they were current events - before the colored lens of time distorts what really happened.

This book supplies both needs. But be forewarned - this is not the whitewashing of your school history books and America's presidents are not always the good guys.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Reassessing the Kings, December 2, 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Reassessing the Presidency : The Rise of the Executive State and the Decline of Freedom (Hardcover)
Denson's book is an excellent work for anyone, liberal, conservative, libertarian, or otherwise, who believes that the Presidency has become too dictatorial. If you believe in the U.S. Constitution, and have become tired of power-hungry Presidents who view Congress as just an advisory body, then this book is for you.
The book, which has chapters written by Denson and other scholars, is easy-to-read, and highlights many little-known acts of Presidents. For example, while most people know about Lincoln's views on preserving the Union, and some may know about his suspension of citizens' civil liberties, how many people actually know about his economic views?
While the book's writing and historical research is excellent, Denson unfortunately leaves out some Presidents, such as Grover Cleveland and Calvin Coolidge, who were strict constitutionalists.
Furthermore, Denson's Presidental expectations seem far too high. The book describes how Jefferson pushed for, and obtained, impeachment of two federal judges who were not adhering to the Constitution. Yet, the book then criticizes Jefferson for not going far enough -- not have more judges impeached, and not disbanding the entire federal judiciary, save the Supreme Court!
"Reassessing the Presidency" is a fine historical work, but Denson's does not seem to realize that being a strict constructionist President is difficult, especially today, and that those who strive to such an ideal should not be criticized for not being able to correct all the mistakes of past Presidents. Denson's choice of who he sees as the best American President will undoubtedly surprise the reader.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Flawless. A delicious read about the worst of the worst, for a change..., November 8, 2012
By 
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Reassessing the Presidency : The Rise of the Executive State and the Decline of Freedom (Hardcover)
This book was exactly what I'd been hoping and looking for. There are so many "greatest presidents" books out there. It was very refreshing and engrossing, to read a book of "worst of the worst presidents." Many I knew about already---like Wilson, FDR, Lincoln. But others were a real eye-opener, like Truman, Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, McKinley. Very well-written, intellectual, and well-reasoned. I have other books by many of these authors (DiLorenzo, Denson) and none of them disappointed here. And it is chock-full of very useful footnotes comments, which are interesting in themselves, and provide invaluable avenues for further follow-up and study.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A new way to think about the Presidency, January 14, 2012
This review is from: Reassessing the Presidency : The Rise of the Executive State and the Decline of Freedom (Hardcover)
Although the book has a lot of pages, I think it is relatively easy to read. I think Mr. Denson's evaluations of the Presidency have many positive attributes. He uses libertarian and federal constitutional concepts and, I think, tries to evaluate which Presidents left the country better off at the end of a term than at the beginning. His evaluations do not mimic the conventional mainstream lists, but I think his evaluations are valuable and in many ways superior.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb!, January 14, 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Reassessing the Presidency : The Rise of the Executive State and the Decline of Freedom (Hardcover)
An outstanding work, thought provoking, albeit sometimes disturbing work that should be required reading for any student of American hostory. How many of us really understand the differance between freedom and democracy, or between private enterprse and free enterprise? I expect that most people who affiliate themselves with either of the traditional two American political parties will have little good to say about this work and poo-poo its conclusions (it's called denial, folks). Nevertheless, if you love freedom, if you are proud of America and its Constitution, and if you have an open mind - read this book.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Essays, December 25, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This book is made up of several essays on various presidents. They are presented in chronological order. One of the best chapters is on grading the presidents and comparing the human measurements by historians against a couple of fixed standards. This analysis turns the human historian's measurements upside down. Another great essay is Levin and his critique of the modern presidents.

Like all such collections of writings some are better than others. A few of the essays are tedious and bog the reader down, but all are well done.

The overall analysis of this book turns popular perceptions around. War presidents and those who expand government do not rate high among these writers who value small government and restricted government power over an expansive government with dictatorial powers. As a practical matter these ideas of small government and liberty live on, but our government is so far gone down the road to limitless power it probably can't be turned back. Nonetheless, these writers give us plenty of good reasons why we should try.

AD2
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 2 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

Details

Reassessing the Presidency : The Rise of the Executive State and the Decline of Freedom
$35.00 $29.29
In Stock
Add to cart Add to wishlist
Search these reviews only
Send us feedback How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you? Let us know here.