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Why Coolidge Matters: Leadership Lessons from Americas Most Underrated President Hardcover – March 12, 2013
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U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX)
"This is a very energetic and engaging amplification of the strong points of Coolidge’s presidency and administrative techniques. It is a welcome addition to the growing literature on whether Coolidge was, as Charles Johnson claims, an underrated and commendable leader, and not, as majority historical opinion has long held, a simplistic and dangerously detached president. It is a lively and imaginative case presented by a very promising young historian and commentator."
Conrad Black, author of Franklin Delano Roosevelt: Champion of Freedom, Richard M. Nixon: A Life in Full, and the recently published A Matter of Principle.
It turns out that our Cal wasn’t as silent as we thought. Coolidge’s life speaks volumes about the sad state of contemporary politics, and may offer a map for the way out. Charles Johnson’s smart and entertaining book about our witty, wise, and humane 30th president is a must-read for anyone who cares about the history of the presidency, or its future.
Tucker Carlson, co-founder and editor-in-chief of the Daily Caller
In a time when we suffer from the follies of a celebrity president, Charles Johnson’s short sparkling account of Calvin Coolidge, the citizen president who valued experience over theory and individual accountability rather than social salvation, is a welcome occasion.
Fred Siegel, scholar in residence at St. Francis College and a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute
To preserve our freedom, we must recover both our principles and our past. Calvin Coolidge is a figure from the past who possessed profound knowledge of our principles and the eloquence to explain them. Charles Johnsonprecocious, energetic, and knowledgeable himselfbrings real ability to the work of recovering Coolidge, and so he helps us to better know our country and ourselves.
Larry P. Arnn, president of Hillsdale College and author of The Founders’ Key
"Johnson's book is essential reading for those interested in presidential leadership. He shines the spotlight on one of America's most successful, yet unappreciated, chief executives. Knowing full well the proper use of executive power, Silent Cal had a steady hand on the ship of state. Johnson makes the case that Coolidge should enter the pantheon of America's great Presidents."
John Yoo, law professor at the University of California, Berkeley, and visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.
"Charles Johnson's Why Coolidge Matters is a timely, riveting profile of one of America's most unsung presidents. We all have much to learn from Calvin Coolidge's adherence to thrift; devotion to his Christian faith; emphasis on character and civic virtue; and demonstrated commitment to public service and first principles. Myths on both the Left and Right abound about "Silent Cal." Johnson's vibrant scholarship clears the air and sheds new light on a commander-in-chief who modeled long-forgotten, but desperately needed, leadership traits of restraint, discipline, and prudence. As the conservative movement ponders its future, Why Coolidge Matters provides a compelling reason to look to its forgotten past for inspiration."
Michelle Malkin, author, blogger, and syndicated columnist
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Top Customer Reviews
None of these well-known fragments, or figments, of the Jazz Age suggest leadership lessons. But Charles Johnson's book has such lessons, as its title promises, because the real Coolidge did.
Other presidents in the surrounding decades enacted more laws, grew government, were louder or more colorful. This contrast made Coolidge a victim of, in Lincoln's words, "the silent artillery of time." Worse, historians have often belittled him. But the negligent and hostile caricatures, quoted occasionally by Johnson, are wrong. So is the oft-assumed irrelevance of the 1920s. This clearly written account of Coolidge's career demonstrates both points.
Although compact for a presidential book at 265 also-modest pages of text, "Why Coolidge Matters" has 57 pages of footnotes. Johnson, a gutsy and energetic young journalist who studied under talented professors of American government at Claremont McKenna College, wastes no words here. Coupled with his extensive research, that means a highly readable, yet fleshed-out and thoughtful survey of a public life more substantive than most people imagine.
The embarrassing "business" quote, by the way, isn't even true. Coolidge's real comment was: "The chief business of the American people is business," a factual statement. In the same 1925 speech, he went on to stress Americans' great "idealism," a frequent point with him.
Johnson gives us Coolidge the small-r republican: a philosopher not just of limited government but of self-government, a figure more complex and morally compelling than Coolidge, agent of 1920s prosperity. He conveys his subject's stances for small government, low taxes, the non-evolving Constitution.Read more ›
Using great use of many original and secondary sources, Johnson's book presents Coolidge in his own voice, while offering considered judgment about his continuing relevance to our politics today. This book is essential reading for any enthusiast of Coolidge, American republicanism, and liberty.
This is a very different book from Amity Shlaes' recent biography. It's more of a survey of Coolidge's political philosophy than a comprehensive detailing of his life. Both are excellent books, but this one is going to be the most useful in our current struggle against big government. In fact, I put it up there with Jonah Goldberg's Liberal Fascism and Daniel J. Flynn's A Conservative History of the American Left as a resource. Whereas the former equip conservative with an understanding of the progressive forces attempting to fundamentally change American institutions, Johnson's book familiarizes us with how our own ideology has worked when tried. The subtitle of the book is Leadership Lessons from America's Most Underrated President, and it's those lessons that can teach us how to apply our conservatism today.
The first leadership lesson is "Sacrifice of the Fittest". Contrary to the view of Coolidge and the conservatives of his day, that they were Social Darwinists, Coolidge believed that the law of the jungle was antithetical to civilization. Citing Christ's sacrifice, mother love and the "women and children first" ethos, Coolidge made a life-long argument for sacrifice.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I bought this book sometime ago; however, I just started it and am on page 25 and am already in love with Calvin Coolidge. A man coming in and cleaning up Warren G. Read morePublished 1 month ago by alex
Good read on a forgotten President! Refreshing view of limited government.Published 6 months ago by Amazon Customer
Easy to read, informative, entertaining and I think it's a great recap of a President that doesn't get a lot of historical attention. Read morePublished 8 months ago by estring
Great subject but too long and it seems like author is more interested in displaying his research than just relaying the facts.Published 10 months ago by John W. Mc Mackin
If you want a true understanding of who Calvin Coolidge was and what he believed this is a great place to start. His autobiography is a good second step. Read morePublished 14 months ago by Joe B.
The best president after George Washington. He was silent and allowed the people to help themselves and each other, removing big government intrusion.Published 16 months ago by Panther Page