- Publisher: University Press of Kansas; Reprint of the 1882 first edition. edition (May 18, 2003)
- ASIN: B0047PFYS2
- Average Customer Review: 7 customer reviews
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The Modern American Presidency Paperback – May 18, 2003
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This fresh critique of the strengths and weaknesses of our chief executives from Teddy Roosevelt to Bill Clinton pinpoints what these past presidents have contributed, both good and bad, to make the office of the presidency what it is today: staff-heavy, media-dependent, and perpetually campaigning.
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Each president is assessed, and except for the somewhat unique argument for McKinley, the analyses are not surprising. Gould, for the most part, agrees with other historians' assessments. Not enough time has lapsed since Clinton, and the chapter he gets is weak; Gould opted to focus on the scandals and controversies. Most interesting of all, perhaps, is Gould's conclusion that the modern presidency is ill-equipped to deal with the problems of this century.
Overall, a solid overview of the presidency.
Other reviewers of this book have pointed out that Gould's position on the evolution of the presidency is a paradox, since in order to be effective, the modern president must be a master of the perpetual campaign, and yet the perpetual campaign is what Gould believes is the bane of the presidency, transforming it into a position of celebrity and spectacle rather than one of leadership and policy. However, that is a paradox that needs to be examined more deeply in a philosophical context; this book is a survey, not a political science text, and Gould gets points for raising the paradox, which is a provocative one, in the first place.
The book is full of anecdotes and lucid detail about the modern presidents, along with Gould's snappy and precise evaluations of the strengths and weaknesses of each, and the factors in the broader political culture of each man's term in office that changed the presidency forever. He is not particularly partisan in his political stance; he has good and bad to say about each president. There are many surprises in this short but rewarding book, and there are excellent suggestions for further reading at the back.