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Reassessing the Presidency : The Rise of the Executive State and the Decline of Freedom Hardcover – June, 2001
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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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
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.
Even more interesting are the new dimensions of Washington, Madison, and Jefferson that are revealed in the essays of Gordon and Trask.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Lots of interesting information, some of the essays get a bit overkill and boring. However, the book is still very interesting & worth reading.Published 23 months ago by Matt Parish
This book is made up of several essays on various presidents. They are presented in chronological order. Read morePublished on December 25, 2013 by Alan Dale Daniel
Since 1913 we have increasingly entered a post constitutional order even though presidents still claim to be obedient to and swear oaths to the Constitution. Read morePublished on October 29, 2013 by Lee Robinson
This book was exactly what I'd been hoping and looking for. There are so many "greatest presidents" books out there. Read morePublished on November 8, 2012 by Sui Juris
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. Read morePublished on January 14, 2012 by Mike in Omaha
I bought this volume on the recommendation of a good friend. If you're looking for another history written by the victor, keep looking. Read morePublished on March 17, 2009 by Al Swanson
(excerpted from The Independent Review, Spring 2003)
Herbert Spencer, the great nineteenth-century libertarian, said of the relation between history and theory: �Until you... Read more
An outstanding work, thought provoking, albeit sometimes disturbing work that should be required reading for any student of American hostory. Read morePublished on January 14, 2002