Tuesday, August 28, 2012

What We're Reading: Where They Stand by Robert W. Merry.

In the opening pages of his new book, Where They Stand: The American Presidents in the Eyes of Voters and Historians, Robert W. Merry provides the perfect quote from Clinton Rossiter, that "ranking Presidents has always been the Favorite Indoor Sport of history-minded Americans." Merry admits that he too succumbs to the enjoyment of this game, but in this book his aim is to look critically at past ranking surveys of our Presidents with an eye towards understanding how some Presidents’ rankings have risen or fallen over the course of time. Merry also includes in his evaluations how the American public rendered judgment upon our 44 Presidents through elections [did the President receive election to a second term? Upon completion of his second term was his party able to elect a successor?]. The blend of historical and current [peer] judgments yields an interesting balance and a tempering of Presidential perceptions over the years. Ulysses Grant, in particular, takes on a nuanced evaluation.

A terrific preparation for November, Where They Stand emerges as the clear winning ticket in this season of Presidential politics, with its concise, incisive writing that is also fun and engaging to read. History and political junkies will want to seek out this book, and will enjoy every page [even if they disagree with Merry’s conclusions!].

Click here for a good MSN discussion with Robert W. Merry about Where They Stand.

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