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Every American president, when faced with a crisis, longs to take bold and decisive action. When American lives or vital interests are at stake, the public—and especially the news media and political opponents—expect aggressive leadership. But, contrary to the dramatizations of Hollywood, rarely does a president have that option. In Presidents in Crisis, a former director o Every American president, when faced with a crisis, longs to take bold and decisive action. When American lives or vital interests are at stake, the public—and especially the news media and political opponents—expect aggressive leadership. But, contrary to the dramatizations of Hollywood, rarely does a president have that option. In Presidents in Crisis, a former director of the Situation Room takes the reader inside the White House during seventeen grave international emergencies handled by the presidents from Truman to Obama: from North Korea’s invasion of South Korea to the revolutions of the Arab Spring, and from the thirteen days of the Cuban Missile Crisis to the taking of American diplomats hostage in Iran and George W. Bush’s response to the attacks of September 11, 2001. In narratives that convey the drama of unfolding events and the stakes of confrontation when a misstep can mean catastrophe, he walks us step by step through each crisis. Laying out the key players and personalities and the moral and political calculations that the leaders have had to make, he provides a fascinating insider’s look at modern presidential decision making and the fundamental role in it of human frailty. Skyhorse Publishing, as well as our Arcade imprint, are proud to publish a broad range of books for readers interested in history--books about World War II, the Third Reich, Hitler and his henchmen, the JFK assassination, conspiracies, the American Civil War, the American Revolution, gladiators, Vikings, ancient Rome, medieval times, the old West, and much more. While not every title we publish becomes a New York Times bestseller or a national bestseller, we are committed to books on subjects that are sometimes overlooked and to authors whose work might not otherwise find a home.


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Every American president, when faced with a crisis, longs to take bold and decisive action. When American lives or vital interests are at stake, the public—and especially the news media and political opponents—expect aggressive leadership. But, contrary to the dramatizations of Hollywood, rarely does a president have that option. In Presidents in Crisis, a former director o Every American president, when faced with a crisis, longs to take bold and decisive action. When American lives or vital interests are at stake, the public—and especially the news media and political opponents—expect aggressive leadership. But, contrary to the dramatizations of Hollywood, rarely does a president have that option. In Presidents in Crisis, a former director of the Situation Room takes the reader inside the White House during seventeen grave international emergencies handled by the presidents from Truman to Obama: from North Korea’s invasion of South Korea to the revolutions of the Arab Spring, and from the thirteen days of the Cuban Missile Crisis to the taking of American diplomats hostage in Iran and George W. Bush’s response to the attacks of September 11, 2001. In narratives that convey the drama of unfolding events and the stakes of confrontation when a misstep can mean catastrophe, he walks us step by step through each crisis. Laying out the key players and personalities and the moral and political calculations that the leaders have had to make, he provides a fascinating insider’s look at modern presidential decision making and the fundamental role in it of human frailty. Skyhorse Publishing, as well as our Arcade imprint, are proud to publish a broad range of books for readers interested in history--books about World War II, the Third Reich, Hitler and his henchmen, the JFK assassination, conspiracies, the American Civil War, the American Revolution, gladiators, Vikings, ancient Rome, medieval times, the old West, and much more. While not every title we publish becomes a New York Times bestseller or a national bestseller, we are committed to books on subjects that are sometimes overlooked and to authors whose work might not otherwise find a home.

30 review for Presidents in Crisis: Tough Decisions inside the White House from Truman to Obama

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jean

    The author was the director of the White House Situation Room under President Reagan. In this book he describes seventeen challenges faced by presidents. Bohn states “circumstances beyond their control more often than not constrained their actions, resulting in temporary fixes rather than long term successes”. Bohn shows how the modern presidents are caught up in rivalries between civilian and military or in what is called “groupthink” which prevents a thorough analysis of each crisis. Bohn provi The author was the director of the White House Situation Room under President Reagan. In this book he describes seventeen challenges faced by presidents. Bohn states “circumstances beyond their control more often than not constrained their actions, resulting in temporary fixes rather than long term successes”. Bohn shows how the modern presidents are caught up in rivalries between civilian and military or in what is called “groupthink” which prevents a thorough analysis of each crisis. Bohn provides a description of the crisis followed by a brief assessment of the consequences of the presidential action. I noticed an interesting theme began to reveal itself throughout the book: the importance of “muddling through” and the avoidance of a long term solution to the problem. Bohn discusses some events that I was most interested in such as the Cuban Missile Crisis with President Kennedy, the 1973 Yom Kipper War with Nixon and Kissinger, and the U2 spy plane with Eisenhower. Bohn provided more detail with the 1978-1981 Iranian Hostage Crisis with President Jimmy Carter. There were more events but I will not list them. The book is well written and meticulously researched. It is a good study on how to or not to handle a crisis. Bohn does provide background history to the events which helps put them into context. I noted the author had more problems staying the neutral reporter with the more current events than he did with the events with more historical perception to draw on. Overall, it is an interesting study of crisis and presidents’ management styles. Kevin Stillwell does a good job narrating the book. Stillwell is an actor and experienced audiobook narrator.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Hope Mueller

    A peek into the operations of crisis management by each president from Truman to Obama. Provided me with a deeper understanding of U.S. geopolitical power. Reading this material now, one cannot escape reflecting on what changes are/may be occurring because of the current U.S. administration. These types of books always provide guidance and information on leadership approaches, both successful and less successful. Incredible read, well written and fully engaging throughout.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Yaser

    Every president has his management style, but in crisis they tend to be bold.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Al Lock

    I didn't find this book really brought anything new to the table. In fact, I felt that it did a disservice to each of the Presidents it represented, and is more focused on pushing a particular viewpoint than really examining Presidents at moments of crisis. It is a bit ridiculous to use the Korean War or the Cuban Missile Crisis for Truman and JFK and then use the Arab Spring for Obama. They simply aren't comparable areas. I also felt that this book did a disservice by not assessing the various I didn't find this book really brought anything new to the table. In fact, I felt that it did a disservice to each of the Presidents it represented, and is more focused on pushing a particular viewpoint than really examining Presidents at moments of crisis. It is a bit ridiculous to use the Korean War or the Cuban Missile Crisis for Truman and JFK and then use the Arab Spring for Obama. They simply aren't comparable areas. I also felt that this book did a disservice by not assessing the various Presidents in terms of previous crisis - so to assess Clinton in regards to the bombings of US embassies without first assessing what had happened earlier in his administration (Somalia, Bosnia, etc.) is disingenuous. Not recommended.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Margarita

    2.5 out of 5 stars This book undertakes in just over 350 pages the ambitious task of analyzing 17 separate international emergencies and the crisis management effectiveness (from Truman to Obama) in each of these cases. It is a good introductory read to concepts such as "muddling through" and "group-think", and provides a general overview of each of these crises. The depth of analysis though left me wanting. 2.5 out of 5 stars This book undertakes in just over 350 pages the ambitious task of analyzing 17 separate international emergencies and the crisis management effectiveness (from Truman to Obama) in each of these cases. It is a good introductory read to concepts such as "muddling through" and "group-think", and provides a general overview of each of these crises. The depth of analysis though left me wanting.

  6. 4 out of 5

    JillT

    A really enjoyable and interesting read. Showing assessments of how presidents from Truman to Obama juggled foreign policy, national interests, political upper-hands, military intervention, and crisis management.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Lcottrel

    Truly eye opening. I really learned a lot by reading these excerpts of the Presidency. You really get to see what a mind bending and difficult job it is.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Tamer Sadek

    Nothing particularly ground breaking or deep. A decent read, nothing more/less.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Bill Clarkin

    I don't normally care for these books that are small dives into topics but the author did a very nice job. I would have liked some more positive solutions. I don't normally care for these books that are small dives into topics but the author did a very nice job. I would have liked some more positive solutions.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Scott Kendall

    This is one we should all read in these times of chaos. The book studies how correct and incorrect actions have been taken in times of crisis. Bottom line is that first compulsive reactions were normally wrong in hindsight. Makes you wonder how a similar complex crisis will be dealt with as it comes up now.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Olivia

    A peek inside the decision making process from Truman to Obama. I loved gaining insight about the politics behind the scenes of the decision making. It was interesting to learn about how to each president differs in their decision making process. Bohn added details and nauce to the past for clarity. Bohn's description of the events made me feel as if I was there. Overall, Bohn does a great job of analysising the past events. This book is a really well written and a quick read. A peek inside the decision making process from Truman to Obama. I loved gaining insight about the politics behind the scenes of the decision making. It was interesting to learn about how to each president differs in their decision making process. Bohn added details and nauce to the past for clarity. Bohn's description of the events made me feel as if I was there. Overall, Bohn does a great job of analysising the past events. This book is a really well written and a quick read.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jackson Coppley

    Michael Bohn takes the stories of the past and adds the nuance to set the record straight. In the Cuban Missile Crisis, he shows how timing and response changes legends such as “eyeball to eyeball and the other man blinked” and “answering the first letter rather than the second.” Time allows careful examination of events in the distant past as all the parties write their memoirs, and Bohn extracts from all of these sources to provide a solid historical picture. Events closer to our current time, Michael Bohn takes the stories of the past and adds the nuance to set the record straight. In the Cuban Missile Crisis, he shows how timing and response changes legends such as “eyeball to eyeball and the other man blinked” and “answering the first letter rather than the second.” Time allows careful examination of events in the distant past as all the parties write their memoirs, and Bohn extracts from all of these sources to provide a solid historical picture. Events closer to our current time, such as those within the Obama administration, do not provide the resources that history will eventually provide, but Bohn does an excellent job of analysis even in those events. Most of all, it's a good read. I enjoyed Bohn taking me through each historical crisis and putting me there as it happens.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Steven

    Not truly objective It was interesting to revisit events I recall from following world events and politics over the last 50 plus years, but, to my mind, the author reveals more than a bit of a bias when reviewing Carter's pitiful, feckless dithering during the Iran hostage crisis, finding one excuse after another; and in his discussion of Obama's red line in Syria. Not truly objective It was interesting to revisit events I recall from following world events and politics over the last 50 plus years, but, to my mind, the author reveals more than a bit of a bias when reviewing Carter's pitiful, feckless dithering during the Iran hostage crisis, finding one excuse after another; and in his discussion of Obama's red line in Syria.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Ann Garback

    It's always more complicated The farther away from today the executive action was taken, the better we can judge the consequences. But the closer, the better we can understand the man & the political milieu. Bohn did an excellent job of selecting 17 crises that had profound implications for where we are today. It's always more complicated The farther away from today the executive action was taken, the better we can judge the consequences. But the closer, the better we can understand the man & the political milieu. Bohn did an excellent job of selecting 17 crises that had profound implications for where we are today.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Linda

    Book-bub ebook: Followed specific crisis for each to the President's from Truman to Obama looking at it from the inside. Learned (or relearned) history from a different perspective. Makes one think about the qualities we might want in a President! Book-bub ebook: Followed specific crisis for each to the President's from Truman to Obama looking at it from the inside. Learned (or relearned) history from a different perspective. Makes one think about the qualities we might want in a President!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Luis Delgado

    Presidente in Crisis: Tough Decisions inside Excelente libro que de manera inédita nos muestra los detalles de como los presidentes manejaron los diferentes eventos que fueron ajenos a políticos, periodistas y publicó en general.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Gerry Connolly

    Presidents in Crisis is Michael Bohn's study of 12 presidents and 17 foreign policy crises from Korea to Syria. Incremental steps that are reversible seem the recipe for success, more or less. Presidents in Crisis is Michael Bohn's study of 12 presidents and 17 foreign policy crises from Korea to Syria. Incremental steps that are reversible seem the recipe for success, more or less.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Matt Swisher

    A good study This book is a good study on how to (and how not to) handle crises. It's easy to sit on the sidelines and criticize, but sometimes there are no easy, or good, options. A good study This book is a good study on how to (and how not to) handle crises. It's easy to sit on the sidelines and criticize, but sometimes there are no easy, or good, options.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Gene

    Interesting stories and thought provoking analysis. a must read for DC wonks and history buffs.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Den

    Was rather interesting, but sometimes so in-depth you needed to scroll back to clarify some points.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Ray

    I enjoyed reading about the background of historical events since Truman was President. It reminded me there is so much we (the public) are not aware of when these major decisions occur.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Bex

  23. 5 out of 5

    Hillmann Achuo Egbe

  24. 4 out of 5

    Ebba King

  25. 5 out of 5

    Michael Kauphusman

  26. 4 out of 5

    Dave

  27. 5 out of 5

    Bill De Jianne

  28. 5 out of 5

    John Redenbo

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jason Reyes

  30. 5 out of 5

    Frederick Gautschi

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