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The Presidential Difference: Leadership Style from FDR to Barack Obama - Third Edition

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Fred I. Greenstein has long been one of our keenest observers of the modern presidency. In The Presidential Difference, he provides a fascinating and instructive account of the presidential qualities that have served well and poorly in the Oval Office, beginning with Franklin D. Roosevelt's first hundred days. He surveys each president's political skill, vision, cognitive Fred I. Greenstein has long been one of our keenest observers of the modern presidency. In The Presidential Difference, he provides a fascinating and instructive account of the presidential qualities that have served well and poorly in the Oval Office, beginning with Franklin D. Roosevelt's first hundred days. He surveys each president's political skill, vision, cognitive style, organizational capacity, ability to communicate, and emotional intelligence--and argues that the last is the most important in predicting presidential success. Throughout, Greenstein offers a series of bottom-line judgments on each of his thirteen subjects as well as an overarching theory of why presidents succeed or fail. In this new edition, Greenstein assesses President George W. Bush in the wake of his two terms. The book also includes a new chapter on the leadership style of President Obama and how we can expect it to affect his presidency and legacy.


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Fred I. Greenstein has long been one of our keenest observers of the modern presidency. In The Presidential Difference, he provides a fascinating and instructive account of the presidential qualities that have served well and poorly in the Oval Office, beginning with Franklin D. Roosevelt's first hundred days. He surveys each president's political skill, vision, cognitive Fred I. Greenstein has long been one of our keenest observers of the modern presidency. In The Presidential Difference, he provides a fascinating and instructive account of the presidential qualities that have served well and poorly in the Oval Office, beginning with Franklin D. Roosevelt's first hundred days. He surveys each president's political skill, vision, cognitive style, organizational capacity, ability to communicate, and emotional intelligence--and argues that the last is the most important in predicting presidential success. Throughout, Greenstein offers a series of bottom-line judgments on each of his thirteen subjects as well as an overarching theory of why presidents succeed or fail. In this new edition, Greenstein assesses President George W. Bush in the wake of his two terms. The book also includes a new chapter on the leadership style of President Obama and how we can expect it to affect his presidency and legacy.

30 review for The Presidential Difference: Leadership Style from FDR to Barack Obama - Third Edition

  1. 4 out of 5

    Diana

    Read for Political Science Class Review to come

  2. 4 out of 5

    Brett

    It is a great struggle to find a way to evaluate presidencies that is not colored entirely by our own political inclinations. As a lefty, I tend to see liberal presidents with liberal achievements as the good presidents and conservative presidents as the bad ones; however, Greenstein is trying to develop a framework of judging presidencies based on factors that are not connected to ideology. The framework he develops makes a good deal of sense. It measures six dimensions of presidential leadershi It is a great struggle to find a way to evaluate presidencies that is not colored entirely by our own political inclinations. As a lefty, I tend to see liberal presidents with liberal achievements as the good presidents and conservative presidents as the bad ones; however, Greenstein is trying to develop a framework of judging presidencies based on factors that are not connected to ideology. The framework he develops makes a good deal of sense. It measures six dimensions of presidential leadership, including vision, cognitive ability, emotional intelligence, and political skill. It's the execution that bothers me more than the device. The chapters are too short to really dig into why any particular president is considered to be successful or not, and the application of each category feels arbitrary. In addition, by seeing a presidency only through these six lenses, most of the responsibility for the presidency falls only on the shoulders of the individual president, rather than acknowledging the importance of external events and the zeitgeist of the times that can be important factors. Greenstein's framework can be a valuable tool, but I think it is up someone else to take the ideas he has developed and further improve them. The project of finding objective ways to judge presidencies is a very difficult problem to solve, and this book is a step toward that goal, but we still have some ways to go.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Wendy Stanley

    I enjoyed this book. I liked that it wasn't weighed down with quotes and academia. Greenstein made it approachable to a broad audience by writing it with broad strokes.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Casey Wellock

    Do you remember Marvel trading cards? They'd have categories for will power, endurance, intelligence etc. and then give a ranking from one to ten. That's what this book does only with presidents. You'll be surprised to learn Lyndon Johnson had an above average memory.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Dan

    Fred Greenstein is one of those historians who made it to the top of the profession: he evaluated an interesting topic in a new way that became the "new conventional wisdom." (He's a political scientist by trade, but I won't hold that against him.) Greenstein's The Hidden Hand Presidency rescued Dwight D. Eisenhower from obscurity and gave him credit for his style of administration and effectiveness. (Eisenhower was largely seen as "absentee" prior to a closer examination of the records.) This bo Fred Greenstein is one of those historians who made it to the top of the profession: he evaluated an interesting topic in a new way that became the "new conventional wisdom." (He's a political scientist by trade, but I won't hold that against him.) Greenstein's The Hidden Hand Presidency rescued Dwight D. Eisenhower from obscurity and gave him credit for his style of administration and effectiveness. (Eisenhower was largely seen as "absentee" prior to a closer examination of the records.) This book is about 10 years old now, and Greenstein has put out an updated edition (or two) with information on George W. Bush. It was definitely an interesting read, and a short one, too; I tore through it in a couple of days. Greenstein avoids the ends that the various presidents sought, focusing on means. He uses various anecdotes to analyze the aptitudes of the presidents in six dimensions: - Public Communication - Organizational Capacity - Vision - Political Skill - Cognitive Style - Emotional Intelligence Every president from FDR to Clinton has strengths and weaknesses. Truman was very good on the organizational side, but lacked vision. JFK was a brilliant communicator but did not organize his White House effectively. Carter neglected the political elements of the job. LBJ, Nixon, and Clinton all had clear emotional intelligence problems (which Greenstein seems to think is the most critical). The book also furthered my appreciation for good old Gerald Ford, who I have maligned in the past, but who looks better and better every time I reevaluate him/read more about him. This is a worthwhile read if you're interested in how presidents manage the institutional side of the presidency, rather than the institutional side itself. I enjoyed it.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Kristofer Petersen-Overton

    A lousy book. Reads like it was written without any significant research beyond the authors basic historical knowledge of the issues in question. It was probably written in a matter of days, considering the amateurish assessments of each President at the closing of each chapter. This was on the reading list for the American Politics comprehensive exam for the doctoral program in political science at the CUNY Graduate Center. Why? It's not really an academic text - and it doesn't even succeed at A lousy book. Reads like it was written without any significant research beyond the authors basic historical knowledge of the issues in question. It was probably written in a matter of days, considering the amateurish assessments of each President at the closing of each chapter. This was on the reading list for the American Politics comprehensive exam for the doctoral program in political science at the CUNY Graduate Center. Why? It's not really an academic text - and it doesn't even succeed at being pop history.

  7. 4 out of 5

    B. P. Rinehart

    This book was read for my class on the US presidency. Unlike that book, I felt this one did not really analyze what counts in a president and dealt more with a very untenable ideal that most humans, as well as presidents, cannot completely measure up to. This book only works if you buy the argument that a certain psychological, instead of political, ideal is what makes a good president. I don't buy it.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Robquarles

    Great and easy read! I particularly liked the methodical approach of evaluating each of these presidents in this time period. Interesting and not often observed guages by which the author evaluates these men include 'emotional intelligence.' The author catalogs key, and turning points of each of these president's with great sidebar details. I did not know that FDR loved to create rivalries within his own administration as a managing device.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Mike Emett

    Read for my Executive Branch class. The edition we had included the author's analysis and ratings for Obama a month after his Inaugural in 2008-which was both pointless and DUMB! He have Obama a friggen perfect score and he had not been president for month! The author was also hypocritical in a few areas for a few presidents. Overall in was interesting.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Joe Fraser

    I had to read this for a foreign policy leadership class with Professor Nye. I would recommend this to anyone interested in a brief, yet comprehensive overview of Presidents and their leadership styles post-WWII.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Eric A.

    Very readable look at the characteristics that made up our Presidents from FDR through Clinton.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan

    None

  13. 5 out of 5

    Kajsa Philippa

    Good first introduction to American policy during the different presidencies. Very interestingly written, not at all dull, but maybe sometimes a bit too polemic.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Kirk Bower

    Looks at FDR to Clinton. Greenstein nice a nice job of looking at the presidents' strong and weak qualities and how they delt with each to form their personal styles.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Candace

    If you love politics, you will love this book!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Steven Hummer

    A simple read chapter sizes are reasonable.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Neil

    Still tends to see the heroic individual leader, above shared leadership. Good to have some simple categorisation of the required skills to be a political leader.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Hannah

    Nice, concise summation of 60 years of Presidential history.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    A compelling inside look into the minds of America's most famous men.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Shelley

    if you want my review i'll email it to you.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Callan

    This book will help you be a more informed citizen, and make better choices in presidential races. It is excellent. Read it.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jason Smith

  23. 4 out of 5

    Tom Nelmes

  24. 4 out of 5

    Hosea

  25. 4 out of 5

    julie jones

  26. 5 out of 5

    Eddie Glenn

  27. 5 out of 5

    Tammy McNiel

  28. 5 out of 5

    Carrie C

  29. 5 out of 5

    Josh Peters

  30. 4 out of 5

    Matthew Laing

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