Tag Archives: President

7 Reads For President’s Day

Today marks George Washington’s 285th birthday and the celebration of President’s Day. In observation of the holiday, we’re sharing some of our favorite books about the presidency.


9780813122694Washington on Washington

For most Americans, George Washington is more of a legend than a man—a face on our currency or an austere figure standing in a rowboat crossing the icy Delaware River. He was equally revered in his own time. At the helm of a country born of idealism and revolution, Washington reluctantly played the role of demigod that the new nation required—a role reconciling the rhetoric of democracy with the ritual of monarchy.

Washington on Washington offers a fresh and human perspective on this enigmatic figure in American history. Drawing on diary entries, journals, letters, and authentic interviews, Paul M. Zall presents the autobiography that Washington never lived to write, revealing new insights into his character, both personal and political.

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Jefferson on Jefferson9780813122359

A new and more complex portrait of Thomas Jefferson, as told by Jefferson himself. Not trusting biographers with his story and frustrated by his friends’ failure to justify his role in the American Revolution, Thomas Jefferson wrote his autobiography on his own terms at the age of seventy-seven. The resulting book ends, well before his death, with his return from France at the age of forty-six. Asked for additional details concerning his life, Jefferson often claimed to have a “decayed memory.” Fortunately, this shrewd politician, philosopher, architect, inventor, farmer, and scientist penned nearly eighteen thousand letters in his lifetime, saving almost every scrap he wrote.

In Jefferson on Jefferson, Paul Zall returns to original manuscripts and correspondence for a new view of the statesman’s life. He extends the story where Jefferson left off, weaving excerpts from other writings—notes, rough drafts, and private correspondence—with passages from the original autobiography. Jefferson reveals his grief over the death of his daughter, details his hotly contested election against John Adams (decided by the House of Representatives), expresses his thoughts on religion, and tells of life at Monticello.

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9780813109411Truman and the Democratic Party

What best defines a Democrat in the American political arena—idealistic reformer or pragmatic politician? Harry Truman adopted both roles and in so doing defined the nature of his presidency.

Truman and the Democratic Party is the first book to deal exclusively with the president’s relationship with the Democratic party and his status as party leader. Sean J. Savage addresses Truman’s twin roles of party regular and liberal reformer, examining the tension that arose from this duality and the consequences of that tension for Truman’s political career.

Drawing on personal interview with former Truman administration members and party officials and on archival materials—most notably papers of the Democratic National Committee at the Harry S. Truman Library—Savage has produced a fresh perspective that is both shrewd and insightful. This book offers historians and political scientists a new way of looking at the Truman administration and its impact on key public policies.

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The Enduring Reagan9780813134475

A former Sunday school teacher and Hollywood actor, Ronald Reagan was an unlikely candidate for president. His charisma, conviction, and leadership earned him the governorship of California, from which he launched his successful bid to become the fortieth president of the United States in 1980. Reagan’s political legacy continues to be the standard by which all conservatives are judged. In The Enduring Reagan, editor Charles W. Dunn brings together eight prominent scholars to examine the political career and legacy of Ronald Reagan. This anthology offers a bold reassessment of the Reagan years and the impact they had on the United States and the world.

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9780813134024The Presidency in the Twenty-first Century

As the most prominent figure of the U.S. government, the president is under constant scrutiny from both his colleagues and the American people. Questions about the proper role of the president have been especially prevalent in the media during the current economic crisis. The Presidency in the Twenty-first Century explores the growth of presidential power, investigating its social, political, and economic impact on America’s present and future.

Editor Charles W. Dunn and a team of the nation’s leading political scientists examine a variety of topics, from the link between campaigning and governing to trends in presidential communication with the public. The book discusses the role of the presidency in a government designed to require cooperation with Congress and how this relationship is further complicated by the expectations of the public. Several contributors take a closer look at the Obama administration in light of President George W. Bush’s emphasis on the unitary executive, a governing style that continues to be highly controversial. Dunn and his contributors provide readers with a thorough analysis of a rapidly changing political role, provoking important questions about the future of America’s political system.

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The Presidential Pulse of Congressional Elections9780813109268

An intriguing phenomenon in American electoral politics is the loss of seats by the president’s party in midterm congressional elections. Between 1862 and 1990, the president’s party lost seats in the House of Representatives in 32 of the 33 midterm elections. In his new study, James Campbell examines explanations for these midterm losses and explores how presidential elections influence congressional elections.

After reviewing the two major theories of midterm electoral change-the “surge and decline” theory and the theory of midterms as referenda on presidential performance Campbell draws upon each to propose and test a new theory. He asserts that in the years of presidential elections congressmen ride presidential coattails into office, while in midterm elections such candidates are stranded. An additional factor is the strength of the presidential vote, which influences the number of seats that are won, only to be lost later.

Including both election returns and survey data, The Presidential Pulse of Congressional Elections offers a fresh perspective on congressional elections, voting behavior, Congress, and the presidency.

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9780813126609The Art of Command: Military Leadership from George Washington to Colin Powell

What essential leadership lessons do we learn by distilling the actions and ideas of great military commanders such as George Washington, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and Colin Powell? The Art of Command illustrates that great leaders become great through a commitment not only to develop vital skills but also to surmount personal shortcomings. Harry S. Laver, Jeffrey J. Matthews, and the other contributing authors identify nine core characteristics of highly effective leadership, such as integrity, determination, vision, and charisma, and nine significant figures in American military history whose careers embody those qualities. The Art of Command examines each figure’s strengths and weaknesses and how those attributes affected their leadership abilities, offering a unique perspective of military leadership in American history.

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To explore more titles about the American Presidency, visit our website.

Robert G. Kaufman responds to President Obama’s Foreign Policy Declarations in The Atlantic

In a recent cover story for The Atlantic, President Obama sought to define and clarify the foreign policy of his two terms in office. ‘The Obama Doctrine,’ as the article referred to it, is, in Robert G. Kaufman’s opinion, has damaged the US’s reputation abroad by  imprudently abandoning the muscular internationalism that has marked US foreign policy since the end of World War II. In a recent op-ed for The Daily Caller, Kaufman illuminates both the failings of the president’s “grand strategy,” and responds to the president’s own opinions in The Atlantic.

Click here to read the full editorial in The Daily Caller.

Judging from his recent lengthy interview with Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic, President Obama has learned nothing in the past seven years from the serious, serial failures of his foreign policy. Instead, Obama radiated a preternatural, delusional, and typical self-confidence expounding on the efficacy of his Obama Doctrine, which he has followed faithfully since 2009.

The Obama Doctrine combines the worst features of the  morally obtuse anti-war left, unrealistic realism, and naïve multilateralism. The president views the so-called arrogance of American power as a greater danger than the threats emanating from devils and dictatorships abroad. Likewise, Obama rejects American exceptionalism while routinely apologizing for American sins abroad, which he has exaggerated and often imagined. Like unrealistic realists, Obama  ignores the importance of ideology and regime type in identifying friends, foes, threats and opportunities. This fallacious premise explains why he eagerly engages virulently anti-American adversaries such as Putin in Russia, the militant mullahs of Tehran, the repressive, aggressive leadership in China bent on achieving hegemony rather than stability in the world’s most important geopolitical region, and Castro’s totalitarian tyranny in Cuba.

This accounts for the President’s unwillingness to admit that the danger of Islamism, choosing to conciliate rather than confront it. Obama’s persistent unwillingness to distinguish democratic friends from rogue regimes that are foes accounts for his default inclination initially to deem the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt a legitimate partner for peace rather than a mortal enemy of Israel implacably hostile to America’s legitimate interests.

The fallacy of moral equivalence between freedom and tyranny accounts for the president striving assiduously to put distance between the United States and decent democratic allies such as Israel, Poland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary. Also, his ill-advised decision to return the bust of Winston Churchill to Great Britain while denying the existence of an Anglo-American special relationship. Finally, Obama’s congenital obtuseness to democracy’s virtues and dictatorship’s vices accounts for his derelict  disinterest in nurturing the strategic partnership that President George W. Bush initiated presciently with a decent, democratic India sharing U.S. interests in defeating radical Islam and ensuring China faces a robust deterrent to its imperial ambitions.

. . .

Read more:  http://dailycaller.com/2016/03/14/obamas-dangerous-doctrine/#ixzz497Nht5PV

About the Book:

Dangerous Doctrine Robert G. Kaufman

“Robert Kaufman brilliantly establishes what a devastating failure his amateurish grab-bag of progressive policies have been in the three key regions of Russia-Europe, the Middle East, and East Asia.”—Daniel Pipes, President, Middle East Forum

Much like Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, President Barack Obama came to office as a politician who emphasized conviction rather than consensus. During his 2008 presidential campaign, he pledged to transform the role of the United States abroad. His ambitious foreign policy goals included a global climate treaty, the peaceful withdrawal of American military forces from Iraq and Afghanistan, and a new relationship with Iran. Throughout Obama’s tenure, pundits and scholars have offered competing interpretations of his “grand strategy,” while others have maintained that his policies were incoherent or, at best, ad hoc.

In Dangerous Doctrine, political scientist Robert G. Kaufman argues that the forty-fourth president has indeed articulated a clear, consistent national security policy and has pursued it with remarkable fidelity. Yet Kaufman contends that President Obama has imprudently abandoned the muscular internationalism that has marked US foreign policy since the end of World War II. Drawing on international relations theory and American diplomatic history, Kaufman presents a robust critique of the Obama doctrine as he situates the president’s use of power within the traditions of American strategic practice.

Focusing on the pivotal regions of Europe, the Middle East, and Asia, this provocative study demonstrates how current executive branch leadership threatens America’s role as a superpower, weakening its ability to spread democracy and counter threats to geopolitical order in increasingly unstable times. Kaufman proposes a return to the grand strategy of moral democratic realism, as practiced by presidents such as Harry S. Truman, Ronald Reagan, and George W. Bush, with the hope of reestablishing the United States as the world’s dominant power.

Robert G. Kaufman is professor of public policy at Pepperdine University. He is the author of Henry M. Jackson: A Life in Politics and In Defense of the Bush Doctrine.

Stop One: Lincoln’s Boyhood Home

Welcome back to Journey Through the Bluegrass, folks! We are super excited to get started on this virtual road trip. Our first stop begins with a specific moment in the history of our great nation. As many of you history buffs probably know, today is the 153th anniversary of the date the emancipation proclamation was enacted by our great former president, Abraham Lincoln. In honor of this monumental feat towards the equality of mankind, we decided to pay some homage to the man responsible.

One of the most well-known facts about Kentucky is that this is where Lincoln grew up. I think we’ve all heard the term “Lincoln’s Boyhood Home” a couple hundred times too many, but how many of you can actually say that you’ve visited it? There are actually two locations that can still be seen today. This first is Lincoln’s first home, a log cabin on a farm in Hardin County, Kentucky, in which the great president was born to Thomas and Nancy Lincoln on February 12, 1809. This home is still a standing structure, although may have looked closer to this image back in its prime:

To visit the birthplace unit, you can travel to this location: 2995 Lincoln Farm Road, Hodgenville, Kentucky 42748.

A couple years later, at the ripe age of two and a half, this 16th president of the United States of America was uprooted from one log cabin to the next which was located on a farm on Knob Creek. While this location is also a memorial that you can physically travel to, we would advise that you wait until the latter part of this year since the site is currently under heavy construction. Should you find that you wish to travel there, the address is 7120 Bardstown Road, Hodgenville, Kentucky 42748.

For directions to either site based upon starting locations of various large cities, please visit this website.

Additionally, if the travel bug has bitten you already, you can explore the Mary Todd Lincoln house, the family home of the Abraham Lincoln’s First Lady, which can be found in Lexington, KY. The property was the Todd family residence from 1832 to 1849. Mary Todd resided here from the ages of 13 to 21, before moving to Springfield, Illinois, to live with a sister in 1839. There she met Abraham Lincoln and they were married in November 1842. To visit this historic home, the address at which it is located is 578 West Main Street, Lexington, KY.

The Mary Todd Lincoln house as it stands today in Lexington, KY.

Have we piqued your interest in Lincoln yet? You may want to spend more time getting this know one of the greatest presidents in history. If this is the case, you should check out our recently published book about this historic president’s last moments. In Lincoln’s Final Hours, author Kathryn Canavan takes a magnifying glass to the last moments of the president’s life and to the impact his assassination had on a country still reeling from a bloody civil war. With vivid, thoroughly researched prose and a reporter’s eye for detail, this fast-paced account not only furnishes a glimpse into John Wilkes Booth’s personal and political motivations but also illuminates the stories of ordinary people whose lives were changed forever by the assassination.

For more information on this title, click here or on the picture below.

Happy Law Day!

May 1, previously known as May Day or International Worker’s Day, was declared Law Day in 1958 by President Eisenhower to honor the role of the law in the creation of the United States.

Law Day was created from the desire to suppress the celebration of May Day as it left a bad taste in many American’s mouths because of its association with communism.

In proclaiming the first Law Day Eisenhower stated, “In a very real sense, the world no longer has a choice between force and law. If civilization is to survive, it must choose the rule of law. On this Law Day, then, we honor not only the principle of the rule of law, but also those judges, legislators, lawyers and law-abiding citizens who actively work to preserve our liberties under law.”

Books you may enjoy:

Reflections on Constitutional Law

Anastaplo emphasizes the continuing significance and importance of the Constitution by examining the most important influences on the American constitutional system, including the Magna Carta and the Declaration of Independence. According to Anastaplo, a rigorous understanding of the Constitution is crucial to comprehending the true meaning of Supreme Court decisions.

“A well-reasoned commentary that is devoid of partisan and ideological bias and complemented by a mastery of philosophy, law, and history.” — Joseph R. Fornieri, author of Abraham Lincoln’s Political Faith

Congressional Ambivalence: The Political Burdens of Constitutional Authority

When confronted with controversial policy issues, members of Congress struggle to satisfy conflicting legislative, representative, and oversight duties. These competing goals, along with the pressure to satisfy local constituents, cause members of Congress to routinely cede power on a variety of policies, express regret over their loss of control, and later return to the habit of delegating their power. Congressional Ambivalence examines Congress’s frequent delegation of power by analyzing primary source materials such as bills, committee reports, and the Congressional Record. Farrier demonstrates that Congress is caught between abdication and ambition and that this ambivalence affects numerous facets of the legislative process.

 “Jasmine Farrier builds on her earlier work to thoughtfully explore this fundamental issue: why do members of Congress seem uninterested or unable to protect their legislative powers? The result is not merely a weak Congress. In failing to defend their institutional interests, lawmakers undermine the system of checks and balances that helps safeguard individual rights and liberties and makes self-government possible.”–Louis Fisher, author of Presidential War Power

Washington on Washington

Plagued by doubts about his education and abilities, Washington developed self-discipline that to others seemed superhuman. Washington on Washington offers a fresh and human perspective on this enigmatic figure in American history. Drawing on diary entries, journals, letters, and authentic interviews, Paul M. Zall presents the autobiography that Washington never lived to write, revealing new insights into his character, both personal and political.

From Washington’s voluminous writings, Zall has painstakingly compiled much more than a biography in Washington’s own words, he has given us the autobiography that our preeminent Founding Father himself never wrote. — Stuart Leibiger, author of Founding Friendship

Anti-Apartheid Activist and former South African Political Prisoner visits Kentucky

On Wednesday, April 13th, at an academic convocation at the Singletary Center for the Arts at the University of Kentucky Ahmed Kathrada, a former Special Advisor to South African President Nelson Mandela and a 26 year political prisoner tried at the infamous Rivonai Trial, received the Honorary Doctorate of Letters from university president Lee Todd and provost Kumble Subaswamy. His honorary doctorate recognizes the bond of friendship between Kentucky and South Africa, and reminds us of that connection though we are of Different Lands, yet share Common Ground.

Earlier that day, Mr. Kathrada was present to premiere the traveling exhibit Ahmed ‘Kathy’ Kathrada: A South African Activist for Non-Racialism and Democracy at Lafferty Hall. The exhibit makes its U.S. debut at the University of Kentucky and displays photographs, writings, and a replica of his prison cell on Robben Island where he was held as a political prisoner. View the full program here.

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Available now from the University Press of Kentucky:

When Ahmed Kathrada was released from prison in 1989 together with Walter Sisulu and Raymond Mhlaba after serving twenty-six years of a life sentence, more than 5,000 people came to Soweto to give him and his colleagues a hero’s welcome. A veteran of the anti-apartheid movement who was imprisoned with Nelson Mandela and other African leaders, Kathrada had been one of the famous Rivonia trial defendants and incarcerated as a political prisoner on Robben Island and at Pollsmoor prison.

No Bread for Mandela is the gripping story of Kathrada’s lifelong battle for justice in South Africa. At age seventeen, Kathrada left school to become a youth organizer for the Transvaal Passive Resistance Council and assisted with uniting various opposition groups under the leadership of the African National Congress. Arrested in 1963 at the age of thirty-four on charges of sabotage and conspiracy against the South African government, Kathrada was sentenced to life in prison. Although he, Nelson Mandela, and other African prisoners were serving the same sentence, under prison regulations of the apartheid regime, Kathrada, who is of Indian descent, received better treatment. Outraged at the inequities of apartheid and unwilling to concede defeat even in prison, Kathrada and his fellow prisoners continued the struggle for equality and justice. In prison, the most extreme form of protest and struggle was hunger strikes. Kathrada also was instrumental in organizing a covert communication network between prisoners in different sections of the prison and with the outside world.

This riveting memoir, spanning the history of modern South Africa, sheds new light on the struggle against apartheid. No Bread for Mandela is the moving and insightful account of a man who served among a loyal cadre of the African National Congress and helped in shaping his country’s history. Kathrada’s life is an inspiration and a model for everyone who seeks peace, justice, and reconciliation.

Ahmed Kathrada was born in South Africa in 1929. After his release from prison in 1989, he was elected as a member of parliament and served as parliamentary counsellor in to President Mandela. In 1994, he was elected chairperson of the Robben Island Council. He lives in Johannesburg, South Africa.

“Ahmed Kathrada has been so much part of my life over such a long period that it is inconceivable that I could allow him to write his memoirs without me contributing something. Our stories have become so interwoven that the telling of one without the voice of the other being heard somewhere would have led to an incomplete narration.”—Nelson Mandela

“Delightful and often amusing anecdotes of the life of a very self-effacing and yet deeply committed freedom fighter.”—Archbishop Desmond Tutu

“A book of questions and answers. . . . When humanity leaves the room, what do you do if you’re left inside? The extraordinary strength and almost inconceivable grace in these pages are as mind-blowing as the justice and peace Ahmed Kathrada helped bring about.”—Bono

Remembering the Civil War, 150 Years Ago Today

 

via The Illinois State Historical Society

via The Kentucky Historical Society

The legacy of the American Civil War (1861 – 1865) is remembered as the war that tore the U.S. apart. On April 12, 1861, Confederate commander P.G.T. Beauregard ordered open fire on Fort Sumter in South Carolina, and the war officially began. Until General Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox on April 9, 1865, the Union forces of the north, and the Confederate forces of the south clashed bitterly on battlegrounds across the country. Even as one of the darker blemishes on American history, the Civil War remains a part of our legacy as a struggle that helped shape our nation as we know it.

Today we commemorate the sesquicentennial, or 150th Anniversary, of the start of the Civil War. As Kentuckians we have always had the unique designation as a border state that declared allegiance to neither the south nor the north, and our geography claims battle sites such as Perryville and Forts Henry and Donelson. Kentucky is also the birthplace of both Civil War presidents Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis, Lincoln’s wife Mary Todd, U.S. Vice President and Confederate States’ Secretary of War John C. Breckinridge, and Basil Wilson Duke, who was also the brother-in-law of John Hunt Morgan (not a native Kentuckian, but who made Lexington his home).

President Lincoln recognized the strategic importance of Kentucky during the war, declaring:

“I hope to have God on my side, but I must have Kentucky.”

If Civil War history is your thing, or you’d like to celebrate the sesquicentennial by learning a little bit more, The University Press of Kentucky wants to feed your interest with books, maps, photos, and a little help from our friends.

  • The Kentucky Historical Society has lots of Civil War happenings and projects you can check out here. And links to their news and events surrounding the sesquicentennial here.
  • KET has some wonderful educational overviews of the Civil War in Kentucky, including timelines, maps, and speeches.
  • The Library of Congress was recently gifted with the Liljenquist Family Collection of Civil War Photographs which features ‘more than 700 ambrotype and tintype photographs [that] highlight both Union and Confederate soldiers during the American Civil War’. Spend a few minutes flipping through, the quality and detail are incredible!
Unidentified African American Union soldier with a rifle and revolver in front of painted backdrop showing weapons and   American flag at Benton Barracks, Saint Louis, Missouri. From the Liljenquist Family Collection of Civil War Photographs, http://www.loc.gov
  • Though its not ENTIRELY Civil War related, The University of Louisville has an extensive collection of historic Kentucky maps, digitized for your easy perusal. Including this Civil War-era map of Louisville and its defenses.
  • University Press of Kentucky author Rusty Williams (My Old Confederate Home) maintains a blog of the same name, highlighting stories from Confederate soldiers’ homes.
  • And of course, The University Press of Kentucky has a substantial list of Civil War reading, inluding:

The Virginia at War Series

One of Morgan’s Men: Memoirs of Lieutenant John M. Porter of the Ninth Kentucky Cavalry


Kentuckians in Gray: Confederate Generals and Field Officers of the Bluegrass State


Perryville: This Grand Havoc of Battle

For more UPK Civil War Titles see below, or visit www.kentuckypress.com

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