In the American political system today, courage and the presidency are rarely spoken of in the same sentence. Forgotten is the wisdom of Andrew Jackson: "One man of courage makes a majority." Thomas J. Whalen's A Higher Purpose seeks to prove the truth behind Jackson's words by relating the stories of nine historic decisions made by commanders-in ...
In the American political system today, courage and the presidency are rarely spoken of in the same sentence. Forgotten is the wisdom of Andrew Jackson: "One man of courage makes a majority." Thomas J. Whalen's A Higher Purpose seeks to prove the truth behind Jackson's words by relating the stories of nine historic decisions made by commanders-in-chief over two centuries of American history. From Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation to Theodore Roosevelt's confrontation with the business trusts, these vignettes show how some of our presidents have demonstrated the capacity to place their political lives on the line for a higher purpose.
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Publishers Weekly, 2007-05-21 Boston University social scientist Whalen (Kennedy Versus Lodge) insightfully applies to residents of the White House JFK's rubric from his Profiles in Courage. As Kennedy did, Whalen seeks heroes who display a willingness to go against the political tide in order to do what is right. The ultimate example is Gerald Ford, who took the profoundly unpopular step of pardoning Nixon and then paid the political price in the next presidential election. Whalen also cites FDR's maneuvering to support Great Britain against the Nazis in the days before Pearl Harbor despite an isolationist and antiwar electorate; Harry Truman's firing of the abrasive but wildly popular Douglas MacArthur; and Kennedy's siding with civil rights interests challenging segregation at the University of Alabama. Several other examples are less obvious instances of presidential courage. These include Andrew Jackson's heartfelt yet ill-advised fight against a national bank and Grover Cleveland's opposition to the annexation of the Hawaiian islands. Two more events in Whalen's roster are debatable. Was Lincoln going against, or with, political currents when he drafted the Emancipation Proclamation? And was Theodore Roosevelt not catering to his large Progressive base when he broke up the Northern Securities railroad companies' combination? These quibbles aside, Whalen's study constitutes intriguingly construed history, eloquently told. Illus. (Sept.) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
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