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Leading from the Center: Why Moderates Make the Best Presidents

Gil Troy, Author
Gil Troy, Author . Basic $26.95 (341p) ISBN 978-0-465-00293-1
Reviewed on: 04/21/2008
Release date: 06/01/2008
Paperback - 678 pages - 978-1-4587-3545-4
Ebook - 351 pages - 978-0-7867-2153-5
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This well-intended book is an enjoyable exercise in wishful thinking. Historian Troy of McGill University (Morning in America ) plays the part of pundit by arguing that moderate presidents have always served the U.S. better than others. Americans are centrists at heart, he says, tracing the ups and downs of national consensus through the Bush administration. Yet Lincoln, one of Troy’s heroes, wasn’t moderate when it came to secession—he refused to compromise. Troy’s definition of “best presidents” is also open to debate. Does “best” mean most effective or most conforming to Troy’s centrist hopes? The author may think he’s swimming in fresh waters, but instead he’s offering a venerable American prayer for tranquil and harmonious government. The founders themselves deplored partisanship. And while Troy claims to roam over all American presidential history, he picks and chooses his early subjects, then deals with every president since FDR. Nevertheless, he makes his case in as robust a fashion as possible. That his history is stronger than his argument doesn’t detract from the pleasure of the work. (June)

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