For the Survival of Liberty: Great Presidential Decisions
By focusing on the lives and accomplishments of six United States presidents, historian Klibanoff lays out a richly detailed blueprint for American liberty. Beginning with George Washington—"No single person is more responsible for the success of the brave experiment in liberty," the author notes—and the development of the country's economic framework, Klibanoff culls from diverse sources (including the presidents' own letters and public papers) to create extensive profiles of Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe, Abraham Lincoln, Woodrow Wilson, and Franklin Roosevelt. Jefferson oversaw significant U.S. expansion with the Louisiana Purchase, Monroe protected liberties in foreign countries via the Monroe Doctrine, Lincoln pursued freedom and equal opportunity for all Americans through his Emancipation Proclamation and Gettysburg Address, Wilson presented the Treaty of Versailles in 1919 and blazed new trails toward international peace, and Roosevelt's New Deal provided relief to banks, farmers, and the unemployed following the Great Depression. Not all of these pursuits of liberty were popular at the time, but as Klibanoff points out in "legacy" sections and a short concluding chapter, repercussions can still be felt today. Klibanoff goes beyond textbooks, synthesizing volumes of material into a cohesive and engaging 300 pages, while not overlooking interesting details, such as Lincoln's hand becoming "extremely swollen from greeting his visitors" on New Year's Day.