Riddle of Power: Presidential Leadership from Truman

Robert Shogan, Author Dutton Books $21.95 (352p) ISBN 978-0-525-24956-6
Shogan, who covers national politics for the Los Angeles Times , argues that presidential performance is best understood in the context of the individual's ideology, values and character. Applying this grid in turn to the nine postwar chief executives, he maintains, for example, that Eisenhower's feeble ideology led to his passive stand on civil rights; that the balanced interplay of the three factors in Kennedy's presidency enabled him to exploit his success in the missile crisis; and that Carter's lack of interest in ideology was a weakness that his high-minded values and noble character could not offset. Reagan's ideology, according to the author, reinforced his values and, combined with his ``credibility,'' made for a popular presidency. As to the present occupant of the White House: given what we know about President Bush's ideology, values and character, the prospects for his success in dealing with the larger domestic and foreign issues are ``dubious.'' Shogan's argument is at best confusing and at worst incomprehensible, largely because he fails to define adequately his three central terms. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 03/04/1991
Release date: 03/01/1991
Paperback - 352 pages - 978-0-452-26771-8
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