Wounded Titans: American Presidents and the Perils of Power

Max Lerner, Author, Robert Schmuhl, Editor Arcade Publishing $29.95 (352p) ISBN 978-1-55970-339-0
Edited and with an introduction by Robert Schmuhl, this is a hefty collection of the late Max Lerner's (1902-1992) writings on the American presidency. From a magazine article first published in the 1940s (on why FDR would be reelected), through essays that appeared in the 1950s (on presidential style and on how the cumbersome democratic system responds to crises), to his last newspaper column, published in 1992 (on judging presidents: Truman is his ""hero""), the book reflects Lerner's dual career as both an academic and a journalist. He discusses Jefferson (our ""philosopher king"") and Lincoln, the role of eros and the presidency (focusing on Kennedy) and makes the hardly startling observation that, although Americans confer considerable grandeur on their elected leaders, presidents are in fact simply men, wounded titans. The shorter newspaper columns--on-the-spot observations of presidents from Roosevelt to Bush--fill about half the book and make for the more lively reading. The brief notes by Schmuhl, chair of the department of American studies at Notre Dame, set the stage nicely. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 10/02/1996
Release date: 10/01/1996
Genre: Nonfiction
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