cover image Fit for the Presidency? Winners, Losers, What-Ifs, and Also-Rans

Fit for the Presidency? Winners, Losers, What-Ifs, and Also-Rans

Seymour Morris Jr. Potomac, $32.95 (462) ISBN 978-1-61234-850-6

Asking what the best qualifications are for becoming a U.S. president, Morris (American History Revised) attempts to quantify these qualities by analyzing the résumés of 15 actual and would-be officeholders. Going from George Washington to Ronald Reagan, he takes an executive recruiter’s approach to scrutinizing his subjects’ experience and character. Morris notes that prior experience plays a major part in determining future success, but the ability to function in a crisis accounts for even more. The incredible success of political lightweight Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War and the failure of the seasoned Herbert Hoover at the onset of the Great Depression epitomize this notion. In laying out the histories of largely forgotten political figures such as DeWitt Clinton and Wendell Willkie, as well as those of the more famous Gen. George Marshall, Barry Goldwater, and Bobby Kennedy, and examining their pitfalls and triumphs, Morris ultimately lets the reader decide what constitutes a great presidential candidate. Given his exceptionally extensive and open-minded analysis, it is a shame that he did not include resumes for the current candidates running for office in this year’s election. (Jan.)