cover image Mr. President: How and Why the Founders Created a Chief Executive%E2%80%A8

Mr. President: How and Why the Founders Created a Chief Executive%E2%80%A8

Ray Raphael. Knopf, $27.95 (336) ISBN 978-0-307-59527-0

In a time when many find themselves questioning the efficacy of the presidency (seemingly regardless of party affiliation), the eligibility of future candidates, and the efficiency of the election process, a look back at the origins of the highest office in the U.S. is particularly timely. In this engaging narrative, Raphael (Founders: The People Who Brought You a Nation) elucidates the goings-on of the Federal%C2%A0Convention; the Continental Congresses and the various committees and debates that stemmed from them; and the myriad questions (some of which we still ask today) that shaped the American presidency: "Who would elect a chief executive? How long would he serve? What authority would he exercise? Who could check his power?" Peopled by such well-known figures as James Madison and George Washington, Raphael's latest also includes notable characters like the brilliant, "flamboyant, peg-legged orator" Gouverneur Morris, and the man responsible for the initial motion that the presidency consist of a single individual, James Wilson. Meticulously detailed and thoroughly researched%E2%80%94Raphael cites the papers of many icons of the nation's birth, such as Alexander Hamilton and Benjamin Franklin%E2%80%94this is a valuable read for Democrats and Republicans, as well as historians and those interested in contemporary American politics. (Mar.)