A bona-fide American hero at the close of World War II, General Dwight D. Eisenhower rode an enormous wave of popularity into the Oval Office seven years later. Though we may view the Eisenhower years through a hazy lens of 1950s nostalgia, historians consider his presidency one of the least successful. At home there was civil rights unrest, McCarthyism, and a deteriorating economy; internationally, the Cold War was deepening. But despite his tendency toward "brinksmanship," Ike would later be revered for "keeping the peace." Still, his actions and policies at the onset of his career, covered by Tom Wicker, would haunt Americans of future generations.
When Gerald R. Ford entered the White House in August 1974, he inherited a presidency tarnished by the Watergate scandal, the economy was in a recession, the Vietnam War was drawing to a close, and he had taken office without having been elected. Most observers gave him little chance of success, especially after he pardoned Richard Nixon just a month into his presidency, an action that outraged many Americans, but which Ford thought was necessary to move the nation forward.
Many people today think of Ford as a man who stumbled a lot--clumsy on his feet and in politics--but acclaimed historian Douglas Brinkley shows him to be a man of independent thought and conscience, who never allowed party loyalty to prevail over his sense of right and wrong. As a young congressman, he stood up to the isolationists in the Republican leadership, promoting a vigorous role for America in the world. Later, as House minority leader and as president, he challenged the right wing of his party, refusing to bend to their vision of confrontation with the Communist world. And after the fall of Saigon, Ford also overruled his advisers by allowing Vietnamese refugees to enter the United States, arguing that to do so was the humane thing to do.
Brinkley draws on exclusive interviews with Ford and on previously unpublished documents (including a remarkable correspondence between Ford and Nixon stretching over four decades), fashioning a masterful reassessment of Gerald R. Ford's presidency and his underappreciated legacy to the nation.
A protean figure and a man of massive achievement, Franklin Delano Roosevelt was the only man to be elected to the presidency more than twice. In a ranking of chief executives, no more than three of his predecessors could truly be placed in contention with his standing, and of his successors, there are so far none.
In acute, stylish prose, Roy Jenkins tackles all of the nuances and intricacies of FDR's character. He was a skilled politician with astounding flexibility; he oversaw an incomparable mobilization of American industrial and military effort; and, all the while, he aroused great loyalty and dazzled those around him with his personal charm. Despite several setbacks and one apparent catastrophe, his life was buoyed by the influence of Eleanor, who was not only a wife but an adviser and one of the twentieth century's greatest political reformers.
Nearly complete before Jenkins's death in January 2003, this volume was finished by historian Richard Neustadt.