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Leading from the Center

by Gil Troy

George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy-most would agree their presidencies were among the most successful in American history. But what made these very different men such effective leaders? According to presidential historian Gil Troy, these presidents succeeded not because of their bold political visions, but because of their moderation. Although many of the presidential hopefuls for 2008 will claim to be moderates, the word cannot conceal a political climate defined by extreme rhetoric and virulent partisanship. In Leading From the Center, Gil Troy argues that this is a distinctly un-American state of affairs. The great presidents of American history have always sought a golden mean-from Washington, who brilliantly mediated between the competing visions of Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton, to Lincoln, who rescued the Union with his principled pragmatism, to the two Roosevelts, who united millions of Americans with their powerful, affirmative, nationalist visions. As America lines up to select a president for the future, Gil Troy astutely reminds us of the finest traditions of presidential leadership from our nation's past.

Morning in America

by Gil Troy

Did America's fortieth president lead a conservative counterrevolution that left liberalism gasping for air? The answer, for both his admirers and his detractors, is often "yes." In Morning in America, Gil Troy argues that the Great Communicator was also the Great Conciliator. His pioneering and lively reassessment of Ronald Reagan's legacy takes us through the 1980s in ten year-by-year chapters, integrating the story of the Reagan presidency with stories of the decade's cultural icons and watershed moments-from personalities to popular television shows. One such watershed moment was the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. With the trauma of Vietnam fading, the triumph of America's 1983 invasion of tiny Grenada still fresh, and a reviving economy, Americans geared up for a festival of international harmony that-spurred on by an entertainment-focused news media, corporate sponsors, and the President himself-became a celebration of the good old U.S.A. At the Games' opening, Reagan presided over a thousand-voice choir, a 750-member marching band, and a 90,000-strong teary-eyed audience singing "America the Beautiful!" while waving thousands of flags. Reagan emerges more as happy warrior than angry ideologue, as a big-picture man better at setting America's mood than implementing his program. With a vigorous Democratic opposition, Reagan's own affability, and other limiting factors, the eighties were less counterrevolutionary than many believe. Many sixties' innovations went mainstream, from civil rights to feminism. Reagan fostered a political culture centered on individualism and consumption-finding common ground between the right and the left. Written with verve, Morning in America is both a major new look at one of America's most influential modern-day presidents and the definitive story of a decade that continues to shape our times.

Morning in America: How Ronald Reagan Invented the 1980s

by Gil Troy

A reassessment of Ronald Reagan's legacy takes us through the 1980s in ten year-by-year chapters, combining stories of the Reagan presidency and stories of the decade's cultural icons and watershed.

See How They Ran

by Gil Troy

See How They Ran explores why candidates campaign as they do, why Americans complain about it, and what these evolving patterns and changing images tell us about American democracy itself.On the eve of every election, many Americans become convinced that this presidential campaign is worse than it has ever been. Frustrated, we long for the good old days of dignified campaigns and worthy candidates. However, as Gil Troy's fascinating history demonstrates, they never existed. Originally, candidates did not run for office, but awaited the people's call in dignified silence. When Stephen Douglas campaigned in 1860, he pretended to be visiting his mother as he traveled, not actively campaigning. In the post-1945 world, however, both Democratic and Republican candidates have stopped to kiss babies, donned hard hats, and pumped hands along the campaign trails. From the founding of our nation, Americans have wanted a leader who is simultaneously a man of the people and a man above the people. In See How They Ran, Troy shows that our disappointment with current presidential campaigns is simply the latest chapter in a centuries-long struggle to make peace with the idea of leadership in a democratic society. This is an engrossing and essential read.

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