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Character Above All: Ten Presidents from FDR to George Bush
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Character Above All: Ten Presidents from FDR to George Bush

3.85  ·  Rating Details ·  67 Ratings  ·  12 Reviews
Essays on ten United States presidents include Doris Kearns Goodwin on FDR, David McCullough on Truman, Stephen Ambrose on Eisenhower, Richard Reeves on Kennedy, and Peggy Noonan on Reagan. 35,000 first printing.
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published February 1st 1996 by Simon & Schuster (first published January 1st 1995)
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Tim Chavel
Jun 18, 2012 Tim Chavel rated it really liked it
This book uses 10 authors to write about ten presidents. Even though it is suppose to be about the character of the presidents some of the authors do not focus on that topic. My favorite of the writings was by James Cannon who wrote on President Gerald Ford Cannon seemed to give an honest assessment of Ford and his writing was easy to read, follow and was very interesting. Of course, I love Ronald Reagan and Peggy Noonan (the author who wrote about him). Noonan did a good job but I did not find ...more
Apr 13, 2013 Dale rated it it was amazing
Fascinating! Informative!

As the title implies, Character Above All: Ten Presidents from FDR to George Bush is a collection of biographial essays on each of the 10 presidents from FDR to George H.W. Bush (Bush 41) by 10 different authors who are either expert historians or knew the President while in office. The thing that ties them all together is that each essay is supposed to look at each man as president and find that one part of his character that made him the type of president he was. Ea
Oct 28, 2009 Bill rated it it was ok
This book doesn't live up to the promise of its premise: have 10 noted historians/writers examine how the Administrations of FDR through Bush I were above all shaped by each President's character.

Several of the historians included in this book (Goodwin, Reeves, Dallek, McCollough) had already produced full-blown books on the Presidents they address again here. Not surprisingly, these brief essays don't provide new information or insight on their subjects. Also, each essay stands alone. Although
If I could, I'd rate this about 3.5. This is a book of essays by 10 different authors -- one for each of the presidents FDR through GHWB. Most of the essays are about 20 pages long, some a bit longer. I have done quite a lot of reading about US Presidents, so not much of this was new to me. It provides a good overview, set in historical context, for people who might not be greatly invested in the topic but want a basic framework. It was written in 1995, so there are a few places where it's a bit ...more
Shawn Thrasher
Jan 24, 2013 Shawn Thrasher rated it liked it
In every collection of essays or short stories, there are highs and lows. Each essay is actually quite interesting, but only a few shed any new light or make you think about a president in a new way. James Cannon's essay on Gerald Ford was one of these, as was Hendrik Hertzberg's essay on Jimmy Carter. Goodwin and McCullough both write good essays, but are essentially just very boiled down versions of their much longer, better books. Peggy Noonan's essay on Reagan is laughably laudatory; I think ...more
May 26, 2010 Grey rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read 7 of the 10 essays in this book, skipping essays on the 3 presidents that least interest me. (I'll let you decide which ones those were for yourselves.) I never felt like I was reading a history book or a series of writings about leadership, in the ways that those genres can seem tired and overdone. The essays were full of insightful stories and commentary that made the book easy to pick up but not so riveting that I couldn't put it down.
Katherine Johnson
Dec 29, 2008 Katherine Johnson rated it it was amazing
I "borrowed" this book from my mother. It is a fine summary of the character of some of the recent presidents by contemporary historians. Check it out from the library - a quick, enlightening volume.
Paula Matuskey
Feb 27, 2016 Paula Matuskey rated it it was amazing
Includes 20 page essay on each of these presidents. Reader should be aware, however, of who each other author is and how that may influence their assessment. Very engaging, with new insights.
Dec 24, 2008 Cws added it
Shelves: j-ref
Some essays contained good analysis while others were very partisan. Quick read through 50 years of history. The concept could have been better executed.
Dec 04, 2011 Robin marked it as to-read
Doris Kearns Goodwin, David McCullough, Stephen E. Ambrose - what a great group of historian storytellers. (Sorry, I don't much about Richard Reeves and Peggy Noonan and the others.)
Connie Vore
Nov 23, 2009 Connie Vore marked it as to-read
Listened to her speak at a conference about 10 years ago - she's incredibly gifted and I can't wait to read more from her!
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Also credited as "Doris Kearns" on the first editions of Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream.
More about Doris Kearns Goodwin...

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