Ten Presidents from FDR to George Bush (Character Above All)
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Ten Presidents from FDR to George Bush (Character Above All)

3.93 of 5 stars 3.93  ·  rating details  ·  43 ratings  ·  10 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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The distinguished contributors to ''Character Above All'' would like to re-establish character as the primary qualification for high public office. Each chapter is written by a different historian and covers a president in a favorable manner. I share just a few snippets from each.
1) Franklin Roosevelt. Confidence.
No factor was more important to his leadership than his absolute confidence in himself and in the American people.

2) Truman: Grounded
"He liked Harry Truman. He enjoyed being Harry T
Tim Chavel
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
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. Eac...more
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...more
Shawn Thrasher
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
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
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
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.
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!
Dec 24, 2008 Cws added it
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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...
Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Wait Till Next Year The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys: An American Saga

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