Saturday, January 26, 2008

On the coffee table -- "Presidential Courage"

Michael Beschloss is more a “pop”-level historian than a heavyweight like Garry Wills. The bad side is less depth. The plus side is, especially on a straightforward topic like this, an easy read.

Beschloss looks at several instances of presidential courage, some controversial. They include efforts by both Washington and John Adams to steer clear of war against both England and France, Andrew Jackson’s battle with the Bank of the United States, Lincoln’s management of the Civil War, especially his pre-election storm clouds of 1864, TRs trust-busting, FDR’s efforts to prepare the country for World War II, Truman’s decision to recognize the state of Israel (the least familiar to me, by far, in its details), Kennedy’s often-halting efforts on civil rights, and Reagan’s dealings with the Soviets on nuclear arms.