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Presidents and the Dissolution of the Union: Leadership Style from Polk to Lincoln

by Fred I Greenstein Princeton University Press
Pub Date:
07/2015
ISBN:
9780691166612
Format:
Pbk 200 pages
Price:
AU$31.99 NZ$33.90
Product Status: In Stock Now
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The United States witnessed an unprecedented failure of its political system in the mid-nineteenth century, resulting in a disastrous civil war that claimed the lives of an estimated 750,000 Americans. In his other acclaimed books about the American presidency, Fred Greenstein assesses the personal strengths and weaknesses of presidents from George Washington to Barack Obama. Here, he evaluates the leadership styles of the Civil War-era presidents.

Using his trademark no-nonsense approach, Greenstein looks at the presidential qualities of James K. Polk, Zachary Taylor, Millard Fillmore, Franklin Pierce, James Buchanan, and Abraham Lincoln. For each president, he provides a concise history of the man's life and presidency, and evaluates him in the areas of public communication, organisational capacity, political skill, policy vision, cognitive style, and emotional intelligence. Greenstein sheds light on why Buchanan is justly ranked as perhaps the worst president in the nation's history, how Pierce helped set the stage for the collapse of the Union and the bloodiest war America had ever experienced, and why Lincoln is still considered the consummate American leader to this day.

Presidents and the Dissolution of the Union reveals what enabled some of these presidents, like Lincoln and Polk, to meet the challenges of their times - and what caused others to fail.


Chapter 1 The Presidential Difference in the Civil War Era 1

Chapter 2 The Policy-Driven Political Style of James K. Polk 13

Chapter 3 The Rough and Ready Leadership of Zachary Taylor 29

Chapter 4 Millard Fillmore and the Compromise of 1850 43

Chapter 5 Franklin Pierce and the Kansas-Nebraska Act 57

Chapter 6 The Disastrous Presidency of James Buchanan 75

Chapter 7 Abraham Lincoln: Consummate Leader 93

Chapter 8 What Difference Did the President Make? 111

Appendix Background on the Civil War Era Presidents 127

Notes 147

Further Reading 159

Acknowledgments 171

Index 173

Fred I. Greenstein is professor of politics emeritus at Princeton University. His books include Inventing the Job of President: Leadership Style from George Washington to Andrew Jackson (Princeton), The Presidential Difference: Leadership Style from FDR to Barack Obama (Princeton), and The Hidden-Hand Presidency: Eisenhower as Leader.