Letter to a New President: Commonsense Lessons for Our Next Leader

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9780312383022: Letter to a New President: Commonsense Lessons for Our Next Leader

A legendary Senator advises our next President on the commonsense values necessary to lead our nation
United States Senator Robert C. Byrd is the longest-serving member of the United States Senate in the history of our great Republic.  Senator Byrd has served the people of West Virginia, and the nation, for fifty-four years, and has served alongside eleven Presidents.  He was twice elected by his colleagues to the position of Senate Majority Leader and currently is chairman of the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee. Byrd has lived through two world wars, the Great Depression, the civil rights movement, the Cold War, the resignation of a U.S. President, the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and traumatic military conflicts around the globe, including Iraq and Vietnam. Byrd has been a witness to it all.  And now, in his ninetieth year of life, he wants to share the commonsense lessons he has learned from his unique vantage point in history.
In Letter to a New President, Byrd recounts lessons drawn from his remarkable life as a young boy growing up poor in the coalfields of southern West Virginia to his meteoric rise to the pinnacles of power in Washington, D.C.  From his unique vantage point in history, Byrd focuses his observations on underappreciated and seldom discussed virtues like personal responsibility, careful consideration before making decisions, and a sense of decency and fairness even toward fierce opponents.  A student of history and a defender of our Constitution, Byrd looks to the past for lessons and, in Letter to a New President, studies present failures as guides for constructive lessons for the future.
This book will help the next President grapple with the heavy demands of the office.  Every American who cares about where this country is heading will find rich wisdom in Byrd’s sage advice.
Enlightened by a wide-ranging knowledge of American history and a love for the guiding principles of the Constitution, Byrd’s observations sharpen the focus of the historical moment in which we find ourselves, as no one but Senator Byrd can.

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About the Author:

Senator Robert C. Byrd is a nine-term Senator from West Virginia.  Serving since 1959, he is the longest-serving Senator in the history of the Republic.  He has held more leadership positions in the U.S. Senate than any other Senator in history, including the Office of President pro tempore, Senate Majority and Minority Leader, Senate Majority and Minority Whip, and chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee. 

Steve Kettmann has written for publications including The New York Times, The New Republic, and Salon.com. The author of One Day at Fenway, he cowrote the New York Times bestsellers Juiced with Jose Canseco and What a Party! with Terry McAuliffe.

Review:

“Senator Byrd draws on a lifetime of experience to offer a guiding hand to our country’s next Commander in Chief. His unfailing faith in God and country provides an example of the best we should hope to find in our leaders as well as any of our fellow citizens.” --President Jimmy Carter

“Few people are better qualified to advise the next President of the United States than Senator Robert Byrd. In this book, he draws on his vast knowledge and experience with complex issues in both domestic and foreign policy, and offers remarkable insights and extraordinary wisdom about the immense challenges our next President will face here at home and in our ties with other nations. It’s a book that will appeal to every citizen who cares about our country as well.” --Senator Edward Kennedy

"From one of the most respected and revered voices over the last half-century comes wise and insightful advice not only for our next president but for all of us. This treasured work deserves high critical praise and should reach the widest audience." --Doris Kearns Goodwin


"This is a moving and insightful book that should be read by all of us -- even if we won't be the next President! I highly recommend it." --Andrei Cherny, author, The Candy Bombers



In this book-length letter to the next president, Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) draws on his 56 years of experience in Congress to offer advice, admonition and encouragement. With frequent references to past presidents, especially his personal favorite, Harry Truman, Byrd claims that his passion for the Constitution is only rivaled by his love for his wife. He presents a readable, if slight, survey of past presidencies and a scathing evaluation of the "greatest crisis" in the nation's history brought about by the "failings" of the Bush administration: the buildup to the war in Iraq and the president's bungled handling of Hurricane Katrina's aftermath. Chapter headings such as "Bring Back the Fireside Chat" and scads of references to Emerson, Jefferson and Thoreau provide a rich philosophical context to Byrd's political thought, even as much of his advice feels familiar and anodyne: "Build Your Presidency Around Accountability." The book's detailed analysis of the great power and responsib (Publisher Weekly)

Looking back on a long line of presidents, men of divergent dispositions facing divergent circumstances, Byrd finds among them common ground in spiritual faith and--as the nation aged--a long history of succession and the personal limitations of its leaders. Byrd points to ample lessons from the Bush administration, starting with the war in Iraq. Among his sound advice to Mister or Madame President: restore confidence in government, repair the trampled image of the U.S. abroad, accept responsibility for decisions, acknowledge mistakes, respect checks and balances. At 90 years of age, after 9 terms as Democratic senator from West Virginia under 11 presidents, Byrd offers a long view of the best and worst impulses of those who have served as president, looking back on the Vietnam War, the cold war, and the civil rights movement. Readers who enjoyed Madeleine Albright's Memo to the President Elect (2008) will appreciate another perspective on presidential leadership.-- Vanessa Bush (Vanessa Bush Booklist)

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