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In the American political system today, courage and the presidency are rarely spoken of in the same sentence. Forgotten is the wisdom of Andrew Jackson: "One man of courage makes a majority." Thomas J. Whalen's A Higher Purpose seeks to prove the truth behind Jackson's words by relating the stories of nine historic decisions made by commanders-in-chief over two centuries of American history. From Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation to Theodore Roosevelt's confrontation with the business trusts, these vignettes show how some of our presidents have demonstrated the capacity to place their political lives on the line for a higher purpose.
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Thomas J. Whalen teaches social science at Boston University and has written Kennedy versus Lodge and Dynasty's End. He lives in Peabody, Massachusetts.Review:
Modeled after John F. Kennedy's Pulitzer-Prize winning Profiles In Courage, which focused on eight American political figures who put aside political considerations and sectional interests for the national welfare, Thomas Whalen concentrates on nine U.S. presidents who similarly exhibited moral courage while confronting national crises. An excellent read especially for the non-specialist as well as a worthy sequel to the JFK study. (James N. Giglio, author of The Presidency of John F. Kennedy)
This is a timely and engaging study of moral courage in high office, offering profiles of nine American presidents—including a few surprising choices—who took stands they believed right, regardless of the political costs and personal consequences. (Donald A. Ritchie, author of Reporting from Washington: The History of the Washington Press Corps)
These historic examples of presidential courage are needed now more than ever. Too often today, we confuse obstinance or defiance with leadership. Strong leaders are moral leaders who understand their first duty is to the nation not themselves. The author gives us hope that perhaps presidents can again find that higher purpose to leadership. (Leon Panetta)
Whalen's study constitutes intriguingly construed history, eloquently told. (Publishers Weekly)
A highly readable exercise examining nine instances in which American presidents have acted against their own political interest. (Kirkus Reviews)
Enjoyable and informative recounting of . . . American history's greatest events and of the brave presidential decisions that made them possible. (Karl Helicher ForeWord Reviews)
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