The Leaders We Deserved
Alvin S. Felzenberg
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Buy *The Leaders We Deserved (and a Few We Didn't): Rethinking the Presidential Rating Game* by Alvin S. Felzenberg online

The Leaders We Deserved (and a Few We Didn't): Rethinking the Presidential Rating Game
Alvin S. Felzenberg
Basic Books
480 pages
June 2008
rated 4 1/2 of 5 possible stars

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The Leaders We Deserved rates American presidents based on specific traits: character, vision, competence, economic performance, foreign policy achievements, and their effect on human rights.

There is little surprise at the number-one ranking, for this president consistently ranks first by almost everyone’s yardstick. I was, however, shocked by two of the top five and thought that one ranked 34th should have been lower. Those of you who have read some of my reviews know very well who I believe should be ranked dead last. Enough said.

The greatest part of Felzberg’s ranking system is that he considers categories that have previously not been applied and therefore did not encompass the accomplishments or devastations of past Presidents.

Everyone knows of the advances Lincoln made on human rights, but few know much if anything about his foreign policies. Grant, formerly relegated to the “boozer” category, actually also worked very hard to stamp out the Ku Klux Klan. Kennedy is best known for his philandering first and the Bay of Pigs debacle second; this means he rarely gets credit for averting nuclear war. We all know Nixon was a crook, but he does deserve recognition and thanks for his work with China. Ouch; that last part was painful to write.

Seriously, folks, The Leaders We Deserved should be required reading for all political science students. Actually, that should probably be extended to all history students, so that everyone is exposed to an unbiased assessment of our Presidents.

Felzenberg has created an indispensable rating system for further Presidents and a book destined to be a valuable addition to school curriculums. If you read it - and you should - you will learn.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at © Camden Alexander, 2008

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