Where they stand : the American presidents in the eyes of voters and historians

by Robert W. Merry

Hardcover, 2012




New York : Simon & Schuster, c2012.


Merry examines how and why presidents succeed and fail by recounting the judgments of historians and comparing them to how the voters saw things.

User reviews

LibraryThing member knightlight777
The book posed well thought out constructs on what can make or break a presidency. We have of course experienced it first had with the recent election. It is another thing to go back into history and look at what issues defined the historic presidencies. I was kind of expecting more of a trivia pursuits presentation but got from Merry a serious look at what defines greatest and failure in the eyes of historical perspective and how this changes over time and reevaluation.… (more)
LibraryThing member annbury
An interesting book on what the author himself describes as a parlor game -- rating the US presidents. The author suggests two scales for measuring presidential performance: the judgements of historians (reflected in the polls of academic historians that have been taken periodically) and the judgement of the electorate, reflected in election outcomes, These match up tolerably well, though there are exceptions. The author then looks at what made some presidential performances better than others. His judgements are necessarily subjective, and some readers (including me) will not agree with all of them -- particularly in the case of the more recent presidents. Still, this book is a good summary of "comparative presidentology"' and an interesting read.… (more)
LibraryThing member writemoves
US presidents were rated under the following classifications:
1, Great
2. Near Great
3. High or above average
4. Average
5. Low or Below Average
6. Failure

The three consensus Great Presidents were George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Presidents named in the failure category included James Buchanan, Warren Harding, Andrew Johnson and Richard Nixon.

I will rate the Presidents in my lifetime from 1952 to now:
Harry Truman – high or above average
Dwight Eisenhower – average
John F. Kennedy – higher above average
Lyndon Johnson – average ( would have rated higher if not for the Vietnam War)
Richard Nixon – failure
Gerald Ford – average
Jimmy Carter – lower or below average
Ronald Reagan – average
George H Bush – average
Bill Clinton – higher or above average
George W. Bush – low or below average
Barack Obama – high or above average
Donald Trump – headed for Failure
… (more)
LibraryThing member tloeffler
Robert Merry discusses the ranking of the Presidents, comparing polls, historians' rankings, and voter rankings. It's fascinating to read how the ranks change over the years (and which ones stay the same!). Do his personal thoughts come through also? Of course they do, but only as another ranking, not holding himself above the other opinions. Mr. Merry is NOT a fan of James Buchanan!

Very interesting side book to my US Presidents Challenge!
… (more)


Local notes

Signed by the author


Page: 0.2689 seconds