Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Professor Richard Striner's New Book Explores Presidential Power at its Bipartisan Best

CHESTERTOWN, MD—Washington College professor Richard Striner’s latest book, Lincoln’s Way: How Six Great Presidents Created American Power, explores the power of the U.S. presidency to create sweeping and positive changes throughout the nation. Published by Rowman & Littlefield, it is available online and will be in stores by late September. The book has earned critical praise for the way it combines scholarship and depth of knowledge with an engaging and clear style of writing. Blending intellectual history and presidential biography, the forceful narrative creates a valuable lens for viewing the present.

In the book, Dr. Striner explains how Abraham Lincoln set the stage for America’s global superpower status by using his federal authority in shrewd and inspired ways, borrowing from both ends of the political spectrum. It was a legacy and a way of leading adopted by five subsequent presidents: Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower and Kennedy. These six presidents—three from each party—helped America fulfill its great potential. Lincoln’s Way illustrates how their leadership spanned the huge gulf that exists between our ideological cultures: they drew from both conservative and liberal ideas, thus consolidating powerful centrist governance.

Dr. Striner’s argument strongly contradicts the philosophy of the current Tea Party movement, that “the government that governs best, governs least.” The presidents he admires for their leadership denounced the idea that government was “always the answer” but did believe it was “sometimes the answer” when it came to necessities. “They believed in the value of coordinated national life—in teamwork,” he writes in his introduction.

Lincoln’s Way earned advance praise from two well-known fellow historians and authors, James MacGregor Burns and James M. McPherson. Burns called Lincoln’s Way “an unforgettable book” and “must reading for lovers of American History—a fresh and spirited presentation of some of our greatest leaders, with special emphasis on key ideas, presented in a broad intellectual framework.”

Noting Dr. Striner’s “remarkable range of knowledge,” McPherson wrote: “Drawing on a lifetime of scholarship, the author writes with great clarity for a general audience beyond the academy, while at the same time offering original insights that deepen and broaden our understanding of how the government promoted greater justice and equity in the American socioeconomic order during the century from the 1860s to the 1960s.”

Dr. Striner’s earlier book, Father Abraham: Lincoln’s Relentless Struggle to End Slavery, was published in 2006 by Oxford University Press. A professor of history at Washington College, he is an interdisciplinary scholar whose fields of study include economics, architecture, historic preservation, English literature and film. He also is a senior writer for the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial Committee.

The C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience will sponsor a public reading from Lincoln’s Way on Thursday, September 23. Dr. Striner’s reading will begin at 4:30 p.m. in the Sophie Kerr Room, Miller Library, and will be followed by a reception and book signing. Copies of the book will be available for purchase.

1 comment: