By Nick Ragone, Prometheus Books, $25.00, 332 pages

10In Presidential Leadership, Nick Ragone examines fifteen situations where the action of the President has determined the course of history of the United States, or even if there would continue to be a United States at all. They range from the obscure: Andrew Jackson’s dealing with nullification, that few have ever heard of: George Washington putting down the Whiskey Rebellion that we might have heard of, but probably don’t really understand: President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation which we have heard of, understand, but don’t really know the context and back story.

In all fifteen examples, Nick Ragone provides the answers with an easy to read, well-researched book. He not only provides the bare bones, but fleshes it out with anecdotes and examples gleaned from the original letters and papers of those involved. ||Today, our government seems locked in insurmountable obstacles of ideology and stubbornness. If there is one overarching theme in this book, it is that this situation is more normal than not. We made it through those, so there is still hope.

Reviewed by Norman West