American Caesars

Lives of the Presidents from Franklin D. Roosevelt to George W. Bush

Nigel Hamilton

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November 22, 2011
576 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
35 b/w illus.
ISBN: 9780300177657
Paper

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A provocative portrait of U.S. presidents from Franklin D. Roosevelt to George W. Bush

American Caesars takes a fresh look at the lives and careers of the twelve leaders of the American empire since World War II, from Franklin D. Roosevelt to George W. Bush. President by president, the noted biographer Nigel Hamilton strips away myths and wishful thinking to record our most recent presidents as they really were: leaders guiding the fortunes of an unruly empire, on a world stage. Hamilton relates and examines the presidents’ unique characters, their paths to Pennsylvania Avenue, their effectiveness as global leaders, and their lessons in governance, both good and bad. With uncompromising candor he looks at how these powerful men responded to the challenges that defined their presidencies—FDR’s role as a war leader, Harry Truman’s decision to mount a Berlin Airlift rather than pursue military confrontation with the Soviets, Lyndon Johnson’s undertaking of controversial Civil Rights legislation and his disastrous war in Vietnam, Jimmy Carter’s handling of the Iran hostage crisis, George H. W. Bush’s effectiveness in guiding the world during the collapse of the Soviet Union, and his son’s fateful invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as other salient episodes in modern American history. In the Suetonian manner, Hamilton also looks at the presidents’ private lives—some noble, some flawed, some deeply moving.

 

A distinguished biographer, Nigel Hamilton is senior fellow in the McCormack Graduate School, University of Massachusetts, Boston, and President of Biographers International Organization.

"An excellent overview with a novel approach to comparing and contrasting presidential policies and personalities over the past eight decades."—Library Journal

"A delight of a summer book: history for the beach, politics for the deckchair, and waspish entertainment come rain or shine."—London Guardian

"[In the tradition of Suetonius' The Twelve Caesars, Hamilton is] opinionated but acutely insightful [about effects of personal traits on the presidency]. Biography fans won't equivocate: Hamilton's effrontery in mimicking Suetonius pays off in irreverent, pedestal-toppling prose."—Booklist

"An outstanding book. . . . A commanding study on the nature of personal authority and the presidency."—Irish Times

"Enthralling . . . [Hamilton] succeeds brilliantly, . . . offering bracingly clear, if necessarily digested, accounts of the main global events that occurred from the onset of World War Two to our own time."—Irish Independent

"Provocative, stimulating, infuriating, and readable history."—Herald Scotland

"An impressive gallop through eighty years of U.S. history."—Literary Review

"Hamilton does a superb job of getting at [the presidents'] essences. . . . Anyone who enjoys reading history, and loves to look behind the curtain to see the wizards at work, will find this book well worth reading."—Internet Review of Books

"Nigel Hamilton is a serious historian and he backs up his information with sources and contextual support, but he's also a rare writer who is unafraid to share his personal opinion or viewpoint on the subject that he is educating us about."—AND Magazine

Honorable Mention in the General Non-Fiction category of the 2010 Los Angeles Book Festival

Sales Restrictions: For sale in the United States only