This collection of essays on presidents and the strengthening of the presidency served as the basis of a 54-part CBS-TV series. Prominent among the contributors are historians known as advocates of a forceful executive, like Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. and James McGregor Burns. In a series of assessments of the major presidencies from 1789 on, they praise Washington, Jackson, and Teddy Roosevelt for expanding the sway of the White House, though Watergate is seen as ""a dangerous thrust for political power."" The one-by-one appraisals become rather tedious and yet remain incomplete, compiling familiar squibs and homilies (Ike was loved for his nonpartisanship, LBJ was ""too quick on the draw""). The section on the presidency vis-Ã -vis other branches of government features two comparatively solid pieces by Lewis Koenig; one traces post-WW II enhancement of the President's power to make foreign policy, the second describes the advent of an ""invisible presidency"" based on swollen White House staffs. Essays on the presidents and the ""issues"" include Roy Wilkins' memorial to LBJ as ""the Southern President who did the most for the Negro"" and the New York Times London chief's affirmation that the American press is an ""independent medium."" The editors conclude that a strong presidency is still required. Readers unfamiliar with the ""Burns school"" may find this a convenient introduction; others will feel a lack of critical starch in the book as a whole.