PRESIDENTIAL STYLE: Some Giants and a Pygmy in the White House by Samuel & Dorothy Rosenman

PRESIDENTIAL STYLE: Some Giants and a Pygmy in the White House

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The late Judge Samuel Rosenman worked closely with FDR and Harry Truman; he and his wife have written a big book in celebration of the strong presidency, as exemplified by the two Roosevelts, Wilson, and Truman--and defined in the breach by Warren Harding. Neither original nor balanced, the book does have the energy of its enthusiasm. After Teddy's bluntness and his evolution into a reformer (there is no hint that the corporations themselves favored ""regulation"") comes the best chapter on Wilson, who was not merely the stock ""man of vision"" but also highly likable, though the authors leave out the harshest aspects of his attitude toward race relations and repression of the left. Toward FDR the Rosenmans are what can only be called worshipful, indulging in such statements as ""Except for (!) the policy in gold, deficit spending and NRA, everything the New Deal tried in 1933 and in 1936 was covered by the speeches of 1932. . . ."" The main theme, coming uncomfortably close to the strong-man principle, is FDR's fearlessness and decisiveness. Truman's qualifications for the presidency are praised, though the book overlooks his courage, when a Senator, in exposing Standard Oil's cartel collaboration with the proprietors of Auschwitz, I. G. Farben. After all this, poor Harding looks two-bitsier than ever. The book's approach to analysis of ""presidential style"" is to find a seeming inconsistency and make a principle of it--thus Wilson practiced procrastination, then made abrupt decisions; Truman was sometimes tough, sometimes patient. The introduction is by the academic sponsor of the ""strong presidency"" thesis, James McGregor Burns. Expect a readership.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1975
Publisher: Harper & Row