1600 PENNSYLVANIA AVENUE by Walter Johnson


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This book might almost be said to take up where G. F. Milton left off (with a modicum of overlapping) in analyzing The Use of Presidential Power (also Little, Brown-1944). But where Milton took those presidents he felt has made the greatest impact on the role of the Executive, ending with Franklin D. Roosevelt, then in the White House, Walter Johnson has studied the roles of successive presidents, from Hoover to Eisenhower. His study is backgrounded by a survey of contemporary history, and it will be, perhaps, this phase of his book that will recommend it to most readers, for he puts remembered times in perspective and lends the overall picture of our years a sense of pace. During Hoover's presidency the effort seemed primarily to be to hold back the forces of social and political revolution. With F.D.R. Americans had come to recognize a larger share of responsibility on government's part in all phases of life, - social, economic, financial, political. A class revolution had grown out of crisis; the American stereotype might be said to have become the machinist in Detroit, the middle class base was changed and here to stay. Truman is portrayed as a man who ""could do the big things in the biggest way and the little things in the littlest way"". He grow in an office he would never have chosen; but- in contrast with Roosevelt, he had no gift for leadership, in a country in ferment. Nor has his successor, Eisenhower. For his first term, Dulles and Sherman Adams dominated the White House; since they were lost to the stage, Eisenhower has been forced to give personal attention to the business of being a president -- a role which has been marked by great changes. Energy at the top could recreate the atmosphere now rigidified by bureaucracy and by an economic and political euphoria. The honeymoon engendered by Eisenhower's immense personal charm and popularity has ended. This whole analysis tends to be objectively critical rather than constructively creative, but should provide a thoughtful reader with a sound perspective on the relation of the executive to our national life. ""The President alone can give the nation an effective lead.

Pub Date: May 9th, 1960
Publisher: Little, Brown