Review by Choice Review
The rise of the modern US presidency--independent, assertive, and the primary originator of national policy--has been examined by many scholars. But Ambar's book introduces a new take on the topic. Uncovering a now largely forgotten history of American governorships from the late-19th and early-20th centuries, Ambar (Lehigh Univ.) argues that the idea of the modern executive originated with changes in the governing style and philosophy of state governors. The author focuses on how the three presidents who ushered in the new style of presidential politics--Teddy Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, and FDR--acted as they did based largely on their gubernatorial experiences. Ambar also provides convincing evidence that other governors were introducing a similar style of leadership in the late-19th and early-20th centuries. Despite an excessive reliance on long quotes that tend to interrupt the flow of the narrative, Ambar's book is very readable and full of historical facts and insights that are a pleasure to discover. A must read for any student of US political history, presidential politics, or institutional development. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduate, graduate, and research collections. M. N. Green Catholic University of America
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.