Review by Choice Review
This interdisciplinary study argues that over the last 40 years the international primacy of the US has cast US presidents in roles demanding heroic leadership, and that those who have succeeded have done so within the context of core cultural values rooted in consensus history, US exceptionalism, and nationalism. Roper, a professor in one of Europe's vibrant American studies programs, employs presidential rhetoric, commentary by literary observers of US culture (particularly, even excessively, Norman Mailer), and historical context to analyze leadership styles. He contends that among the eight presidents who have served since 1960, Kennedy and Reagan were the most successful at cultivating heroic stature. Kennedy used frontier imagery, Reagan practiced nostalgic nationalism, and both built on anticommunism. The long shadows of Vietnam and Watergate help explain why other presidents were less effective, but Roper argues that the most successful presidents tapped into the nation's historic myths. A thoughtful interdisciplinary study, this book successfully incorporates a broad context (political, cultural, literary, and historical) into the assessment of presidents and their administrations. General and academic collections. A. J. Dunar; University of Alabama in Huntsville
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.