Inventing the Job of President
Leadership Style from George Washington to Andrew Jackson
Fred I. Greenstein
Narrated by Marc Cashman
Approximately 3.5 hours
Book published by Princeton University Press
From George Washington's decision to buy time for the new nation by signing the less-than-ideal Jay Treaty with Great Britain in 1795 to George W. Bush's order of a military intervention in Iraq in 2003, the matter of who is president of the United States is of the utmost importance. In this book, Fred Greenstein examines the leadership styles of the earliest presidents, men who served at a time when it was by no means certain that the American experiment in free government would succeed.
In his groundbreaking book The Presidential Difference, Greenstein evaluated the personal strengths and weaknesses of the modern presidents since Franklin D. Roosevelt. Here, he takes us back to the very founding of the republic to apply the same yardsticks to the first seven presidents from Washington to Andrew Jackson, giving his no-nonsense assessment of the qualities that did and did not serve them well in office. For each president, Greenstein provides a concise history of his life and presidency, and evaluates him in the areas of public communication, organizational capacity, political skill, policy vision, cognitive style, and emotional intelligence. Washington, for example, used his organizational prowess—honed as a military commander and plantation owner—to lead an orderly administration. In contrast, John Adams was erudite but emotionally volatile, and his presidency was an organizational disaster.
Inventing the Job of President explains how these early presidents and their successors shaped the American presidency we know today and helped the new republic prosper despite profound challenges at home and abroad.
Fred I. Greenstein is professor of politics emeritus at Princeton University. His books include The Presidential Difference: Leadership Style from FDR to Barack Obama (Princeton); The Hidden-Hand Presidency: Eisenhower as Leader; and How Presidents Test Reality: Decisions on Vietnam, 1954 and 1965.
Marc Cashman (narrator) has narrated dozens of audiobooks for major companies and is the winner of multiple Earphones Awards (AudioFile).
“An elegant and absorbing analysis of the early presidents and their political styles and how they helped shape this decidedly consequential leadership institution.”
—Thomas E. Cronin, Colorado College
“How have the American presidents stacked up as individual performers? In his earlier work, Greenstein asked this question of modern presidents. Here, exhibiting the same cool analytic discipline, he applies his lens to the first seven presidents. Yes, the Adamses were bumblers. Jefferson in office went downhill. Washington merits his place on Mount Rushmore. The big surprise is James Monroe, who was pretty good. Another surprise is the sheer variety in these early performances.”
—David Mayhew, Yale University
“In Inventing the Job of President, Greenstein applies to the early republic the insights he developed in his studies of the modern presidency. He assesses the first seven presidents in terms of their abilities to communicate publicly, their skills in managing colleagues and legislators, and the ways in which they handled their own emotions. By such means, Greenstein reminds us of an important matter—that it does matter who is president.”
—John Stagg, University of Virginia
“Fred Greenstein, one of the nation's best-regarded observers of the modern American presidency, has turned his attention to our first seven presidents and renders characteristically succinct and sage judgments on their performance. This is the perfect book for anyone who wants to understand how our early presidents invented the job of president.”
—Richard J. Ellis, Willamette University
“Valuable and important. Inventing the Job of President will appeal not only to scholars and students but also to general readers interested in the presidency. Greenstein shows that a variety of leadership styles—some that worked well, others that did not—existed among the early presidents. An interesting and thought-provoking work”
—Todd Estes, author of The Jay Treaty Debate, Public Opinion, and the Evolution of Early American Political Culture
“Captivating. Inventing the Job of President teaches about the past so that old events take on a contemporary significance. It is a book that introduces readers to the wonders—and good fortune—of this nation's first decades. Greenstein is hands down the best, most careful, and wisest presidential scholar.”
—William Ker Muir, Jr., author of The Bully Pulpit: The Presidential Leadership of Ronald Reagan
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
1. The Presidential Difference in the Early Republic
2. The Foundational Presidency of George Washington
3. John Adams: Absentee Chief Executive
4. Thomas Jefferson and the Art of Governance
5. The Anticlimactic Presidency of James Madison
6. The Political Competence of James Monroe
7. The Political Incompetence of John Quincy Adams
8. Andrew Jackson: Force of Nature
9. Presidents, Leadership Qualities, and Political Developmen