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Hardcover Reassessing the Presidency : The Rise of the Executive State and the Decline of Freedom Book

ISBN: 0945466293

ISBN13: 9780945466291

Reassessing the Presidency : The Rise of the Executive State and the Decline of Freedom

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This remarkable volume is the first full-scale revision of the official history of the U.S. executive state. It traces the progression of power exercised by American presidents from the early American... This description may be from another edition of this product.

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

HUGE book

I bought this volume on the recommendation of a good friend. If you're looking for another history written by the victor, keep looking. I am very interested in histories from an alternative point of view. I'm not saying critical, but something different. I like when the reviewer is not in the pocket of the person or event being reviewed. If you want a history from the perspective of our founding fathers, read this book. I am also interested in histories written when they were current events - before the colored lens of time distorts what really happened. This book supplies both needs. But be forewarned - this is not the whitewashing of your school history books and America's presidents are not always the good guys.

Reassessing the Presidency, Cincinnatus to Caesar

~Reassessing the Presidency : The Rise of the Executive State and the Decline of Freedom~ is an intriguing historical assessment of the American Presidency, which has become one of the most powerful institutions in the world. Likewise, the American Presidency has dramatically changed since its inception. Most modern history books on the Presidency are characterized by adulation of executive power, administrative largess, and aggressive federal intervention in domestic, economic and foreign policy. Nonetheless, this powerful reassessment of the Presidency by the Mises Institute challenges such hagiographic tomes that idolize the President and venerate the dictatorial Presidents for their constitutional usurpations and assumptions of un-delegated power solidified as precedent. This powerful tome is essentially an anthology of essays offering a critical analysis of the Presidency as an institution, and the various Presidents through the year, as well as an assessment of their policy prerogatives, etc. Most of the authors do not mince words and they hold to a priori presupposition that constitutionally limited government is desirable and offer no apologies in their condemnation of those who usurp it. Some contributors are cynical enough to bluntly declare the utter impossibility of limited government like Hans-Hermann Hoppe. The various contributors include a motley crew of intellectuals from Old Right thinkers, classical liberals, libertarians and southern conservatives. Generally, their harmony of perspective includes advocacy of a non-interventionist foreign policy based on armed neutrality, strategic independence and open commerce, as well as support of a laissez-faire market economy. Amongst the more notable contributors are: John V. Denson (author of The Costs of War: America's Pyrrhic Victories); Marshall L. DeRosa; Thomas J. DiLorenzo (author of the Real Lincoln); Paul Gottfried (author of After Liberalism); Hanns-Herman Hoppe (author of Democracy: The God that Failed); Jeffrey Rogers Hummel (author of Emancipating Slaves, Enslaving Free Men); Joseph R. Stromberg, and Clyde Wilson (editor of John C. Calhoun's papers). One of the more interesting essays penned by Marshall DeRosa is entitled "Supreme Court As Accomplice." It essentially documents judicial backing for what he characterizes as a despotic presidency. He starts by going over history from Old Republic constitutional foundations to a FDR's stacking the court to move the New Deal along. Another interesting piece is featured on the Electoral College. One essay by J.R. Hummel offers a history of an unsung hero, Martin Van Buren, and he wins acclaim chiefly for his advocacy of an independent treasury system where all federal government monies are kept in a federal depository, which is attendant to his opposition to a national bank. Marshall DeRosa and Thomas DiLorenzo offer a slew of indictments against Abraham Lincoln whose administration was characterized by executive usurpation o

Excuse my gushing, but this book is REALLY good

As a student of the presidency, I'm nearly at a loss to describe how interesting and important the essays in this collection are. This high quality is just what I've come to expect from the scholars and writers at the Ludwig von Mises Institute, and if I could give this title six or seven stars, I would.As in any collection of essays, some of the ones here assembled are better than others. Taken as a whole, though, they are a powerful indictment of how the increasing centralization of power in the office of the presidency has resulted in the destruction of America's heritage of individual liberty and decentralized government. Some of the articles that struck me as particularly valuable (or just as fascinating reads) include:* H. Arthur Scott Trask's study of Thomas Jefferson. This is one of the best attempts I've yet seen to grapple with the question, not only of whether Jefferson himself can justly be called a 'libertarian,' but also the specific issue of whether his two terms as president advanced or hindered the cause of liberty.* Marshall L. DeRosa's 'Supreme Court as Accomplice: Judicial Backing for a Despotic Presidency.' While all three branches of government are to blame for the centralization of power in Washington, the Supreme Court has, at key points in history, been particularly destructive. DeRosa gives us chapter and verse.* Randall G. Holcombe's 'The Electoral College as a Restraint on American Democracy.' This article goes beyond other analyses of the Electoral College in explaining how the Founders really intended the body to function, why it never did, and how it was early corrupted and twisted by the influence of party and faction.* William Marina's excellent 'From Opponent of Empire to Career Opportunist: William Howard Taft as Conservative Bureaucrat in the Evolution of the American Imperial System.' In tracing Taft's career, Marina shows how foreign and domestic empire-building inevitably go hand-in-hand. This is an insightful and unexpectedly timely essay.The two concluding essays, by Hans-Hermann Hoppe and Clyde N. Wilson, are also excellent summaries of the changing nature of the presidency and the likelihood, or lack thereof, for meaningful change. Other essays -- including those by Thomas J. DiLorenzo (of 'The Real Lincoln' fame), Ralph Raico, Joseph R. Stromberg, Jeffrey Rogers Hummel, and editor John V. Denson -- are of similar high quality. Space prevents me giving each of them the raves they deserve.Each of these essays challenges the accepted hagiography of the presidency as an office, and of individual presidents as well. The men generally voted by historians as among our 'greatest' chief executives -- notably FDR, Lincoln, and Truman -- are proven in these pages to have been among the worst, most dangerous, and least worthy of canonization. The Mises Institute is never afraid to challenge the old orthodoxies (founder Lew Rockwell has called for the abolition of the office of the presidency altogether), and here


An outstanding work, thought provoking, albeit sometimes disturbing work that should be required reading for any student of American hostory. How many of us really understand the differance between freedom and democracy, or between private enterprse and free enterprise? I expect that most people who affiliate themselves with either of the traditional two American political parties will have little good to say about this work and poo-poo its conclusions (it's called denial, folks). Nevertheless, if you love freedom, if you are proud of America and its Constitution, and if you have an open mind - read this book.

A New Perspective on the Presidency -- And Engaging, Too!

Denson writes with an entirely entertaining style and rapier wit when it comes to his own essays -- giving other fine writers such as Robert Caro (a fine biographer of Lyndon Johnson) a run for their money. Just as valuable as Denson's essays are the contributions of the other authors included in this book. For starters, Denson clearly states the book's thesis and supports it without larding on aimless details, faulty logic, and unsupported opinions such as the stultifying tree-killer and sycophant, Eric Larrabee (vast sections of which cause you to wonder why you are reading it). The first essay, which is an assessment of presidential spending (granting that Congress plays its own role and follows its own agenda) brings some fascinating surprises. Sure to enrage both conservates and what we call "liberals," the co-economist/authors of the first essay reveal some startling facts. For example, Ronald Reagan's spending is more lavish than the much-reviled Clinton's. Furthermore, much-ignored presidents come out on top as the finest managers of the public purse -- with spendthrifts such as FDR, Hoover, Lincoln, and Lyndon Johnson taking their place in debtors' prison at the bottom of the list. Someone should have taken away their credit cards.Even more interesting are the new dimensions of Washington, Madison, and Jefferson that are revealed in the essays of Gordon and Trask. Going far beyond the much-discussed hypocrisy of owning slaves, Jefferson's less-than-stellar personal committment to the principles outlined in his Declaration of Independence include his unconstitutional purchase of the Louisiana Territory, his poor appointments to the Supreme Court, and his strategic failure to rein-in the Hamiltonians as they sought to vastly expand the power of centralized government once they trashed the Articles of Declaration in favor of the very fuzzy statements included in the Constitution -- much to our detriment.The book's treatment of previously ignored presidents even shows why they have been ignored by "conventional" historians. To the power-worshipping "royal" historians that can be counted on to lavish praise on presidents that funnel great gouts of money to the education industry and to other special interest groups that relish spending money earned by other people, the skin-flint presidents and those who don't impose their "vision for America" on the populace have little to offer. But the galvanizing essays of this book depict the endless power plays that transformed the executive branch of government from a more self-regulating branch of government with an adversarial relationship between the president and vice president (balance of power even within the executive) into the imperial presidency of the past 80 years. Our pathetic high school textbooks never indicated the interesting contributions that marked the administrations of these so-called "do-nothing" presidents. For example, the chapters on Lincoln, Wilson, FDR, and Lyndon Johnson sho
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