236 pages | 15 B/W Illus.
Crises pose a challenge to leaders beyond any other tests they confront. In this comprehensive and timely book, veteran journalist Kenneth T. Walsh offers a probing look at how presidents from Franklin D. Roosevelt to Donald Trump dealt with crises they faced. Including domestic as well as international issues and assassination attempts, this book stands apart from other accounts of presidents in crisis. Walsh is in search of lessons we can learn, and his findings focus on the presidential attributes and skills that matter most in trying times. This expertly crafted, elegantly written book is appropriate for a variety of college courses and will find its way onto the reading lists of ambitious politicians and interested citizens alike.
Praise for Presidential Leadership in Crisis
"Having dealt with crisis in the White House and maybe created one or two on my own, I appreciate Ken Walsh’s informative review of how presidents respond to something nearly inevitable in their tenures: dealing with all the things that disrupt and challenge the normal course of business. Crisis and dealing with it might be a new normal for presidents, but it requires the best and smartest efforts of our nation’s chief executive."
—Mike McCurry, White House Press Secretary (1995–98) and Director/Professor, Center for Public Theology, Wesley Theological Seminary
"Ken Walsh nails it again as an award winning journalist and an astute student of presidents and the presidency. Ken provides valuable presidential leadership lessons especially in times of crisis."
—Kenneth M. Duberstein, White House Chief of Staff (1988–89)
"For those who write about politics, direct experience matters, and so does a knowledge of history. Ken Walsh has an unusual amount of both, which is why he has been able to offer such an insightful account of crises that American presidents from Lincoln to Trump have faced. Incoming presidents would do well to read this book before they take office."
—William A. Galston, Senior Fellow, The Brookings Institution
"It has been said that only the 'big things' (war and peace, economic downturns, terrorist attacks) go directly to the president. Lesser matters are handled at lower levels. In this highly readable book, Ken Walsh, one of the nation’s shrewdest observers of presidents and the presidency, takes readers on a tour of how fourteen presidents resolved crises that came their way and how a fifteenth, Donald Trump—who regards crises as the norm rather than the exception—has incorporated them into his management style. Anyone interested in how power is exercised will come away enriched by tales Walsh tells of both success and failure at the highest level of the American government."
—Alvin S. Felzenberg, author of The Leaders We Deserved (and Some We Didn't): Rethinking the Presidential Rating Game and A Man and His Presidents: The Political Biography of William F. Buckley, Jr.
About the Author
Chapter One: Abraham Lincoln: The Nation’s Worst Crisis
Chapter Two: Franklin D. Roosevelt: The Great Depression
Chapter Three: Harry Truman: The Battle with Douglas MacArthur
Chapter Four: Dwight Eisenhower: The U-2 Mission
Chapter Five: John F. Kennedy: The Cuban Missile Crisis
Chapter Six: Lyndon B. Johnson: The War in Vietnam and Reelection
Chapter Seven: Richard M. Nixon: The Watergate Scandal and National Disgrace
Chapter Eight: Gerald R. Ford: The Pardon
Chapter Nine: Jimmy Carter: The Iranian Hostage Crisis
Chapter Ten: Ronald Reagan: A Matter of Life and Death
Chapter Eleven: George H.W. Bush: The Persian Gulf War
Chapter Twelve: Bill Clinton: Impeachment and Scandal
Chapter Thirteen: George W. Bush: 9/11 and the Global War on Terror
Chapter Fourteen: Barack Obama: Ending the “Great Recession”
Chapter Fifteen: Donald Trump: A New Era of Perpetual Crisis