Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Joseph S. Nye, Jr.'s "Presidential Leadership and the Creation of the American Era"

Joseph S. Nye, Jr. is University Distinguished Service Professor and former dean of the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. His books include Soft Power, The Powers to Lead, and The Future of Power. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a member of the American Academy of Diplomacy.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Presidential Leadership and the Creation of the American Era, and reported the following:
During the 20th century, the United States went from being a second rate power to becoming the world's sole superpower. Why? Was it all in the cards because of structural factors like geography and economy, or did leaders make a difference? I answer that question in Presidential Leadership and the Creation of the American Era. In about half the cases I examined, the presidents mattered, but not necessarily those that one might expect. Leadership experts distinguish transformational leaders with broad visions and an inspirational style (such as Woodrow Wilson or Ronald Reagan) from transactional leaders (like Dwight Eisenhower or George H.W. Bush) who have modest vision and a managerial style. The experts and editorialists generally prefer transformational leaders and consider them both more effective and more ethical. But in this book, I reached the counter conventional conclusion that this preference for transformational leaders is not justified. Regarding effectiveness, I do a counterfactual history of the century that asks what would have happened if a given leader had not been president and the next most likely candidate had been instead. And regarding ethics, I set up scorecards to judge the ethics of the major leaders who presided over the creation of the American era. Page 99 lays out my criteria for judging ethical foreign policy leadership before I go on to apply them in case studies of eight presidents. So it is not a bad place to start!
Learn more about Presidential Leadership and the Creation of the American Era at the Princeton University Press website.

Also see: Joseph Nye's top five books on global power.

Writers Read: Joseph S. Nye (August 2007).

--Marshal Zeringue