Presidential Leadership Book

Rating the Best and the Worst in the White House

Edited by James Taranto and Leonard Leo
Foreword by William J. Bennett


What makes a president great? The editors from two of America's most prominent institutions, The Wall Street Journal and the Federalist Society, tackle this question with the help of a range of eminent scholars, providing a fascinating and at times surprising ranking of our nation's leaders from Washington to Clinton, including an early assessment of George W. Bush's presidency.

Based on a national survey developed by Northwestern Professors Steven Calabresi and James Lindgren and conducted by the Federalist Society, Presidential Leadership examines the nation's leaders in this collection of refreshing, enlightening essays - one on each president, plus several broader thematic essays on presidential leadership - written by a distinguished and diverse group of historians, journalists, and current and former high-ranking government officials.

Never before in book form has a group of experts of such standing weighed in on the topic of presidential performance. The survey included an illustrious list of both liberal and conservative scholars, balancing the sample to reflect the political makeup of the population as a whole, rather than just of the academy. Essay contributors include renowned historians Forrest McDonald, Douglas Brinkley, and Robert Dallek; government officials Lynne Cheney, John McCain, and Kenneth Starr; and journalists Michael Barone, Fred Barnes, and Peggy Noonan. Through their compelling essays, as well as basic data and rankings, the best and worst of the Commanders in Chief are examined and analyzed in this fresh and engaging work.

Combining statistical information with an all-star team of scholars, Presidential Leadership is a lively, provocative, solidly based work that serves as both a valuable reference and a tremendously readable collection.

James Taranto has been editor of, the website of The Wall Street Journal's editorial page, since its inception in 2000. He lives in New York City.

Leonard Leo is executive vice president of the Federalist Society. He lives in Washington, DC