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Architects of Power

How Roosevelt and Eisenhower transformed the United States into a global superpower.

By Michael Taube / August 10, 2010

Architects of Power: Roosevelt, Eisenhower, and the American Century by Philip Terzian Encounter Books 127 pp., $19.95

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There have been 43 American citizens who have served as president. For historians, academics, and pundits of all political stripes, this select group of political leaders is an endless source of writing material. Unfortunately, the interpretation, reinterpretation, and occasional misinterpretation of presidential histories are growing concerns. We’re often learning today that some of what we read and learned about America’s political leaders in the past wasn’t, well, all that learned to begin with.

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But hope springs eternal. Consider some recent evaluations of George Washington (Richard Brookhiser’s “Founding Father: Rediscovering George Washington”), John Adams (David McCullough’s “John Adams”), Thomas Jefferson (Joseph J. Ellis’s “American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson”), and Franklin Delano Roosevelt (Conrad Black’s “Franklin Delano Roosevelt: Champion of Freedom”). To their credit, these authors have either shed new light on their subject matter, or created a stunning reversal of previously held assumptions about a particular president. That’s great news, as it helps us escape the ideological tsunami and properly analyze commanders in chief according to ability and leadership qualities.

The latest book to add to this impressive list is Philip Terzian’s Architects of Power: Roosevelt, Eisenhower, and the American Century. Terzian is the literary editor of The Weekly Standard, and was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize in Commentary in 1991 while writing for the Providence Journal-Bulletin. Terzian has produced a scintillating analysis of two political polar opposites, FDR and Dwight D. Eisenhower, and proved both men played critical roles in transforming America into a global superpower. (Full disclosure: I know Terzian, and he has edited my contributions to the Standard.)

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