Book cover of: The Leaders We Deserved (and a Few We Didn't): Rethinking the Presidential Rating Game

The Leaders We Deserved (and a Few We Didn't): Rethinking the Presidential Rating Game By Alvin S. Felzenberg


It’s a perennial pastime to compare U.S. presidents, but our current ranking systems are riddled with flaws. In The Leaders We Deserved (and a Few We Didn’t), Alvin Stephen Felzenberg offers logical categories of measuring presidential performance—character, vision, competence, legacy, and so on—while assessing, for each, the best and worst we’ve seen.

A fresh and imaginative look at how our presidents stack up against one another, The Leaders We Deserved (and a Few We Didn’t) uniquely deliberates on the standard “greats” of our country’s history, giving them the critical consideration they deserve.

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Praise for A Man and His Presidents: The Political Odyssey of William F. Buckley Jr.

See that twenty dollar bill in your wallet? If Al Felzenberg has  his way, Andrew Jackson will no longer be decorating it. His book looks at every president from George Washington to ‘W’, and reshuffles their reputations in surprising ways.

Richard Brookhiser, biographers of Washington, Hamilton, and other “founders"

This book goes beyond the parlor game of rating presidents and dips deeply into what qualities truly matter. By dong so, Al Felzenberg has produced a smart and fascinating look at the impact our great presidents have had.

Walter Isaacson. biographer of Leonardo Da Vinci, Steve Jobs, Albert Einstein and others

Alvin Felzenberg puts Lincoln and several other presidents in the full context of their times and ours, shedding much new light on those we thought we knew well, and taking a fresh look at some we need to know better. The sections on Abraham Lincoln, the most elusive of all presidents, adds much to the field of Lincoln studies and should not be missed.

Harold Holzer, Lincoln scholar

This book sets a new standard, not only for presidential studies, but for leadership studies generally. In an enlightening and entertaining fashion, Felzenberg lays bare how and why some presidents have translated vision into transformational and sustainable action while others have not. For political scientists and anyone else who thinks understanding leadership matters, this book is not only must-reading, but must-knowledge.

John Di’Iulio, Jr., Frederick Fox Leadership Professor, University of Pennsylvania

Alvin Felzenberg has written an incisive, readable book in which he offers detailed evaluations of presidents according to several key criteria. His writings contain some surprises, with which not everyone will agree, but all readers will be stimulated and will come away better informed than before.

James McPherson, Professor Emeritus, Princeton University and author of Battle Cry of Freedom

Alvin S. Felzenberg is not just some guy seated at the end of the bar, mouthing off about what he thinks he has learned from the History Channel and C-SPAN3. He has been a state and federal government official (most recently for the 9-11 Commission) congressional staffer, Republican political activist, biographer, essayist, and commentator, with a doctorate in politics from Princeton.  But he is not a historian, and The Leaders We Deserved and a Few We Didn’t is, in essence, a rebuttal to academic historians, who, until now, have dominated the ratings racket under the direction of the Arthur M. Schlesingers, pere and fils.  “A nuanced look at where the nation’s chief executives stood out and where they stumbled.

Robert Novak, The Weekly Standard, Pittsburgh Gazette

This is a fun book that serves up the first systematic and rational approach to evaluating our presidents-past, present, and future. It is highly entertaining and almost certain to raise a few eyebrows.

Tucson Citizen

Alvin S. Felzenberg is not just some guy seated at the end of the bar, mouthing off about what he thinks he has learned from the History Channel and C-SPAN3. He has been a state and federal government official (most recently for the 9-11 Commission) congressional staffer, Republican political activist, biographer, essayist, and commentator, with a doctorate in politics from Princeton.  But he is not a historian, and The Leaders We Deserved and a Few We Didn’t is, in essence, a rebuttal to academic historians, who, until now, have dominated the ratings racket under the direction of the Arthur M. Schlesingers, pere and fils.  “A nuanced look at where the nation’s chief executives stood out and where they stumbled.

National Review