Think You Know Which Presidents Were Great and Why? Think Again!: News Releases: The Independent Institute

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News Release
December 5, 2008

Think You Know Which Presidents Were Great and Why? Think Again!
New Book Ranks the Men Who Have Led This Country and Turns Traditional Standards Upside Down

“ . . . this insightful and crucial book provides an inspiring vision for both conservatives and liberals on the crucial need to rein in White House power and restore peace, prosperity, and liberty.”
Ron Paul, U. S. Congressman

OAKLAND, Calif., Dec. 5, 2008—The past eight years have seen an enormous rise in U.S. foreign interventionism, record-breaking levels of federal spending, greatly expanded police powers, and a stubborn economic malaise punctuated by financial crises. As President-elect Barack Obama prepares for his move to the White House in the wake of a protracted campaign season, what strategies should his administration be developing to help the U.S. change course? What lessons can be learned from the past to inform a new model for Washington? Finally, what are American values and how does a “good” president espouse and advance them?

In Recarving Rushmore: Ranking the Presidents on Peace, Prosperity, and Liberty (January 9, 2009 / The Independent Institute / $25.00), Senior Fellow Ivan Eland, Director of the Center on Peace and Liberty, presents a novel and insightful approach to answering these questions by assessing the real records of the presidents and ranking each based on his adherence to the Constitution and his efforts to promote peace, prosperity, and liberty.

While most scholars focus on superficial personality characteristics and the efficacy with which presidents wielded government power, Dr. Eland urges Americans to consider the intentions and values of the Founding Fathers when judging presidential merits. He rates concrete values and accomplishments above mere charisma and political influence. He examines whether determined executives could have avoided historic military confrontations instead of pursuing idealistic but costly activism during times of national crisis.

The framers of the Constitution originally envisioned “a limited federal government with an appropriately constrained executive” which functions primarily to support the growth of peace, prosperity, and liberty. Eland meticulously examines each president’s record in these three categories, assigning scores in each area that cumulatively determine the president's ranking. Surprising conclusions ensue. For example, could “Silent Cal” Calvin Coolidge have been more successful in protecting American values than Franklin Delano Roosevelt? Chapter by chapter, Eland challenges the very basis of popular assumptions about the good and the bad of the U.S. presidency.

Recarving Rushmore thus traces the expansion of federal government and executive power throughout our nation's history. Often it is the traditionally revered presidents who have most contributed to this trend: Thomas Jefferson,

Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, and Harry Truman all adopted policies that led to unnecessary bloodshed, permanently expanded executive powers, and periodic economic hardship.

We must be wary of executives who disregard the values of peace, prosperity, and liberty upon which the U.S. was founded. Lauded as “intriguing” by the Washington Times, Mr. Eland's book is a must-read for anyone who cares about the future of the American Republic.

Praise for Recarving Rushmore

“Well-written and fascinating, Recarving Rushmore provides a long-overdue reassessment of the actual record of all U.S. presidents. Thanks to Ivan Eland’s efforts, the traditional classroom narrative of our ‘great presidents’ and their glorious deeds lies in well-deserved ruin.”
Thomas E. Woods, Jr., Senior Fellow, Ludwig von Mises Institute; author, The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History and 33 Questions About American History You’re Not Supposed to Ask

Recarving Rushmore is colorful, entertaining, and profound. Ivan Eland shatters the grand illusion that great presidents are those who wage war or deprive people of their liberty, either here or abroad. The new ‘gold standard’ for measuring presidential performance, this book upends what we ‘know’ about ‘Great’ presidents and will challenge your view of political history, one president at a time.”
Jonathan Bean, Professor of History, Southern Illinois University

“Eland engagingly shows why the conventional wisdom on the American presidency is all wrong and why presidents like Van Buren, Arthur, and Harding in fact ably advanced the nation’s interest, while iconic names like Lincoln, the two Roosevelts, and Wilson caused serious harm. Recarving Rushmore is must reading.”
Richard K. Vedder, Distinguished Professor of Economics and Faculty Associate, Contemporary History Institute, Ohio University

“With the righteous chisel of liberty, Ivan Eland chips away at the war-making, state-building ‘great’ presidents and sculpts an alternative gallery of America’s finest chief executives—men of peace, of liberty, of a becoming modesty. Down with Wilson and the Bushes; hail to Grover Cleveland, Martin Van Buren, and John Tyler!”
William Kauffman, former Associate Editor, American Enterprise; author, Ain’t My America: The Long, Noble History of Anti-War Conservatism and Middle American Anti-Imperialism

“According to American historians, the best presidents are the ones who get us into the biggest wars, impose the most interventionist economic policies, and trample civil liberties by expanding executive power beyond what the Constitution permits. The more European-style fascism the better seems to be their criterion. That’s why Lincoln and FDR are always at the top of their lists. In Recarving Rushmore, Ivan Eland makes a novel proposal: Why not rank presidents according to the traditional American values of peace, prosperity and liberty? Read this important new book and find out why John Tyler may be America’s greatest president!”
Thomas DiLorenzo, Professor of Economics, Loyola College in Maryland; author of The Real Lincoln and Hamilton’s Curse

Recarving Rushmore: Ranking the Presidents on Peace, Prosperity, and Liberty
By Ivan Eland
Published by The Independent Institute
January 9, 2009 | Hardcover | 496 pages | $25.00 | ISBN 978-1-59813-022-5

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