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TheFailureof ExecutivePower VaughnDavis Bornet. The Presidency of Lrndon B. Johnson. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1983.415+ xvi pp. Robert H.Ferrell, ed. The Diary of JamesC.Hagerty: Eisenhower in Mid-Course, 1954-1955. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1983.269+ xvi pp. Burton I. Kaufman. Trade and Aid: Eisenhower sForeign Economic Policy 1953-1961. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1982.279+ xi pp. Richard L. Schott and Dagmar S. Hamilton. People,Positions, and Power: The Political Appointments of Lyndon Johnson. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1983.245 + x pp. James E. Underwood and William J. Daniels. GovernorRockefeller in New York: TheApex of Pragmatic Liberalism in the United States. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1982.335+ xvi pp. James Oliver Robertson All five of these books are about American political leaders, their power, their policies, their behavior, their followers. All celebrate the power of men in executive office who were determined to rule in a nation with a tradition of representative democracy and some (perhaps vestigial) democratic institutions. They focus on the long presidencies of the 1950s and 1960sEisenhower 's and Johnson's-and on Nelson Rockefeller's fifteen-year governorship of New York (1959-74). By their published existence as a few out of hundreds of volumes on the same subjects, they are monuments to the power of the "cult of personality" and the imperial executive in modern American life. Even the single volume of the five which is focused on policy, Trade and Aid, is concerned, as its subtitle assures us, with Eisenhower's foreigneconomic policy, not with America's or Congress' or the government's. Government in America, as these books clearly indicate, has become the exercise of legislative, administrative and policy-making power by executive leaders and the people surrounding them. The first of these books, The Diary of James C.Hagerty, edited byRobert H. Ferrell, is in some respects the most interesting. It is the only diary so far published of an intimate of Eisenhower when he was President. Hagerty was both Press Secretary and confidant. Eisenhower trusted him, as Ferrell points out and the entries make clear; he also liked to try out ideas on Hagerty, both for policies and politics. The diary as a result is tantalizing: it Canadian Review of American Studies, Volume 16, Number 4, Winter 1985,465-473 466 James Oliver Robertson holds out the promise of revelations which will explain the mind and answer many of the questions surrounding the character and policies of Eisenhower. Hagerty's diary starts on 1 January 1954, possibly as the result of a New Year's resolution, and it ends in January 1956,with very few entries after the beginning of April 1955. While it is reasonably full of summaries of conversations with Eisenhower and of observations of the people and events that surrounded him, its short span prevents significant insight either into the growth of the President or the development of administration policy. As Ferrell (who also edited Eisenhower's diaries) points out, an extensive diary bya "right hand man,,would have been an excellent guide to the administration. Unfortunately, Hagerty's diary is too short. Ferrell has reduced the volume of the diary for publication. His explanation of the criteria he used-principally that he deleted issues "that no longer affect policy" and "issues in which present-day readers have little interest" - and his note that the Eisenhower Library will copy parts of the original for a "minimum fee," are generally reassuring that the material omitted is inconsequential. But Ferrell's notes summarizing deleted text are sometimes real teasers; they make one aware how awkward sending for the full text would be. There are glimpses in Hagerty's diary of Eisenhower as an effective, thoughtful and calculating political leader. As he was about to meet Syngman Rhee of Korea, for example, Eisenhower told Hagerty that "you have to admire his patriotism and his steadfast determination to bring about the unification of his country, but we cannot permit him to involve the United States in a war with Asia" (p. 101).In the crisis over Quemoy and Matsu, off the coast of China, late in 1954, Eisenhower made it clear that he...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1710-114X
Print ISSN
0007-7720
Pages
pp. 465-473
Launched on MUSE
2019-01-02
Open Access
No
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