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Where Power Stops: The Making and Unmaking of Presidents and Prime Ministers

David Runciman

5 Reviews

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Politics & government

David Runciman grapples with how character defines and limits the holders of the highest offices in the UK and America

Lyndon Baines Johnson, Margaret Thatcher, Bill Clinton, Tony Blair, Barack Obama, Gordon Brown, Theresa May, and Donald Trump: each had different motivations, methods, and paths, but they all sought the highest office. And yet when they reached their goal, they often found that the power they had imagined was illusory. Their
sweeping visions of reform faltered. They faced bureaucratic obstructions, but often the biggest obstruction was their own character.

However, their personalities could help them as much as hurt them. Arguably the most successful of them, LBJ showed little indication that he supported what he is best known for - the Civil Rights Act - but his grit, resolve, and brute political skill saw him bend Congress to his will.

David Runciman tackles the limitations of high office and how the personal histories of those who achieved the very pinnacles of power helped to define their successes and failures in office. These portraits show what characters are most effective in these offices. Could this be a blueprint for good and effective leadership in an age lacking good leaders?

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Praise for Where Power Stops: The Making and Unmaking of Presidents and Prime Ministers

  • Praise for How Democracy Ends

  • 'Presented in pellucid prose free of the jargon of academic political science, How Democracy Ends is a strikingly readable and richly learned contribution to understanding the world today ... surely one of the most luminously intelligent books on politics to have been published for many years. - New Statesman

  • Bracingly intelligent...a wonderful read' - Guardian

  • Full of intriguing new lines of thought' - FT

  • Refreshingly, rather than a knickertwisting diatribe about Trump and Brexit, Runciman offers a thoughtful analysis about what popular democracy means, and its alternatives.' - Spectator

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