Cover Image: The Hardest Job in the World

The Hardest Job in the World

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Member Reviews

This was such an interesting read! I haven't read many books about the presidency of the United States, but personally I found this one to be very engaging and digestible to the average reader. I also appreciate how this didn't read like a typical history or government textbook -- Dickerson presents how the office of the U.S. presidency has evolved over time, but he also describes how and why the mechanisms of this station require a significant change. Overall, an informative and thought-provoking read!
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The book The Hardest Job in the World tells the history of how the role of the presidency has changed throughout its history and how the job has become much more powerful than the Founding Fathers intended. Dickerson describes how different elements of the job description of the president developed over time. The book largely stays away from partisan critiques of past presidents - recent presidents from both parties both receive credit and blame for their decisions. While I agree with the ideas presented in this book for how to improve the role of the presidency, I think it is still a bit too idealistic. I could see this book be used effectively in a class on government/ethics to teach about the roles of the various branches of government. 

I received a free copy of this book on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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I have to give the author and A for effort. He tried to bring the historical context of the American Presidency into a type of review. How one campaigns to be president, how one changes once you become president and see the actual responsibilities, and the current state of the presidency. 
I enjoyed reading this, but I think that the immense nature of the subject matter is way to complex to describe in a single book. It is just to difficult to distill down this much.
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Fascinating look into what makes an effective president by citing numerous examples. I like how Dickerson compared and contrasted different presidents in how they handled particular issues, such as foreign policy. I would have liked to have seen more organization with the chapters. Perhaps having one chapter dedicated to each president, or by going in chronological order with each chapter would help with this because the book was confusing to read at times. Overall though, an excellent and informative book!
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This is quite good, particularly since the author tries to be objective and not give preference to one party. I think this is a unique idea -- bringing together presidential info in this way. The perspective here will likely change with time, but for now it's an interesting take on the challenges and perspectives of the office. Recommended.

It might be interesting to read this along with The Gatekeepers by Chris Whipple (perspectives from the White House Chief of Staffs). I also hope the author does an updated version in 2030 or so.

I really appreciate the ARC for review!!
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An informative exploration of the office of the president and it actually means to perform ones duties as the President of the United States of America. The author mostly ignores political preferences and discern the nuances expected and needed to be an effective president. Numerous examples are cited to provide evidence for the reader, and every facet of the office is examined. I am curious to see how some of the proclamations in this book evolve through our next few presidential elections.
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Writing a book on the office of the president incorporating the current presidency within the historical context is quite a task.  John Dickerson's "The Hardest Job in the World" tackles three major components: the responsibilities of the president once s/he is in office, the campaigning to get elected to the presidency, and the world of the presidency in its current state. There is a lot of ground to cover in this book. Dickerson begins by describing historically what the office of president has stood for, in that it is so often based on tradition, customs, and the large deference to the office by those who hold it and the public. He gives a historical take on how the office has changed, focusing primarily on the 20th century presidents, but then giving context on how it has changed significantly with the Trump presidency. 

One theme that Dickerson returns back to frequently in the book to give context on the president's job is the four quadrant matrix that Eisenhower used to help prioritize tasks. Is it urgent/important? It must be done immediately. It is not urgent/important? Schedule a time to do it. Is it urgent, but not important? Delegate. If it's not urgent and not important, don't do it. 

Because there is no much to cover in this book, the focus is a somewhat diffuse, and there is not always a logical flow between chapters/topics. Some area that are explored could (and have) been their own books (e.g., role of chief of staff, how the relationship with Congress has changed, the relationship with the press). The first third of the book that delves into the responsibilities of the president is the most interesting, and provides the best historical context on how the position has changed through the years. What is unfortunate (no fault to Dickerson), is that in the time of Trump, so many of these gradual changes in the position have sped forward leaps and bounds, lessening the interesting view on how the position had slowly been changing. Trump's actions as president have thrown a wrench a bit into this. The second part of the book focuses on the presidential campaign, which the big takeaway being you cannot president as you campaign. Dickerson wrote a wonderful book about campaign stories (Whistlestop) that is a much more enjoyable take on this step to the presidency.

The final section of the book is about how the presidency currently is in the Trump presidency. This took away from the overall historical role of the job that Dickerson spent so much time on in the first section. It would be curious to have read this book either prior to the Trump presidency, or post-presidency. In its current state, with moving pieces (e.g., the strong state of the economy discussed in the book has now been decimated by COVID-19), it is hard to provide final context. Will this presidency be an anomaly? Or has it moved the role of the president in a way that it will never be the same?

Dickerson ends the book with attributes that a president moving forward should have, which, bless his heart. We shall see.
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