Presidents in Crisis

Tough Decisions inside the White House from Truman to Obama

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About The Book

Every American president, when faced with a crisis, longs to take bold and decisive action. When American lives or vital interests are at stake, the public—and especially the news media and political opponents—expect aggressive leadership. But, contrary to the dramatizations of Hollywood, rarely does a president have that option.

In Presidents in Crisis, a former director of the Situation Room takes the reader inside the White House during seventeen grave international emergencies handled by the presidents from Truman to Obama: from North Korea’s invasion of South Korea to the revolutions of the Arab Spring, and from the thirteen days of the Cuban Missile Crisis to the taking of American diplomats hostage in Iran and George W. Bush’s response to the attacks of September 11, 2001. In narratives that convey the drama of unfolding events and the stakes of confrontation when a misstep can mean catastrophe, he walks us step by step through each crisis. Laying out the key players and personalities and the moral and political calculations that the leaders have had to make, he provides a fascinating insider’s look at modern presidential decision making and the fundamental role in it of human frailty.

Skyhorse Publishing, as well as our Arcade imprint, are proud to publish a broad range of books for readers interested in history--books about World War II, the Third Reich, Hitler and his henchmen, the JFK assassination, conspiracies, the American Civil War, the American Revolution, gladiators, Vikings, ancient Rome, medieval times, the old West, and much more. While not every title we publish becomes a New York Times bestseller or a national bestseller, we are committed to books on subjects that are sometimes overlooked and to authors whose work might not otherwise find a home.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Arcade (February 10, 2015)
  • Length: 368 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781628724318

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Raves and Reviews

"A fascinating study of how presidents handle crises."—Jonathan Karl, chief White House correspondent for ABC News

"Want to know what happened in the White House during the Arab Spring? Michael Bohn has the answer. In a rapid-fire, smoothly flowing narrative, Presidents in Crisis draws succinct but surprisingly comprehensive portraits of every president since World War II, who each faced a succession of hair-raising emergencies. Bohn's conclusions will be of interest to every concerned citizen, and his reconstruction of various crises will remind us of how the old days might not have been so good after all."
—John Prados, author of Keepers of the Keys: A History of the National Security Council

“In Presidents in Crisis Michael Bohn takes us to the molten core of presidential crisis management, revealing why the person on the White House–end of the famous 3 a.m. phone call can seem like the loneliest person on earth.”
—James Kitfield, Senior Fellow, Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress

"A trenchant and fascinating account of how presidents have navigated some of the key foreign policy crises of the post-WW II era. Drawing from interviews with key actors in the crises as well as original archival and secondary accounts, Bohn has woven together what will stand as the most reliable and I believe definitive account of the events the he describes and analyzes in Presidents in Crisis.”
—Mark Rozell, Acting Dean and Professor of Public Policy, School of Policy, Government, and International Affairs, George Mason University

“In riveting accounts of seventeen historic decisions, Michael Bohn calls on his own experience as director of the Situation Room as well as interviews with presidents and other White House staffers to explain why national security crises are seldom as simple or straightforward as they seem from the outside. Everyone, from scholars to citizens, who wants to understand decision making at the highest levels will enjoy reading Bohn’s insights and analyses of presidential crisis management.”
—James Pfiffner, University Professor, School of Policy, Government & International Affairs, George Mason University

“Michael Bohn compellingly argues that bold presidential actions rarely resolve foreign policy crises in satisfactory ways. Bohn’s book offers a persuasive counter-argument to political and pundit demands for presidential military intervention, while also offering valuable insights into the crisis decision making of Presidents Truman through Obama.”
—Denise M. Bostdorff, author of The Presidency and the Rhetoric of Foreign Crisis

“Michael Bohn reminds us that every president since World War II has had to deal with unanticipated crises and that the choices they then face are never easy. His carefully researched book raises doubts about the value of ‘doctrines’ as guides for action, and makes the reader more sympathetic with the cautious, incremental approaches that presidents have often been criticized for following.”
—William B. Quandt, Professor of Politics, Emeritus, University of Virginia

"A fascinating study of how presidents handle crises."—Jonathan Karl, chief White House correspondent for ABC News

"Want to know what happened in the White House during the Arab Spring? Michael Bohn has the answer. In a rapid-fire, smoothly flowing narrative, Presidents in Crisis draws succinct but surprisingly comprehensive portraits of every president since World War II, who each faced a succession of hair-raising emergencies. Bohn's conclusions will be of interest to every concerned citizen, and his reconstruction of various crises will remind us of how the old days might not have been so good after all."
—John Prados, author of Keepers of the Keys: A History of the National Security Council

“In Presidents in Crisis Michael Bohn takes us to the molten core of presidential crisis management, revealing why the person on the White House–end of the famous 3 a.m. phone call can seem like the loneliest person on earth.”
—James Kitfield, Senior Fellow, Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress

"A trenchant and fascinating account of how presidents have navigated some of the key foreign policy crises of the post-WW II era. Drawing from interviews with key actors in the crises as well as original archival and secondary accounts, Bohn has woven together what will stand as the most reliable and I believe definitive account of the events the he describes and analyzes in Presidents in Crisis.”
—Mark Rozell, Acting Dean and Professor of Public Policy, School of Policy, Government, and International Affairs, George Mason University

“In riveting accounts of seventeen historic decisions, Michael Bohn calls on his own experience as director of the Situation Room as well as interviews with presidents and other White House staffers to explain why national security crises are seldom as simple or straightforward as they seem from the outside. Everyone, from scholars to citizens, who wants to understand decision making at the highest levels will enjoy reading Bohn’s insights and analyses of presidential crisis management.”
—James Pfiffner, University Professor, School of Policy, Government & International Affairs, George Mason University

“Michael Bohn compellingly argues that bold presidential actions rarely resolve foreign policy crises in satisfactory ways. Bohn’s book offers a persuasive counter-argument to political and pundit demands for presidential military intervention, while also offering valuable insights into the crisis decision making of Presidents Truman through Obama.”
—Denise M. Bostdorff, author of The Presidency and the Rhetoric of Foreign Crisis

“Michael Bohn reminds us that every president since World War II has had to deal with unanticipated crises and that the choices they then face are never easy. His carefully researched book raises doubts about the value of ‘doctrines’ as guides for action, and makes the reader more sympathetic with the cautious, incremental approaches that presidents have often been criticized for following.”
—William B. Quandt, Professor of Politics, Emeritus, University of Virginia

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