Architects of Power: Roosevelt, Eisenhower, and the American Century
Because all ages manipulate the past to suit their needs, these two presidents, who governed at the height of American supremacy, have had their legacies to some degree distorted of late, at a time when the elite is apologetic about American dominance and frankly doubts its prospects. In Architects of Power, a short, elegant and incisive study, Philip Terzian, the literary editor of The Weekly Standard, sets out to write a corrective …. Putting Roosevelt and Eisenhower together is itself a deft device.
–Robert D. Kaplan, author
Delivering a magisterial account of Franklin Roosevelt’s and Dwight Eisenhower’s roles in World War II, situated within their separate lives and presidencies, may seem an outright impossibility in the space of 100 pages. Yet it is what Philip Terzian has done in Architects of Power. This brief volume will do more to correct current misperceptions than anything since Roosevelt became simply the polio victim who launched the New Deal, and Eisenhower the reluctant, anti-war soldier who inveighed against the military-industrial complex on his way out of office. Terzian has no time for any of this—and neither, after this brief tour de force, should any reader …. Terzian possesses a capacity for aphoristic compression almost Johnsonian in its elegance …. There are endless pleasures in this book. One is the remarkable command of an enormous sweep of history, which allows Terzian confidently to agree with or toss aside the very-hard-won theories of previous historians.
–Saul Rosenberg, New York Sun
"[Philip] Terzian has produced a scintillating analysis of two political polar opposites, FDR and Dwight D. Eisenhower, and proved both men played critical roles in transforming America into a global superpower .... Long story short, 'Architects of Power' is going to rewrite the history books in a dramatic fashion. The old tall tales of FDR as a socialist New Dealer who wanted to tear apart the American fabric, and Eisenhower as a simple-minded army general who barely understood politics, have come to an end. Thanks to Terzian, these men now share a common goal most Americans will admire: the desire to make their country the greatest power the world has ever seen."
–The Christian Science Monitor
Terzian, literary editor of the Weekly Standard, describes the impact of Franklin Roosevelt and Dwight Eisenhower on the dramatic transformation of the United States from a relatively quiet secondary position in the world to its current “hyperpower” status. Though vastly different in upbringing and early experiences, Roosevelt and Eisenhower shared, says Terzian, a firm belief in American resources and American capabilities. Each managed to direct his personal ambition toward projecting and protecting the best interests of his country and, through intelligence, ability, and charm, provided leadership to a world in need of fresh ideas and firm responses. Roosevelt understood that American prosperity depended not only on American security but on the security of the world as a whole, and Eisenhower grasped the fact that calm analysis of various crises and a meaningful doctrine of peace through strength would ensure the continuation of that security. This regrettably too brief essay makes its point that the 20th century was indeed “the American century” and that America’s rise to leadership, even with the flaws inherent in that leadership, has produced great benefits for the global community.
A well-argued, engagingly written, and highly thought-provoking book … In witty and perceptive compressed biographies of the two presidents, Terzian … shows how superficially dissimilar [Roosevelt and Eisenhower] were, yet how much their rejection of isolationism overlapped.
–Andrew Roberts, Commentary
Philip Terzian takes strands of biographical and historical fact from which many assume all enlightenment and import have long since been wrung and weaves from these a strikingly original, wholly elucidating tapestry.
–Shawn Macomber, The Washington Times
I dare you to put down this pithy little book once you have started it. And how often can that be said about books dealing with matters of state? At a moment when blather about the American imperium has reached epidemic proportions, it’s refreshing to find such a lucid and persuasive account of how American “engagement with the world has evolved.”
–John Wilson, Christianity Today
Loyal readers of these pages fondly remember [Philip] Terzian’s tart and elegant writing from his days as editorial page editor … of the Journal …. Terzian delivers fewer stiletto wounds than usual in this remarkably brief account … of a very broad topic: the development of American foreign policy in the 20th century. But the writing is as graceful as always, the details bright and fascinating, the argument sound.
–Edward Achorn, The Providence Journal
Don’t judge Philip Terzian’s Architects of Power by its cover—or by the fact that just 127 pages, including bibliography and index, separate its front and back covers. There’s a lot to ponder in this accessible, thoughtful book.
–Alan Wallace, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Though my old friend is decidedly right of center, his fairness and rigorous scholarship have crafted a portrait of the two presidents that reveals zero ideology.
–H. Brandt Ayers, The Anniston Star
Richard Norton Smith–
The volume may be slender, but the ideas with which it grapples are as large as the American Century. This shrewd, persuasive double portrait captures two of the century’s most influential—and elusive—leaders. Moving beyond stale debates over FDR’s health at Yalta and the subtlety of Ike’s Cold War policies, Terzian recasts each man as an architect of the world we inhabit. Compelling history, gracefully written and hard to put down.
Some books are most needed at certain times. And this is the right time to read of Franklin Roosevelt and Dwight Eisenhower, widely dissimilar men of similar conviction and political talent. Philip Terzian’s elegant essay weaves their lives into a fascinating story of how they guided America into global dominance.
Edwin M. Yoder, Jr.–
In this brief and astute study Philip Terzian has reframed the lives and purposes of two American statesmen who, in their different capacities, led this country to a resolute acceptance of global power and responsibility. It is an important contribution to our understanding of 20th century history and, no less, its continuing resonances today.
Alonzo L. Hamby–
In this compact, but rich, study Philip Terzian elegantly dissects the personalities and principles of the two major founders of the post-World War II American imperium: Franklin Roosevelt, a homegrown aristocrat who led the Democratic party into a new epoch of global responsibility; and Dwight Eisenhower, a common democrat who reconciled the Republican part to the new era’s existence. He also provides a thoughtful meditation on the continuing tension in the American psyche between the compelling need for an American century and the deeply rooted recoil from it.