The Hardest Job in the World is a book about the presidency as it is and not as we imagine it to be. I finished before Covid-19 hit, but one of its arguments is that the presidency is a job where the president must prepare for emergency shocks with high stakes long before they ever arrive, because once they do, it’s too late to cobble together a response. It’s also about how candidates, the public and those of us who report and comment on campaigns are trained by political combat into thinking of the office in a way that undermines the office. It offers some notions about how we got here and how we might move to a better place.
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If you would like a signed bookplate (the image on the right) it was designed by Happy Menocal.I will sign it and send it to you and you can then paste it in the book, on the fridge or on your cat.
Please follow the instructions below and I will send one to you. You will enjoy it and a little peace will fall upon this earth.
Please take these steps:
1. Buy the book. Click here to purchase from your favorite on-line sellers:
2. Send me an email with some kind of proof. Send to: DickersonLatest@gmail.com
3. Include your address in the email so I know where to send the bookplate.
4. Let me know if a special inscription is preferred. I will try to accommodate requests.
5. Limber up for the walk to the post box where some time soon I will send you a signed book plate for each purchased book.
We have some reviews:
“This is a wonderful ‘inside’ look at the difficult act of being the president of the United States. It is told with grace and insight by a man who not only knows his subject—he understands it. This is a great gift to our sense of the actual presidency, a primer on leadership, and, of course, of necessity, a reflection on failure.”—Ken Burns, award-winning filmmaker
“From one of our closest students of the presidency, John Dickerson’s thoughtful, learned, original, shrewd, comprehensive, up-to-the-minute book, full of wisdom and personal observations, could not be more needed than at this moment in American history.”—Michael Beschloss
“Brilliantly chronicles what the American presidency has meant, what it could mean . . . With wit, sweep, and unfailing generosity, The Hardest Job in the World is a book for our times, informed and delightful and definitely not to be missed.”—Brenda Wineapple, author of The Impeachers: The Trial of Andrew Johnson and the Dream of a Just Nation
“60 Minutes correspondent Dickerson takes an evenhanded and insightful look at the evolution of the American presidency… Drawing on illuminating interviews with former White House officials and presidential historians, Dickerson packs the book with intriguing arcana and colorful quotes…This entertaining history rises above the political fray to cast even the most maligned chief executives in a new light.” —Publishers Weekly
“What if the problem isn’t the president – it’s the presidency?” That’s the smart question Dickerson posed his essay in The Atlantic a while back, and it’s the one with which the 60 Minutes correspondent grapples in his fascinating new book. Dickerson has a gift for effectively mixing anecdote and history, as he did so well in Whistlestop: My Favorite Stories from Presidential Campaign History, and he does it again in his rich chronicle of the American presidency. The qualities required of a good candidate differ from that of a great president, and Dickerson makes a convincing case for reforming the job, which is radically different from how it was conceived by the founders.” The National Book Review
The book will join bookstore shelves June 16. Just in time for Father’s Day! Also suitable to give as a part of Breathing Humans Day when all good people are encouraged to give themselves and those they love a contemporary book.
About that picture on the cover. The photograph was taken by Jack E. Kightlinger late on the evening of July 31, 1968. Lyndon Johnson is listening to a report on the progress of the Vietnam war. There is a tape player just out of the frame spinning two reels of thin brown tape. The president is listening to a report from his son-in-law Chuck Robb, a Marine fighting in Vietnam. Johnson had asked Robb to send back reports on what was really happening in the conflict. *
The reports were grim, but that wasn’t all that was ruining LBJ’s life at the time. Not many blocks from the White House, Washington D.C.’s poorest neighborhoods were convulsing. Racial tensions caused riots all over the country. In that same year, Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King had been assassinated. Johnson must have felt like no matter how bad things seemed there was more woe to come. (All of this is recounted in a book that also uses that photograph for its cover by Kyle Longley. It’s on LBJ and 1968).
*Robb, who had met Johnson’s daughter Lynda while serving as a military aide at the White House would go on to serve as Governor of Virginia and Senator from the same state. I rode on the school bus with his daughter. That fact is not included in the book.