Read what some of America's most astute commentators say about the Presidents. Remember is it just man's opinion :)
Given the structure of the survey method used to rank US Presidents, specifically the relative weighting between presumably liberal and conservative historians, I was looking forward to reading objective essays describing each president. The essays of many of the Presidents are objective but many are not. In fact some are downright confusing. While most of the essays were truly enlightening and fascinating, too many were biased or one-sided.
I was looking forward to understanding why the lowest ranked Presidents were judged so poorly. Many of these essays were written by true believers who attempted to explain why these men were underrated and deserving of a higher rank. The top ranked Presidents were presented more clearly, but not all. Given that FDR, in current times, is loved by liberals and hated by conservatives (or what passes for a conservative in this Country these days), I was hoping for a truly dispassionate assessment of his strengths and shortcomings. Why did the editors ask Robert Bork to write about this man? Was it to guarantee a one-sided view. After stating that everyone agrees on Washington and Lincoln as the two best Presidents, Bork adds that FDR generally comes up third because there doesn't seem to be anyone else to choose from. Weird and fuzzy logic for someone who might have been a Supreme Court Justice. Bork seems incapable of admitting that FDR had any positive accomplishments at all, but finds fault in nearly every act of this President.
Peggy Noonan promises to make a valiant effort to take an objective view of JFK, but gets all tangled up in psychoanalyzing his fears and forgets to give an assessment of his accomplishments and failures.
Fortunately there were many highlights. Learning why James Polk may be the most underrated President was fascinating. John McCain gets my vote for the greatest objectivity in his clearly written essay or Theodore Roosevelt. There are many Presidents who are hardly remembered at all, whose elements of greatness emerge from well-written essays. Most rewarding for me was the sense of intelligence and purpose that the founders had of creating "a more perfect union." The reader gets a glimpse into the earnestness of their ideals and the depth of their study of the history and politics of their times to create a great nation.
The book is definitely worth reading for what you can learn about our Presidents, but suffers from the editors association with The Federalist Society and its ideological bias.