Presidential scholar Robert Dallek examines why some presidents succeed and others do not in the keynote speech of the Library's Presidential Series on Tuesday, March 13, 2012, at 6:30 p.m. at the Plaza Branch, 4801 Main St.
The Presidential Series is presented by the Kansas City Public Library and the Truman Library Institute.
Of the 44 presidents, only 16 have been re-elected and only 13 served for a full eight years (Abraham Lincoln and William McKinley were assassinated and Richard Nixon resigned before completing their second terms). That fact, Dallek says, speaks volumes about how difficult it is to be a successful president.
In his talk, The Making and Unmaking of 20th Century Presidents, Dallek looks at the elements he believes are the most important determinants of a president's effectiveness or failure: vision, pragmatism, charisma, trust, consensus, and (not least) luck.
He reveals how those determinants played out in the administrations of Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Herbert Hoover, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, and Ronald Reagan.
Dallek, a retired professor of history at Boston University, now teaches courses at Stanford University. He also has taught at Columbia University, the University of California, Los Angeles, and Oxford. He is the author of many books of history, including The Roosevelt Diplomacy and World War Il, Ronald Reagan: The Politics of Symbolism, Lessons from the Lives and Times of Presidents, Nixon and Kissinger: Partners in Power, John F. Kennedy and Lone Star Rising: Lyndon Johnson and His Times, 1908-1960. His next book is Camelot's Court: Inside the Kennedy White House.
Admission is free. A 6 p.m. reception precedes the event. RSVP online  or call 816.701.3407.