[Review of the Book 'Icons of Democracy: American Leaders as Heroes, Aristocrats, Dissenters and Democrats']
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[Excerpt] Icons of Democracy is a welcome change from the rather arid, often quantified analyses of political leadership so prevalent in academic writing. Well read in both primary and secondary sources, Miroff has deeply grounded his ideas in the rich historical context. In addition, he carefully chose his subjects and drew from their experiences central themes which, in divergent fashion, they also held in common. The resulting collective biography engages and challenges the reader. While partial to leaders in the dissenting tradition (they are "our true subversives and at times our truest democrats"), Miroff consistently points to the complexity of all his subjects and equally firmly resists the temptation to romanticize the democratic masses. A balanced and serious work, Icons of Democracy is a valuable contribution to the literature and perhaps to a broader public discussion on the nature of contemporary leadership in our democratic society.
leadership; politics; presidency; dissent; aristocracy; political history
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