Profiles in Power

Personality, Persona, and the U.S. President


The turbulent and unpredictable presidency of Donald Trump has intensified public and scholarly attention to the personalities of presidents. Profiles in Power approaches the presidency as a personal affair that is shaped, in part, by the character of the occupants of the Oval Office and their attempts to craft public personas. In ten biographical essays that focus on individual presidents and on one First Lady, the authors in this volume build on a renewed interest in presidential studies that emphasizes individual agency. As such, the book seeks to bring the personal aspect of the presidency back into U.S. political history.

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Jelte Olthof, Ph.D., is Assistant Professor of American Studies at the University of Groningen, where he teaches rhetoric and the U.S. Constitution. His dissertation Patchwork Republic traces the rhetorical career of “we the people” in Congressional debates.

Maarten Zwiers, Ph.D., is Assistant Professor of American Studies and History at the University of Groningen. He specializes in rural and southern studies and is the author of Senator James Eastland: Mississippi’s Jim Crow Democrat (LSU Press, 2015).
Introduction: The Personal Presidency Jelte Olthof and Maarten Zwiers
1 The Symbiosis between Biography and History Nigel Hamilton
2 U.S. Presidents and Psychohistory Arthur Eaton
3 Origins and Development of Lincoln’s Antislavery Policies David Zarefsky
4 Jackson’s Heir: How Andrew Johnson Shaped the Post-civil War Political Order Mark Leon de Vries
5 Franklin D. Roosevelt as an Architect of Public History Sara Polak
6 “A Different and Better Future”: Eleanor Roosevelt and the Global Atlantic Dario Fazzi
7 War Hero in the White House: Dwight Eisenhower and the Politics of Peace, Prosperity, and Party Robert Mason
8 “Like a Jackass in a Hailstorm”: Lyndon Johnson, Vietnam, and the Upending of the American Century Keith M. Finley
9 The Perfect Storm: Richard Nixon and the Office of Telecommunications Policy Kathryn Cramer Brownell
10 Hellhounds on the Campaign Trail: Region, Religion, and Manhood in Jimmy Carter’s Race for the White House Maarten Zwiers
11 Will the Real Trump Please Stand Up? Donald Trump’s Elusive Persona Jelte Olthof
People interested in how the personality of presidents affected their time in office, as well as how U.S. presidents shape their public persona.
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