Meeting the Moment

Inspiring Presidential Leadership that Transformed America

By William Haldeman

Subjects: Presidency, The, American History, Leadership Studies, General Interest, Political Communication, American Studies
Series: SUNY series on the Presidency: Contemporary Issues
Hardcover : 9798855800173, 288 pages, November 2024
Paperback : 9798855800180, 288 pages, November 2024
Expected to ship: 2024-11-01
Expected to ship: 2024-11-01

Inspiring stories of six US presidents and the distinctive leadership characteristics that set them apart and transformed America.


The histories presented here are of a select group of US presidents, their inspired leadership characteristics, and how they may inspire us today. The traits these presidents possessed were cultivated over a lifetime of lived experience and immortalized through the power of the presidential word—speeches, letters, and addresses—which collectively represent the most transcendent documents in American history. Viewed through the lens of nuance, complication, human emotion, pathos, and drama, William Haldeman sets forth the lives of these presidents in ways to help inform our own lives, from leveraging our experience and instincts to making the right calls when they matter the most. Grounded in an interdisciplinary approach, Haldeman appeals to both scholars and general audience readers alike, offering a refreshing view of presidential leadership that not only elevates leadership as a central part of the scholarly field, but also broadly engages American presidency enthusiasts and readers of history, biography, politics, and leadership development.

William Haldeman is Vice Chancellor and Chief Strategy Officer at the University of Pittsburgh. He has also served the White House Domestic Policy Council, two US secretaries of state, and as a senior staff member to a state governor.


"Haldeman offers a fresh, vibrant, and highly readable perspective on presidential leadership through situational and biographical analyses of key presidential decision points, examining and comparing qualities of presidential character permitting selected presidents to be successful, persuasively arguing that no flawless or indisputable set of characteristics distinguishes presidential greatness but, rather, that singular qualities and circumstances combine to produce history-changing or 'transformative' outcomes." — James Hilty, Professor Emeritus, Temple University, author of Robert Kennedy: Brother Protector

"In these perilous, highly polarized times, we can benefit from a historically grounded work that offers an informed, impartial analysis of exceptional presidential leadership. Bill Haldeman fills that need with his thoroughly researched, persuasively argued analysis of the inspired leadership exhibited by many of our most esteemed presidents, including George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt, and Ronald Reagan." — Allan J. Lichtman, Distinguished Professor of History, American University

"America's success still depends on presidential leadership, and Bill Haldeman powerfully shows us how some prior chief executives used their talents and character to step up the pace of progress. We will only rarely have the privilege of electing a Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, or Roosevelt, but we can and should examine candidates for the White House using Haldeman’s criteria for excellence in office— judgment, ingenuity, dedication, courage, confidence, and optimism. Voters can raise the bar of presidential quality by focusing on these dimensions of the soul." — Larry J. Sabato, Professor, University of Virginia; Director, Center for Politics at the University of Virginia

"Meeting the Moment should be of interest to both scholars within multiple disciplines as well as general interest readers. Haldeman brings real-world experience within government, along with his academic training, to provide a fascinating assessment of times of crisis and how six presidents rose to meet them. The inclusion of 'traditional' presidents such a Washington and Lincoln as well as 'modern' presidents such as FDR and Reagan enhances the book’s appeal." — Lori Cox Han, coeditor of In the Public Domain: Presidents and the Challenges of Public Leadership

"Meeting the Moment is a profoundly insightful and engagingly written study of presidential leadership. William Haldeman scrutinizes six of our most important presidents—Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt, and Ronald Reagan —and demonstrates that through character and long experience each had acquired and honed a leadership quality essential for effectively meeting the supreme challenge of his time. The essential quality varied from president to president, but each possessed a key attribute that inspired others to follow and enabled the leader to successfully confront national adversity and crisis. This important book is a worthy contribution to the study of presidential greatness." — John Ferling, author of Winning Independence: The Decisive Years of the Revolutionary War, 1778-1781

"Bill Haldeman's book offers engaging stories on how American presidents—at pivotal moments and national crises—put to work some of the best qualities of leadership. Embodying these qualities, their compelling words inspired the people, defined their presidencies, and helped shape the country's future. Today, from the halls of government and academia to boardrooms and C-suites in industry and beyond, our leaders—like those I work with every day—are grappling with the impacts of unprecedented technological change and massive transformation on many fronts. As they strive to meet their own leadership moments during these turbulent times, they can learn much from the lessons offered by these American icons." — Deborah Wince-Smith, President and CEO, Council on Competitiveness