"This splendid book provides the best account yet of how the
Imperial Presidency, abetted by Democrats and Republicans alike,
came to pose a clear and present danger to our republic."
-Andrew J. Bacevich, Author, The New American Militarism: How
Americans Are Seduced by War
"Rhetorical-and related-excesses are inherent in the modern
presidency. This is so for reasons brilliantly explored in the
year's most pertinent and sobering public affairs book, The
Cult of the Presidency."
-George F. Will, Newsweek
"Gene Healy wrote "The Cult of the Presidency", a book decrying the
unrealistic expectations Americans have of their presidents. The
book was written while Barack Obama's career was still on the
launch pad, yet it describes with uncanny prescience the atmosphere
that allowed him to soar."
"It's more than just a guide to why you shouldn't expect too much
from the executive: It's a history of how we've come to view the
president as central to not only our politics but our national
conception of self. Its emphasis on the limitations of the
president are as relevant to those who seek to make the state work
better as to those who seek to imprison it. Moreover, Healy is a
graceful, funny, and fluid writer. It was, by far, the best
political book I read this year."
The American Prospect
"The Cult of the Presidency provides a history of the
office of the presidency. It's a fascinating narrative of how the
office that was meant to be little more than an administrator of
the nation's laws (George Washington referred to it as "chief
magistrate") has grown into the equivalent of an elected
-Radley Balko, Reason
"Is there anything the president of the United States can't do? In
an election year it seems most people think not. There's certainly
nothing the candidates won't promise. Our politicians' outlandish
promises and the fact that people seem to buy them make Gene
Healy's new book one of the most important books of the
Orange County Register
"An excellent book. The author is an editor at the libertarian Cato
Institute, so I looked forward to some sermonizing about limited
government, self-support, executive restraint, and liberty. The
book didn't disappoint. Its target is the exaggerated expectations
we have come to have of the office. The next president will be a
person with an even more galaxy-sized sense of his (or her) own
importance. The fault is not in them, after all, it's in us. Look
at who we've chosen!"
National Review Online
"Should Healy's wonderfully informative, perception shifting
examination of the wayward American executive receive the attention
it so richly deserves, it may serve as a perfect literary tonic for
our historical and cultural amnesia."
-Shawn Macomber, American
"Mr. Healy chronicles the expansion of presidential power without
sparing any party or faction. He argues that the country's high
hopes for the president often doom him to failure: A president
cannot possibly succeed at everything now expected of the office.
These high, even audacious hopes are more often than not dashed.
This explains why grand visions of the presidency nevertheless
coincide with increased public cynicism about politics and
government. Healy's book may not lead to a reappraisal of
presidential power, but it could save gullible voters some
-W. James Antle III,
The Washington Times
"A must-read book on presidential power."
"Gene Healy's well-researched, lucidly written historical overview
of the American presidency could not be timelier with Americans
about to elect a new president. This study provides a reality check
for where we should not want future presidents to go."
-John W. Dean, Former Nixon White House Counsel
Author, Broken Government: How Republican Rule Destroyed the
Legislative, Executive and Judicial Branches
"Popular perceptions often thoughtlessly equate activist presidents
with great ones. Gene Healy makes a compelling case that the
opposite proposition lies closer to the truth. In this thorough
historical analysis, Healy lays bare the deeper risks of an
expansionist view of the presidency. Defenders of limited
government learn from Healy that the Congress is not the only
branch of government that continually seeks to expand its powers
beyond its proper constitutional limits."
-Richard A. Epstein, James Parker Hall Distinguished Service
Professor of Law, University of Chicago Law School
"Gene Healy provides an important public service by puncturing the
inflated hopes and dreams of an all-wise, informed, and
well-intentioned president. This fundamentally flawed conception of
executive power makes us less safe, less free, and less
-Louis Fisher, Author, Presidential War Power
"'Cult' is precisely the word, because the president's omnibus job
description requires above all that he serve as high priest in
America's civil religion. Healy's argument for restoring the
presidency to its constitutional limits is as persuasive as his
argument for why we, the people, will probably never permit
-Walter A. McDougal, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian
Author, Throes of Democracy: The American Civil War Era
"The Founders intended for the American President to be deferential
to Congress. So what happened? Gene Healy explains in this erudite
survey, stretching over 250 fascinating years of U.S.
-Jim Pinkerton, Assistant to Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.
W. Bush, and columnist for Newsday
"In a superb new book, Gene Healy documents the multiple ways our
political system has been corrupted by an out-of-control, unchecked
Executive that could not be any more antithetical to the presidency
of limited powers and modest goals the Framers gave us in
-Glenn Greenwald, author, How Would a Patriot Act?
"The Cult of the Presidency's greatest strengths are in
illustrating how much the modern presidency differs from the
executive office the framers of the Constitution envisioned and in
providing ample evidence of how real and massive the president's
powers are in modern America. Although he ends on an optimistic
note about the prospects for the future, in the Age of Obama it is
not clear that new limitations on the office of the presidency will
materialize anytime soon."
-Ryan W. McMaken,
The Independent Review