Presidential Leadership and the Creation of the American Era
Joseph S. Nye, Jr.


This book examines the foreign policy decisions of the presidents who presided over the most critical phases of America's rise to world primacy in the twentieth century, and assesses the effectiveness and ethics of their choices. Joseph Nye, who was ranked as one of Foreign Policy magazine’s 100 Top Global Thinkers, reveals how some presidents tried with varying success to forge a new international order while others sought to manage America’s existing position. The book shows how transformational presidents like Wilson and Reagan changed how America sees the world, but argues that transactional presidents like Eisenhower and the elder Bush were sometimes more effective and ethical. It also draws important lessons for today’s uncertain world, in which presidential decision making is more critical than ever.

First published in 2013.

Joseph S. Nye, Jr., is University Distinguished Service Professor and former dean of the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. His books include Soft Power, The Powers to Lead, and The Future of Power. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a member of the American Academy of Diplomacy.