The Center for Presidential History will soon see the publication of When Life Strikes the President: Death, Scandal, and Illness in the White House (Oxford University Press, 2017), based on the 2014 conference of a similar name.
Americans demand much from their presidents. They practically require them to be superhuman no matter the circumstance: cool in moments of stress, compassionate in times of tragedy, steadfast in time of war. Yet they are also human, and sometimes, life strikes even the White House. Death can touch their family. They can fall ill. Their personal judgment can lapse. Everyday citizens typically ride out in privacy such personal trials. A president does not have that option. They have a moral, legal, and most profoundly ethical responsibility to their office no matter what might be occurring in their private life. Indeed, at crucial points in the annals of the presidency, personal crises have affected a president’s ability to lead, and even altered the nation’s course.
Edited by Jeffrey Engel and Thomas Knock, this book collects the work of our nation’s foremost historians, writers, and leaders. When Life Strikes the President will be released March 2017 through Oxford University Press. Chapter contributors include: Aaron Crawford, Daniel Feller, Kiron Skinner, William Chafe, Michael Holt, Michael Burlingame, Amity Shlaes, David Nasaw, Thomas Knock, Frank Costigliola, Jeremi Suri, and Randall Woods.