George Washington: Foundation of Presidential Leadership and Character edited by Ethan Fishman, William D. Pederson, and Mark J. Rozell
These collections remind us that the study of the American Founders has both popular and scholarly purposes. The volume edited by Matthew Spalding is designed for the serious beginning student of the American Founding as well as those who wish simply to ransack the Founders' wisdom for immediate practical use (e.g., adorning a speech with quotations). In addition to apt quotations, a calendar of events, basic documents, and essays by scholars such as Steven Forde, Mackubin Owens, Bradley Thompson, Colleen Sheehan, Dorthea Wolfson, and Spalding himself make this a most useful reference work for teachers, students, and professors.
The Ethan Fushman et al. book contains a range of essays, uneven in quality, by new and venerable George Washington scholars, including William Allen, Kent Kirwan, Glenn Phelps, Colleen Shogan, and Spalding. Allen's essay on "The Foreign Policy of Republicanism" contains a useful resume of commentary on the Farewell Address, in addition to reflection on the teaching of distinguished Claremont McKenna College international relations professor Harold W. Rood, Fishman and other essayists take seriously the Aristotelian prudence displayed in Washington, whose example helps to inspire both of these volumes.
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This article appeared in the Winter 2002 issue of the Claremont Review of Books