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The Presidents: An Afternoon with Brian Lamb and Susan Swain

The complete rankings of our best -- and worst -- presidents, based on C-SPAN's much-cited Historians Surveys of Presidential Leadership.

This April, we’re thrilled to welcome C-SPAN Chairman Brian Lamb and CEO Susan Swain to Harrisburg as they discuss their new book, The Presidents: Noted Historians Rank America's Best--and Worst--Chief Executives. WITF’s Scott LaMar will moderate the discussion. This event is free and open to the public — book signing to follow.

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Over a period of decades, C-SPAN has surveyed leading historians on the best and worst of America's presidents across a variety of categories -- their ability to persuade the public, their leadership skills, the moral authority, and more. The crucible of the presidency has forged some of the very best and very worst leaders in our national history, along with much in between.
Based on interviews conducted over the years with a variety of presidential biographers, this book provides not just a complete ranking of our presidents, but stories and analyses that capture the character of the men who held the office. From Abraham Lincoln's political savvy and rhetorical gifts to James Buchanan's indecisiveness, this book teaches much about what makes a great leader--and what does not.

As America looks ahead to our next election, this book offers perspective and criteria that may help us choose our next leader wisely.

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About the Authors:

Susan Swain has been interviewing Washington notables for three decades, sitting down with presidents and first ladies, members of Congress, Supreme Court justices, historians, and political journalists. She integrates this with her management role – since 2012, she's also served as co-CEO of the public affairs cable network.

She and C-SPAN founder Brian Lamb have collaborated on nine books, published by PublicAffairs. Their latest, published in spring 2019, is "The Presidents: Noted Historians on America's Best -- and Worst-- Chief Executives." Susan edits Brian Lamb's interviews with the country's top presidential historians into lively essays that provide snapshots into life events that have shaped our leaders, political challenges they faced, and the legacies they left behind. The book's unique twist -- it's organized by C-SPAN's often cited Historians' Survey of Presidential Leadership. 

Some of Swain and Lamb's past titles include ""The Supreme Court," and "Abraham Lincoln." And in 2015, Susan produced "First Ladies," following a year-long biography series she hosted for C-SPAN on the lives of every presidential spouse.

"The Presidents" has already been chosen by the History Book Club as a featured title for April 2019.

Earlier Event: April 27
Independent Bookstore Day!