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Moral Vision

Leadership from George Washington to Joe Biden

About The Book

What makes a leader truly great? Is it simply a matter of management style and personality? Or is it character that matters most? Moral Visions takes an insightful look into America’s leaders of the past to answer these questions and demonstrates that values and moral convictions are critical to the strength of a nation.

Supposedly, we learn about the candidates for the highest office through a series of tests called “debates,” which are instead an exchange of soundbites. We can’t know whether an aspirant to the presidency has the ability to ask good questions or only a suave or belligerent ability to answer them. Moral Vision is a human-interest introduction to American history through studies of nineteen leaders: presidents, almost presidents, a tycoon, a crusading journalist, and even a leading 19th century abortionist. Its lessons can help voters sort through the candidates in 2024 and beyond by measuring them against previous leaders—none of whom was faultless. It shows how the deepest views often grow out of religious belief and influence political goals, racial prejudices, sexual activities, uses of power, and senses of service.

In his 1789 inaugural address, George Washington pledged that “the foundation for national policy will be laid in the sure and immutable principles of private morality.” Marvin Olasky shows how 19th-century leaders like Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, and Grover Cleveland partly upheld and partly ignored that promise, and 20th-century leaders like Woodrow Wilson, John F. Kennedy, and Bill Clinton tried to “compartmentalize” the private and the public.

An extensively updated version of The American Leadership Tradition, Moral Vision is for anyone tired of today’s textbook tendencies to submerge the role of individuals as big economic and demographic waves roll in. History is more than statistics, economics, and group identities. Human beings are more than paper boats riding the rainfall into gutters.

About The Author

Susan Olasky

Marvin Olasky graduated from Yale University in 1971 and gained a PhD in American Culture from the University of Michigan in 1976. He was a professor at The University of Texas at Austin from 1983 to 2008 and has also had appointments at Patrick Henry College, Princeton, San Diego State, and The King’s College, New York City. He edited World magazine from 1992 to 2021, was a correspondent with The Boston Globe, a columnist with the Austin American-Statesman, and has research affiliations with Discovery Institute and Acton Institute.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Free Press (May 15, 2024)
  • Length: 464 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781668047897

Raves and Reviews

Governor George W. Bush Marvin Olasky is one of the most influential new conservative voices in America today. Influenced by his deep faith, his writings show that values and moral convictions are critical to the strength of a free society and a free people.

Gary L. Bauer Family Research Council In this time of confusion about the relationship of private morals to public virtue, Marvin Olasky has done us a great service. His book examines our nation's history, from George Washington to Bill Clinton, in order to reveal how the character of our leaders has been, and remains, crucial to America's destiny.

U.S. Senator John Ashcroft Public servants are teachers. This truth was impressed upon me by my service as Governor and Senator -- that the teaching example of our leaders is profoundly important. What should our leaders teach? This is the question that Marvin Olasky answers in clear and ringing terms in The American Leadership Tradition. In this important book, Olasky examines the lives of several important Americans and establishes the urgent need for role models who stand for the virtues that we want to pass on to our children, including honesty, responsibility, and accountability.

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