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The Preacher and the Presidents

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The Preacher and the Presidents
Billy Graham in the White House. By Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy. (Center Street: 2008. Pg. 448.) ISBN: 1599951045

Reviewed by Angela Evans - August 27, 2007

The charismatic and shrewd evangelistic Christian preacher, the Reverend Billy Graham served as the spiritual advisor to eleven different administrations, including those of Bill Clinton, Richard M. Nixon, Ronald Reagan, Lyndon Johnson, John F. Kennedy, and more. In addition to offering spiritual advice and counseling to these various presidents, Graham also influenced every presidential election from 1952-2000. In The Preacher and the Presidents: Billy Graham in the White House, Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy, reporters with the Times delved into the impact that this one man had on American history - and politics. They also illuminate how Graham also benefitted from his political connections.

Chronicling Graham's White House connections from Harry Truman to George W. Bush, Gibbs and Duffy examine how Graham came to have such influence, and how he developed the necessary discretion and political acumen needed to become an advisor, and often a personal friend, to both Republican and Democratic presidents. They also present an overview of Rev. Graham's entire career and they show how ordinary people came to admire Rev. Graham, and how he touched the lives of more than 200 million people during his various religious crusades to spread the Christian gospel around the world.

This is not a book about how a 'preacher' ruled the White House or anything of that sort. Rather it is an unbiased account of how one man stepped forward to serve an important, and often understood role. Precedents are people, and like most people they have questions about spiritual issues, they need someone to talk to when they are in spiritual or emotional pain, are having family troubles, or simply need a sounding board to help them when they have a difficult decision to make. Unlike most people, however, Presidents tend to have few confidants that they can trust implicitly - not only to give them sound advice, but also to keep their secrets. They found such a confidant in Reverend Graham.

The Preacher and the Presidents is an eye-opening book that will fascinate political pundits, historians, and general readers interested in discovering just how human 'our' presidents really are, how pervasive Christianity is in the American political system, and how one man's commitment to his religion and in devotion to evangelizing to others can still influence the course of history. It also offers an invaluable lesson, namely that our Presidents are human too and that they suffer from same issues with uncertainty and indecisiveness that all people face at one time or another.

Related Reviews:

The Puritan Oligarchy: The Founding of American Civilization, By Thomas Jefferson Wertenbaker.
The Puritan Oligarchy describes the origins, formation and eventual failure of the Puritan bible state in Massachusetts.

Of Paradise and Power: America and Europe in the New World Order, by Robert Kagan
In this concise, timely book, Kagan examines the differences between the US and Europe, and how these differences will impact future relations between the US and the countries of Europe.

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