No one man or woman has ever been in a position to see the presidents, and the presidency, so intimately, over so many years. They called him in for photo opportunities. They called for comfort. They asked about death and salvation; about sin and forgiveness. At a time when the nation is increasingly split over the place of religion in public life, THE PREACHER AND THE PRESIDENTS reveals how the world's most powerful men and world's most famous evangelist, Billy Graham, knit faith and politics together.
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 5.48" Width: 5.78" Height: 1.54"
Weight: 0.63 lbs.
Release Date Aug 31, 2007
Publisher HACHETTE BOOK GROUP
Availability 2 units.
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|Fascinating Look at Graham's Influence on the Presidency Oct 22, 2008|
|If you like American history, politics, or Billy Graham (or all three), you will love this book! The Preacher and the Presidents tells the story of Billy Graham's relationship with eleven presidents (from Harry Truman to George W. Bush). Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy have given us a book filled with meticulous research that will serve as a guide for evangelicals who seek to enter the murky waters of politics.|
The Preacher and the Presidents could easily be divided into two parts: Before Nixon and After Nixon. Graham's relationship to the presidents changes dramatically after Nixon's disgrace. Before Nixon, Graham served as a pastor/political advisor. With a clear understanding of the general public's feelings on many issues, Graham advised the presidents regarding their communication, their stance on important issues, and the spiritual tone they should set for the country.
During the early years, Graham and the presidents used each other. The presidents needed him by their side for his personal support and his public persona. Graham needed the presidents to further his name and increase attendance at his crusades.
At times, the book shows Graham to be prophetic. He speaks out for nuclear disarmament when the White House disagrees. He urges the presidents to cast themselves upon the mercy of the Lord. He refuses to compromise on key issues, even under presidential pressure. He desegregates his crusades during the civil rights era.
At other times, Graham is hopelessly naive. No president exposed Graham's lack of judgment more than Nixon, who managed to con and fool Graham just as he did the entire nation.
Graham learns many lessons, especially after the Nixon fiasco. Yet, instead of improving his lack of discernment, Graham chooses to withdraw from the political limelight. Acknowledging his weaknesses and past failures, he learns from his mistakes and begins befriending the presidents instead of advising them.
The Preacher and the Presidents is a testament to Billy Graham's legacy - both how and how not to mix politics and religion. It is also a testament to his evangelistic courage. No president was too powerful to miss out on Graham's presentation of the gospel.
|Living His Mission May 2, 2008|
|Although I've always known that Billy Graham was a charismatic evangelist, I didn't realize just how spiritual, humble, forgiving, and influential he was until reading this book. Not only was he allowed into the "inner sanctums" of powerful United States politicians and other movers and shakers, but he was also admitted entry into places in the world where others would not have been allowed. At the same time, he cared about "the least of these" and always felt his #1 mission in life was to spread the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ. |
Although he could easily hobnob with the presidents and their wives, he never lost his humility and the sure knowledge that God is in control of our lives. Whether golfing with a Bush, swimming with Johnson, or praying with Nixon, he did so in a spiritual role, not a political one. As the authors bring out, Graham didn't need fortune or fame. He saw himself as their pastor, their advocate with the Father. Presidents aren't as free as the rest of us to go to the Baptist church around the corner or the Catholic one downtown, so Billy Graham felt it was his responsibility to go to them...and go he did. Plus, I learned that no matter who the president was, Graham believed that he was God's divine choice and was thus supportive, even after Clinton's misdeeds and Nixon's Watergate situation.
The most recurrent theme that I picked up is that regardless of what he was exposed to, Dr. Graham remained the evangelist sure of his purpose. Interestingly, however, the pundits and press and other religious leaders all had their criticisms...even when he was clearly doing what the scriptures admonish us to do. They even criticized him for being too forgiving, too conciliatory, not judgmental enough. HUH???
Sure of his mission, I've got a feeling that Dr. Graham doesn't worry about such criticisms. His message is that everyone wants to be loved and that God loves us each and everyone, even the ones who disappoint, hurt, or criticize us.
|Thoroughly enjoyable with one exception Jan 20, 2008|
|A fascinating read and deservedly praised, I found this book hard to put down until Chapter 31 on Billy's acquaintance with the Clintons. That chapter had a false ring - a different tone from the rest, that smacked me in the face. With so few comments there in Billy's words, as were heavily used in the chapters about other presidents, the writers droned on and on in their attempt to paint the Clintons as good as the rest. After their fairly even-handed (and exhaustive) work on both the humanity and duplicity of Nixon earlier in the book, I was unpleasantly amazed. Of course, most of the others are dead and gone, while Mrs. Clinton is running for a third term as co-president, and this makes it worse. The chapter sticks out as an effort to rub some of Billy's good character onto the Clintons by association. It didn't work. |
Several times during that chapter, I did put it down in disgust, wondering what happened here? I know spin when I see it. For what purpose did the writers, after relating so much that sounded genuine about all the presidents up to that point, think they needed to con readers into accepting that; while we were subjected to an amoral sex offender and his socialist wife for eight years, they were really just as normal, good Christians as all the others. Pandering to them in such a book included the writers' insinuations that Billy Graham supported the Clintons and approved, for example, of abortion and homosexuality along with them, which he emphatically did not. The way the writers gloss over the criminal conduct of the Clintons, a pass they certainly didn't give Nixon, defending and excusing them on and on ad nauseum, speaks volumes. The comparatively few words of Billy himself on that period, when it was he being interviewed for the book, is noticeable, too, in a look at the chapter. Note that Hillary bragged on several occasions what a personal help Billy had been to her, with no corroboration from him other than a meeting in 2005 in which he mentioned "private time". Yet by this point, we know his own self-imposed rules about that. Hillary's stories of "huddling with" Billy are as blatant lies as so many of her other stories, judging by what Billy himself says. But her stories are presented as accurate with no input from him, in contrast to the rest of the book.
In giving the writers license, Billy was too trusting - as he often was because of his basic love for and trust in people. But I was so put off by this whitewash, I had to put the book down for a few days. Later I glanced back through the chapters, because I had also been struck by the short space given to President Reagan's term in the White House after he and Billy had been friends for 30 years. Yes, I was right - amazing how little space was given to those more recent years, compared to presidents before him.
I learned a lot that was new; Carter's dislike for Billy despite professing the same religious beliefs, LBJ's real fondness for him. I was entranced by the new look at Eisenhower, saddened at the way Nixon took advantage of a genuine friendship, pleased to learn things I hadn't known about Bush 41 and the whole family. For the writers to push their personal bias in my face near the end came close to spoiling a great read for me. It is a wonderful book except for Chapter 31.
|For non-fans Dec 12, 2007|
|This biographical piece is considerably different from other works written about Billy Graham's life. Just As I Am (autobiography) and other histories of the Billy Graham Crusades evolve into hagiographies where Graham has faults but these are downplayed. This book tries to be as balanced as possible portraying some glaring weaknesses such as Graham's heavily favoring various presidents and presidential candidates, even in public, while not legalistically endorsing them. |
The insights into various presidencies is also very informative and shows them in ways that are probably consistent with what can be publically known but with nuances that may have been previously unknown. Certainly other Graham biographies have not entered into this level of detail.
On balance, this is a genuine attempt to present Graham as he really is, particularly in relation to the presidents of the past 60 years. Those who are looking for a spiritually uplifting journey may be disappointed. That does not appear to be the point of this book.
But for those who are not fans of Graham, and would like to know him better, this limited biography is very valuable
|Just as he wasn't Nov 28, 2007|
|Given the enormous financial and investigative resources available to Time magazine reporters Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy, it shouldn't be too much to expect historical accuracy in this biography. Then again, Time has been an uncritical cheerleader for Graham's ministry since the day in 1950 when publisher Henry Luce visited the young minister, then a houseguest at South Carolina Governor Strom Thurmond's mansion, and decided to join William Randolph Hearst's efforts to "puff Graham." Time has a substantial investment in Graham's ministry, having run more than 600 stories about his career.|
Unfortunately, historical accuracy isn't one of the strong points of a book that is otherwise a pleasant enough read. People make mistakes, of course, but when they tend to fall in the same direction, one begins to suspect a hidden agenda. On the other hand, simple sloppiness can't be ruled out, as when they place Graham at Bob Jones College in Greenville, S.C., for his first year of higher education. When Graham dropped out during his freshman year that school was located in Cleveland, Tenn. The subtitle tells you all you need to know about the story between the covers. The book begins with Graham's rocky relationship with Harry S. Truman and ends with his fatherly embrace of George W. Bush. Those attracted to the preacher will find nothing to dislike, but also little that is new. This is the same generous tale told by Graham's publicity team in countless books, articles, movies, advertisements, TV appearances and, of course, crusades. According to this account, from Eisenhower forward, all of the presidents have sought Graham's counsel in varying degrees, and discovered a deep well of comfort and spiritual wisdom. The authors make mild forays into Graham's political mistakes and spend a long while on his purported close friendship with and later betrayal by Nixon, but the poking is gentle and Graham emerges as an older but wiser hero.
The mistakes and omissions are telling, however. Careful to paint Nixon as the agent of darkness, they write: "The beloved Ike, Nixon charged, was `a far more complex and devious man than most people realized.'" Thus they imply that Nixon was even nasty to sweet old Dwight Eisenhower. But this can only be a deliberate misquote. In his book Six Crises Nixon actually concluded the sentence "and in the best sense of those words." His intention was to PRAISE Eisenhower.
It is important for Nixon to be the sinner because the preacher the authors have chosen to present was supposedly suckered into long-term support for Tricky Dick, and was devastated when he learned that Nixon had deceived him. Much to Graham's enduring dismay, his back-room politicking had been tape-recorded and would come back to embarrass him over and over again through ensuing years. Nor have all of Nixon's notorious tapes yet been released. Graham's support for civil rights is painted as enthusiastic and heartfelt, but his actual record is far from clear. The authors repeat Graham's assertion that Martin Luther King, Jr., endorsed his arms-length approach to integration, without corroborating evidence, and neglect Graham's reaction to "I Have a Dream" in 1963. Graham conducted a press conference the next morning and said, "Only when Christ comes again will the little white children of Alabama walk hand in hand with little black children."
Concerning King the authors also claim that he delivered volumes by Gandhi disguised in Billy Graham book jackets to imprisoned Freedom Riders in Mississippi. This is another example of either the authors' incautious research or eagerness to hitch Graham's wagon to King's star. According to Taylor Branch, writing in Pillar of Fire : America in the King Years 1963-65 (America in the King Years) (which the authors cite as their reference), the transporter of disguised books was Rev. Edwin King, a white preacher of no known relation to MLK.
Lest it be overlooked elsewhere as it is in THE PREACHER AND THE PRESIDENTS, Graham's nonprofit enterprises have profited nicely from the high profile that presidential palavering has, in no small part, afforded him. While his annual personal income from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association only totalled a bit over $500,000 in recent years, he enjoyed a well-appointed "log cabin" estate in Montreat, N.C., with high tech communications gear and an indoor swimming pool, a vacation home in the posh country club community of Pauma Valley, California, and controlled tax-exempt properties worth hundreds of millions of dollars in North Carolina alone. Nor do these figures include income from books, recordings and television appearances, and may not include the receipts of the individual LLCs created for each of his crusades. To top it off, he bragged that he "never paid for a suit or a hotel room," though he seems to have preferred lodging in various mansions, both public and private, to the common discomforts of life in commercial rooms. THE PREACHER AND THE PRESIDENTS offers comforting fiction disguised as history. It is, without doubt, a book written for believers.
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