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Reviewed by Tammy Ruggles for Readers' Favorite
Personality Wins: Who Will Take the White House and How We Know by Merrick Rosenberg is a riveting and eye-opening book that explores how presidents - since the age of modern media at least - have been chosen and will continue to be chosen on personality: not policy, knowledge, or experience. It's all about charisma, and although we know that it plays a big part in politics, it may be disconcerting to realize that it plays the biggest part in presidential elections in the United States. Rosenberg expertly and succinctly lays out the different types of political personalities, giving examples of the presidents that fit the description. Starting in the 1930s, she shows readers how they led the polls based on these profiles. We are sadly left with a personality contest of sorts, like it or not. We like soundbites, headlines, clickbait, so of course, we're the prime generation for this kind of candidate.
You will enjoy the definitions and descriptions of the personality types: Trump the Eagle, Clinton the Parrot, Carter the Dove, Bush, Sr. the Owl. These are concepts you may have guessed were taking place, but this book presents pretty clear examples of it occurring. But does knowing this change how we elect our presidents? Probably not. It's as if the popularity contest is in our DNA, fueled by media influence, society, culture, and even looks/body language. I especially like the section on President Obama's Dove reactions to issues like the Sandy Hook school massacre, but had an Eagle reaction to other issues, as in the drone strikes. It all fits when you filter it through the lens of the personality framework. If you enjoy reading about the machinations of power, politics, and presidents, you will love Personality Wins: Who Will Take the White House and How We Know by Merrick Rosenberg.