March 19, 2009 – H. W. Brands, historian and biographer of presidents, spoke on “Obama in History” at an event co-hosted by Grand Valley State University’s Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies and the Gerald R. Ford Museum.
His eloquence has been compared to Ronald Reagan’s and John Kennedy’s. His task – in the face of an economic crisis of historic proportions and two ongoing wars – has been compared to Franklin Roosevelt’s. He took the oath of office with his hand on Abraham Lincoln’s Bible; compared his cabinet to Lincoln’s “team of rivals”; and in his inaugural address, linked today’s challenges to those faced by George Washington and his men at Valley Forge. At the end of his second month in office, President Obama had attracted lofty comparisons to the most revered of his forty-two predecessors. Are such lofty comparisons justified? Who better to put President Obama in context than an award-winning historian and biographer of presidents?
H. W. Brands, professor of history at the University of Texas, has won numerous awards for his teaching and writing. He is author of two dozen books, including biographies of Presidents Andrew Jackson (2005), Woodrow Wilson (2003), Theodore Roosevelt (1997), and Lyndon Johnson (1995). His most recent book, “Traitor to His Class: The Privileged Life and Radical Presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt,” was released on Election Day 2008.