A book entitled The Presidential Character is more timely and necessary than ever. This new issue of James David Barber’s classic work appears almost 50 years after its first publication and yet reads like a roadmap to the 2020 presidential election. Its subtitle, “Predicting Performance in the White House,” is an apt reflection on the election of 2016.

With a revised and updated foreword by George C. Edwards III that brings in the Trump Administration, this book argues that patterns in a person’s character, world view, and political style can allow us to anticipate his or her performance as president. How would Barber have categorized Donald J. Trump, who appears to defy every presidential type and norm? This question suggests one of the most provocative and appealing reasons for students, scholars, and voters to re-read The Presidential Character at this particular juncture. What should we look for in a president? This text offers explanations and predictions of the performance of past presidents and presidential candidates with many cautionary tales looking forward.


  • Presents a revised and updated foreword by presidential scholar George C. Edwards III, Distinguished Professor of Political Science at Texas A&M University, that includes the advent of the Trump Administration and highlights the book’s classic and enduring contributions.
  • Includes predictions of presidential performance from Nixon to Bush.
  • Analyzes the media’s role in providing information about the political candidates and in shaping public opinion of them.
  • Draws on historical, biographical, and psychological research to help voters make judicious choices in determining the country’s highest leaders.
  • Encourages citizens to be actively involved scholars, critics, and participants in their government.

chapter 2|36 pages

Three Tragic Tales

chapter 3|36 pages

The Active-Negative Presidents

chapter 4|39 pages

The Origins of Presidential Compulsion

chapter 6|25 pages

The Passive-Negative Presidents

chapter 7|30 pages

The Passive-Positive Presidents

chapter 8|42 pages

Reagan’s Rise and Rule

chapter 10|41 pages

Harry S Truman and Active-Positive Combat

chapter 12|12 pages

The Crucial Ford Transition

chapter 13|58 pages

Jimmy Carter: Predicted and Reviewed

chapter 14|28 pages

George Bush: The World View Dilemma

chapter 15|9 pages

Adding It Up