Jeffrey Gedmin at the Weekly Standard has written a highly favorable review of Tevi Troy’s excellent book Shall We Wake the President?: Two Centuries of Disaster Management from the Oval Office. We have discussed the book here. Stanley Kurtz praised it here.
Shall We Wake the President also made Yuval Levin’s list of best books of the year. Here is what Yuval said:
This is a book about the president’s role in disaster management, but because its author is both a historian of American politics and a former senior White House staffer (full disclosure: I used to work for him), it is a story told from the inside out in a fascinating and engaging way. Among other things, it is a tale about how our expectations of presidents have changed over time, and so, again one particularly relevant to the times we’re living in.
This is from the Weekly Standard review:
Tevi Troy’s new book. . .is carefully researched, well written, and draws on Troy’s experience in government in a practical and exceptionally refreshing way. (When’s the last time you read a book by a former administration official that wasn’t at least, in part, a self-branding endeavor?). . . .
Troy uses history as a road map for us to plan better for the future. We cannot predict catastrophes. But from his perch in the Bush White House, and later as deputy secretary of health and human services, he has drawn from his experience to share lessons in policy, organization, coordination, and responsibility. Shall We Wake the President? even gives advice at the individual level. So will the next administration learn? You have to wonder whether, when disaster strikes, the business acumen and practical savvy of Donald Trump will kick in to assure timely and wise decisions.
There’s still no substitute for preparing, however, if we want to optimize our chances of getting things right in the midst of an unforeseen catastrophe. For this reason, let’s hope Tevi Troy’s straightforward and useful account makes its way to the top of the White House reading lists.
The review also offers a glimpse into Troy’s assessment of how various presidents have handled disasters. I found these assessments — a glimpse into the character and quality of the presidents in question — to be the most fascinating aspect of this compelling book.