Barber, James David 1930-2004

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BARBER, James David 1930-2004

OBITUARY NOTICE— See index for CA sketch: Born July 31, 1930, in Charleston, WV; died of complications from primary progressive aphasia September 12, 2004, in Durham, NC. Political scientist, educator, and author. Barber was a former professor at Yale and Duke universities and is best remembered for his studies of the psychologies of American presidents. Completing his undergraduate and master's degrees at the University of Chicago in 1950 and 1955 respectively, he went to Yale for his doctorate, which he earned in 1960. Barber's academic career began at Stetson University, where he was an assistant professor of political science in the mid-1950s. He spent the 1960s and early 1970s at Yale University, beginning as an assistant professor in 1961 and rising to full professorship in 1968. While at Yale, he was also director of graduate studies in political science for two years and director of the Office for Advanced Political Studies from 1967 to 1968. Barber then moved on to Duke University as professor of political science and chair of his department from 1972 to 1975; from 1978 until his 1995 retirement he was James B. Duke Professor of Political Science. Barber's early publications were purely for scholars and students, including such works as The Lawmakers: Recruitment and Adaptation to Legislative Life (1965) and Citizen Politics: An Introduction to Political Behavior (1969; second edition, 1972), but when he wrote The Presidential Character: Predicting Performance in the White House (1972; fourth edition, 1992) he hoped that general audiences would appreciate it, too. This book captures Barber's theories that a U.S. president's performance in office could be predicted by analyzing his character, which Barber classified in one of four ways: passive-positive, passive-negative, active-positive, and active-negative. The best presidents—active-positives—include such leaders as Harry S Truman and Franklin Roosevelt; the worst—active-negatives—include presidents Richard M. Nixon and Lyndon B. Johnson, according to Barber. Presidents who fall into the active-negative category tend to be domineering and inflexible, traits that could damage their own careers and compromise their ability to lead. Barber's theories became highly influential in the field of political science, and he updated his book several times to include more-recently elected presidents. Among Barber's other books are The Pulse of Politics: Electing Presidents in the Media Age (1980), Politics by Humans: Research on American Leadership (1988), and The Book of Democracy (1995). After his retirement, Barber spent much of his time in charitable work, helping to send supplies to the Ivory Coast to assist Liberian refugees.



Los Angeles Times, September 15, 2004, p. B9.

New York Times, September 15, 2004, p. A29.

Washington Post, September 15, 2004, p. B6.

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Barber, James David 1930-2004

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