Troy, Gil

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Troy, Gil

PERSONAL:

Born in New York, NY; married Linda Adams (a lawyer); children: four. Education: Harvard University, A.B, A.M, Ph.D, 1988.

ADDRESSES:

Office—Department of History, McGill University, Room 628, 855 Sherbrooke St. W, Montreal, Quebec H3A 2T7, Canada. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

Writer, educator, and historian. Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, instructor in history and literature, 1988-90; McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, assistant professor, 1990-95, became associate professor, then professor of history. Commentator on Canadian and American television networks. Member of advisory board, History News Network.

WRITINGS:

See How They Ran: The Changing Role of the Presidential Candidate, Free Press (New York, NY), 1991, revised and expanded edition, Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA), 1996.

Affairs of State: The Rise and Rejection of the Presidential Couple since World War II, Free Press (New York, NY), 1997, revised edition published as Mr. and Mrs. President: From the Trumans to the Clintons, University Press of Kansas (Lawrence, KS), 2000.

Why I Am a Zionist: Israel, Jewish Identity, and the Challenges of Today, Bronfman Jewish Education Centre (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 2001, 3rd edition, 2006

Morning in America: How Ronald Reagan Invented the 1980s, Princeton University Press (Princeton, NJ), 2004.

Hillary Rodham Clinton: Polarizing First Lady, University Press of Kansas (Lawrence, KS), 2006.

Leading from the Center: Why Moderates Make the Best Presidents, Basic Books (New York, NY), 2008.

Former author of monthly column "The Ivory Tower," for Forward. Monday columnist for Midday Show, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Contributor to periodicals, including New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Newsday, New York Post, Montreal Gazette, Moment, Canadian Jewish News, and Canada's National Post.

SIDELIGHTS:

Author and historian Gil Troy is a professor of history at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. A scholar of modern U.S. political history, Troy focuses in particular on issues related to U.S. presidents, presidential campaigns, and presidential legacies.

In See How They Ran: The Changing Role of the Presidential Candidate, Troy examines the characteristics of presidential campaigns from the earliest to the most recent. He offers an "original, fascinating and admirably focused account of American presidential campaigns" covering the entire gamut of candidates, from George Washington to George Bush, noted a Publishers Weekly critic. In early campaigns, candidates "stood" for office rather than "ran" for office; candidates regularly wrote involved treatises describing their views and intentions; and campaigning carried a more dignified aura. Troy does not see the modern phenomena of media campaigning, negative politicking, and reliance on polls as a ruination of a once-refined process. Instead, he contends, modern campaigning represents a shift in emphasis in the complex process of electing a president.

Affairs of State: The Rise and Rejection of the Presidential Couple since World War II, later published as Mr. and Mrs. President: From the Trumans to the Clintons, focuses on "how each first lady has measured up to the predominantly conservative public perception of what her role should be," commented Philip H. Vaughan in History: Review of New Books. Reason contributor John J. Pitney, Jr., observed that "this book is serious political history with a tough-minded attitude." Troy finds that first ladies "have wielded considerable power and served as key behind-the-scenes presidential advisers," noted Robert P. Watson in the Presidential Studies Quarterly. However, in the volatile arena of public life and opinion, presidential spouses also have the potential for causing political harm to their husbands. "Troy sees the president's spouse as, at times, both helping and harming the president, although he argues that there is a far greater potential for hindering the president," Watson stated. Troy concludes that while first ladies have an important role to play in the presidency, and while they can be politically and socially active within their own sphere, "the institution of first lady is not constitutionally derived, powerful spouses are un-impeachable and non-elected, and the wedding band does not permit one to make public policy," Watson remarked. "This entertaining, lively, and well-written work is filled with fresh and perceptive observations on the modern presidency and American society," Vaughan stated. Booklist reviewer Margaret Flanagan dubbed the book "a revealing historical and sociological overview of the personal and political marriages" of the previous eleven presidential couples. A Publishers Weekly contributor called the book "deeply engrossing," while Karl Helicher, a Library Journal critic, named it a "thought-provoking, readable book."

Morning in America: How Ronald Reagan Invented the 1980s explores in depth the social and cultural history of Reagan's presidency. Troy describes how important Reagan-era attitudes were reflected in popular culture, television programs, and music. Reagan's optimism and easygoing style also helped overcome the malaise of the Jimmy Carter years. Rather than returning the United States to an unrealistic ideal represented by the politically conservative 1950s, "Reagan's brand of easy listening nationalism and feel good consumerist libertinism reassured many Americans, and conjured up warm nostalgic feelings while pushing the nation forward politically and culturally, for better and worse," Troy explained on the History News Network online. However, critics such as Philip Jenkins, writing in Books and Culture, caution that "many of the characteristic trends and symbols of the Eighties originated in the Carter era," and that defining Reagan as the political, social, and cultural architect of the 1980s may be premature. "Troy's readable book is impressive in its integration of political and social history, while he rightly recognizes that popular culture can provide an effective gauge of the public mood," commented Jenkins. He "makes an excellent case for Reagan's capacity as a leader, and for the real achievements of his administration," Jenkins noted. Troy "provides a balanced, thoughtful, and thoroughly entertaining account of Reagan's legacy" as president, commented Thomas J. Baldino in the Library Journal.

In Hillary Rodham Clinton: Polarizing First Lady, Troy examines the eight-year career of Bill Clinton's First Lady. (He does not deal with her independent career as senator from New York or as a candidate for the presidency in her own right.) Hillary Clinton broke with the traditional role of First Ladies from the beginning of her husband's race for the presidency in 1992 to the moment he left office nine years later. She was virtually unique among First Ladies in that she had a high-profile career of her own and worked with her husband as an equal partner in the race for the presidency and in his early years in office. The historian, said Elizabeth R. Hayford in the Library Journal, helps us "to understand and respect her strengths and idealism while also wincing at her arrogance and suffering her humiliations." "This," Vanessa Bush wrote in Booklist, "is an engrossing look at the behind-the-scenes ‘psychodrama’ of the Clinton White House."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, December 15, 1996, Margaret Flanagan, review of Affairs of State: The Rise and Rejection of the Presidential Couple since World War II, p. 707; October 15, 2006, Vanessa Bush, review of Hillary Rodham Clinton: Polarizing First Lady, p. 21.

Books and Culture, March-April, 2005, Philip Jenkins, "Who Invented the 1980s?," review of Morning in America: How Ronald Reagan Invented the 1980s, p. 18.

Choice, March, 2007, M. Rose, review of Hillary Rodham Clinton, p. 1246.

History: Review of New Books, spring, 2000, Philip H. Vaughan, review of Mr. and Mrs. President: From the Trumans to the Clintons, p. 100.

Library Journal, January, 1997, Karl Helicher, review of Affairs of State, p. 125; March 1, 2005, Thomas J. Baldino, review of Morning in America, p. 99; September 1, 2006, Elizabeth R. Hayford, review of Hillary Rodham Clinton, p. 157.

Presidential Studies Quarterly, fall, 1997, Robert P. Watson, review of Affairs of State, p. 863.

Publishers Weekly, October 11, 1991, review of See How They Ran: The Changing Role of the Presidential Candidate, p. 56; November 11, 1996, review of Affairs of State, p. 62; August 14, 2006, review of Hillary Rodham Clinton, p. 196.

Reason, August-September, 1997, John J. Pitney, Jr, review of Affairs of State, p. 60.

Washington Monthly, December, 1991, Ann Grimes, review of See How They Ran, p. 59.

Weekly Standard, May 23, 2005, Steven F. Hayward, "Reagan in Retrospect," review of Morning in America, p. 31.

ONLINE

AnnOnline,http://www.annonline.com/ (September 9, 2007), "Interview with Gil Troy."

Gil Troy Home Page,http://www.giltroy.com (September 9, 2007).

History News Network Web site,http://www.hnn.us/ (September 9, 2007), "Gil Troy Interviews Gil Troy about His New Book on Ronald Reagan."

McGill University Department of History Web site,http://www.arts.mcgill.ca/ (September 9, 2007), biography of Gil Troy.

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