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From Harding to Trump: How Presidents Over the Last Century Have Impacted America

Why Ronald Gruner's Latest Book Reminds Us Just How Much The Executive Branch Shapes Our National Destiny.

Article Written by Dave Reynolds

From Warren G. Harding to Donald J. Trump, Ronald Gruner explores the tenures of 17 presidents across 100 years in his refreshingly nonpartisan book, We The Presidents: How American Presidents Shaped the Last Century.

“If you study presidential administrations over the last century, you’ll find history often repeating itself. America First movements, for example, surged during the Harding, Roosevelt, Reagan and Trump administrations. Other trends from immigration to taxation followed similar paths,” Gruner commented in a recent interview.

“Every generation tends to believe they live in unique times. But today's issues most often had their roots in earlier presidencies.”

Among the many instances Gruner cites in his book: The Vietnam War can only be understood by considering the decisions made by Presidents Truman and Eisenhower during the Cold War.

Today's battles over immigration were rooted during the presidencies of Harding and Coolidge as refugees flooded the country from Southern and Eastern Europe. The Ukraine War has roots in the Clinton administration, which encouraged NATO expansion to the East.

Rather than politics, We The Presidents focuses on what most Americans consider the key criterion of a successful presidency: the wellbeing of ordinary citizens. “For most Americans, that’s closely related to their pocketbooks,” Gruner said. “So, throughout the book are discussions covering economic growth, income distribution, taxation and related topics.”

Readers will also find numerous digressions discussing how disparate events from Shay’s Rebellion in 1786 to the Financial Panic of 1907 to the January 6 Capitol Insurrection have shaped America.

“My objective in writing We The Presidents was to provide readers a broader, more tolerant understanding of how and why America has evolved over the past century,” Gruner added.

Author Ronald Gruner

Ronald Gruner founded, and served as chief executive of three successful technology companies during his long career: Alliant Computer founded in 1982, in 1993 and Sky Analytics in 2009. Each firm was a pioneer and leader in its industry: Alliant in parallel processing, in investor relations and Sky in legal analytics.

During his thirty-five years as a chief executive, Gruner faced the challenges of making difficult decisions; balancing the interests of shareholders, customers and employees; and focusing on the long-term even as short-term pressures often seemed overwhelming. As a result, Gruner’s experience as an accomplished executive has resulted in a different breed of presidential history.

We The Presidents focuses on effects rather than causes, on results rather than politics; on economics rather than ideology; and on the connections linking presidential administrations rather than isolated presidencies.

Today Gruner lives with his wife, Nancy, in Naples, Florida where he is a private pilot, amateur radio operator, and consistently poor golfer.

We The Presidents: How American Presidents Shaped the Last Century is available from, and many other online booksellers.

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Dave Reynolds is a contributing writer for and a full-time writer with the U.S. Department of State. He enjoys sharing compelling stories and images about American society, culture, and life, and about the principles that underlie our nation’s foreign policy and engagement with the world.


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