Tuesday, September 23, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

James | MacGregor Burns | Esteemed historian, 95

James MacGregor Burns, 95, a Pulitzer Prize-winning historian and political scientist, who analyzed the nature of presidential leadership and wrote candid biographies of Franklin D. Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy, died Tuesday at his home in Williamstown, Mass., said Susan Dunn, his companion and fellow historian.

The longtime Williams College professor helped coin two adjectives now common in politics: "transformational" leaders, with a vision to change the world, and "transactional" leaders, with the cunning to get things done - words used often during the 2008 presidential race for top Democratic contenders, the "transactional" Hillary Rodham Clinton and the "transformational" Barack Obama.

His two-volume biography of Roosevelt was praised by historians as a model of accessible, objective scholarship. The second volume, Roosevelt: Soldier of Freedom, was published in 1970 and won the Pulitzer and the National Book Award.

In his late 80s, he wrote a well-reviewed history of the Supreme Court, Packing the Court, and at 95, he completed a book on the Enlightenment, Fire and Light.

Mr. Burns was critical of most presidents, finding Bill Clinton too willing to compromise and George W. Bush too partisan. - AP

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