In the American political system we know today, courage and the presidency are rarely spoken of in the same sentence. With a few notable exceptions, recent occupants of the Oval Office have appeared all too willing to sacrifice principle for the sake of political expediency. Extreme partisanship, special-interest money, and an unhealthy obsession with opinion polls have discouraged modern presidents from assuming unpopular stands. Forgotten is the axiomatic wisdom of Andrew Jackson: One man of courage makes a majority. Thomas Whalen's A Higher Purpose seeks to prove the inherent truth behind Jackson's words by relating the stories of nine historic decisions made by commanders-in-chief over two centuries of American history.