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KLIATTThrough a series of essays, historians from around the US present an overview of the American presidents from George Washington to George W. Bush. The editors state in the introduction that the essays are not a collection of presidential biographies but rather the focus is on how the presidents "perceived and used the office and how the office has changed as a result." As a reference source, the essays provide a panoramic view of American political history from the beginnings of the US Constitution with its brief description of the duties of the executive branch to the present day's growth and development of power as well as constraints and layers of federal bureaucracy. The changing and expanding economic, social, and political culture of the US over the years also has affected the ability of those who have held the office. These aspects play an important role in the development of each essay as the 43 presidents have dealt with the myriad of forces that impinge on the presidential office. The essays are fascinating reading, providing an appreciation of the trials and triumphs of executives, popular and unpopular, noted or obscure, as well as icons who lived in the White House. KLIATT Codes: SA—Recommended for senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 2004, Houghton Mifflin, 572p. illus. bibliog. index., Ages 15 to adult.
—Mary T. Gerrity