The American Presidency: A Very Short Introduction

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Overview


The expansion of executive powers amid the war on terrorism has brought the presidency to the center of heated public debate. Now, in The American Presidency, presidential authority Charles O. Jones provides invaluable background to the current controversy, in a compact, reliable guide to the office of the chief executive.

This marvelously concise survey is packed with information about the presidency, some of it quite surprising. We learn, for example, that the Founders ...

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The American Presidency: A Very Short Introduction

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Overview


The expansion of executive powers amid the war on terrorism has brought the presidency to the center of heated public debate. Now, in The American Presidency, presidential authority Charles O. Jones provides invaluable background to the current controversy, in a compact, reliable guide to the office of the chief executive.

This marvelously concise survey is packed with information about the presidency, some of it quite surprising. We learn, for example, that the Founders adopted the word "president" over "governor" and other alternatives because it suggested a light hand, as in one who presides, rather than rules. Indeed, the Constitutional Convention first agreed to a weak chief executive elected by congress for one seven-year term, later calling for independent election and separation of powers. Jones sheds much light on how assertive leaders, such as Andrew Jackson, Theodore Roosevelt, and FDR enhanced the power of the presidency, and illuminating how such factors as philosophy (Reagan's anti-Communist conservatism), the legacy of previous presidencies (Jimmy Carter following Watergate), relations with Congress, and the impact of outside events have all influenced presidential authority. He also explores the rise of federal power and the dramatic expansion of federal agencies, showing how the president takes a direct hand in this vast bureaucracy, and he examines the political process of selecting presidents, from the days of deadlocked conventions to the rise of the primary after World War II.

"In 200 years," he writes, "the presidency had changed from that of a person--Washington followed by Adams, then Jefferson--to a presidential enterprise with a cast of thousands." Jones explains how this remarkable expansion has occurred and where it may lead in the future.

About the Series: Combining authority with wit, accessibility, and style, Very Short Introductions offer an introduction to some of life's most interesting topics. Written by experts for the newcomer, they demonstrate the finest contemporary thinking about the central problems and issues in hundreds of key topics, from philosophy to Freud, quantum theory to Islam.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"In this brief but timely book, a leading expert takes us back to the creation of the presidency and insightfully explains the challenges of executive leadership in a separated powers system." -- George C. Edwards III, Distinguished Professor of Political Science, Texas A&M University

"This crisp and succinct book provides a superb introduction to the American presidency for students and general readers and can be read with profit and pleasure by specialists. I recommend it wholeheartedly." -- Fred I. Greenstein, Professor of Politics Emeritus, Princeton University

"A superb overview of the U.S. Presidency, this slim volume also provides insightful commentary on the U.S. constitutional system by a distinguished scholar who has thought deeply about American government for half a century." -- James P. Pfiffner, University Professor, George Mason School of Public Policy

"Jones breathes new life into the discussions of the executive. He demonstrates the conundrum Presidents face when public expectations of the chief executive are neither supported by the powers invested in the office by the Framers nor by the powers accumulated since 1789. Students and scholars will learn a great deal about the presidency from this book." -- Martha Joynt Kumar, Professor of Political Science, Towson University

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195307016
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 6/3/2007
  • Series: Very Short Introductions Series
  • Pages: 192
  • Sales rank: 730,621
  • Product dimensions: 6.80 (w) x 4.40 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Charles O. Jones is Hawkins Professor of Political Science Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. His many books include The Presidency in a Separated System, Clinton and Congress, 1993-1996, and Passages to the Presidency.

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Table of Contents


Preface     ix
Acknowledgments     xi
List of Illustrations     xiii
List of Tables     xiv
Inventing the Presidency     1
The Presidency Finds Its Place     24
Electing Presidents (and Other Ways To Occupy the Oval Office)     43
Making and Remaking a Presidency     69
Connecting to and Leading the Government     87
Presidents at Work: Making Law and Doing Policy     109
Reform, Change, and Prospects for the Future     140
Appendix     167
Index     172
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 29, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    A Short and Informative Introduction to American Presidency

    No aspect of American politics, and certainly no other political office, attracts as much public attention as the office of the President. And yet, at the very founding of the American Republic, this office was nonexistent, and only came about after the realization that the much looser federation was not effective enough as a union. It took two hundred years plus for the presidency to evolve into what it is today: the most powerful political position in the World.

    The book is particularly good at explaining the nitty-gritty of the actual governing. It goes in some detail to explain all the offices and departments that report directly to the president, and explains their role with ample historical examples. This potentially very dry subject is handled adroitly and made interesting even for readers who may not have much interest in this area. The book is a good companion to the other recent very short introduction book on American politics, American Political Parties and Elections: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions).

    The chapters in this book, and the topics covered, are:

    1. Inventing the Presidency
    2. The Presidency Finds Its Place
    3. Electing Presidents (and Other Ways to Occupy the Oval Office)
    4. Making and Remaking a Presidency
    5. Connecting to and Leading the Government
    6. Presidents at Work: Making Law and Doing Policy
    7. Reform, Change and Prospects for the Future

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 12, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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