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The Presidency of George W. Bush: A First Historical Assessment

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Overview

The Presidency of George W. Bush brings together some of today's top American historians to offer the first in-depth look at one of the most controversial U.S. presidencies. Emotions surrounding the Bush presidency continue to run high—conservatives steadfastly defend its achievements, liberals call it a disgrace. This book examines the successes as well as the failures, covering every major aspect of Bush's two terms in office. It puts issues in broad historical context to reveal the forces that shaped and constrained Bush's presidency—and the ways his presidency reshaped the nation.

The Presidency of George W. Bush features contributions by Mary L. Dudziak, Gary Gerstle, David Greenberg, Meg Jacobs, Michael Kazin, Kevin M. Kruse, Nelson Lichtenstein, Fredrik Logevall, Timothy Naftali, James T. Patterson, and the book's editor, Julian E. Zelizer. Each chapter tackles some important aspect of Bush's administration—such as presidential power, law, the war on terror, the Iraq invasion, economic policy, and religion—and helps readers understand why Bush made the decisions he did. Taking readers behind the headlines of momentous events, the contributors show how the quandaries of the Bush presidency were essentially those of conservatism itself, which was confronted by the hard realities of governance. They demonstrate how in fact Bush frequently disappointed the Right, and how Barack Obama's 2008 election victory cast the very tenets of conservatism in doubt.

History will be the ultimate judge of Bush's legacy, and the assessment begins with this book.

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Editorial Reviews

New Republic
An interesting collection of essays.
— Nicholas Lemann
Australian
Julian E. Zelizer, an academic from Princeton and political commentator for CNN and The New York Times, has endeavoured to telescope the assessment of George W. Bush's presidency. Indeed, Zelizer and his distinguished fellow contributors, all senior academics from prestigious institutions ranging from Georgetown's Michael Kazin to Brown's James T. Patterson, make a virtue of their early conclusions about the 43rd president by highlighting that this is a first historical assessment. By and large they have written a critical but penetrating analysis of the years 2001 to 2009. A strength of this book is that it seeks to place the Bush presidency in the context of earlier Republican administrations.
— Stephen Loosley
Choice
A collaboration of distinguished scholars, this collection of a dozen essays evaluating the presidency of George W. Bush analyzes his performance in foreign and domestic policy.
49th Parallel
[T]he measured judgements of these essays are a welcome corrective for a presidency, and a president, that too often slide toward lurid caricature in public debate. Laying bare the appalling flaws and overlooked virtues of the Bush presidency, this judicious and informative collection is an impressive opening salvo in what is likely to be a long war.
— Patrick Andelic
New Republic - Nicholas Lemann
An interesting collection of essays.
Australian - Stephen Loosley
Julian E. Zelizer, an academic from Princeton and political commentator for CNN and The New York Times, has endeavoured to telescope the assessment of George W. Bush's presidency. Indeed, Zelizer and his distinguished fellow contributors, all senior academics from prestigious institutions ranging from Georgetown's Michael Kazin to Brown's James T. Patterson, make a virtue of their early conclusions about the 43rd president by highlighting that this is a first historical assessment. By and large they have written a critical but penetrating analysis of the years 2001 to 2009. A strength of this book is that it seeks to place the Bush presidency in the context of earlier Republican administrations.
49th Parallel - Patrick Andelic
[T]he measured judgements of these essays are a welcome corrective for a presidency, and a president, that too often slide toward lurid caricature in public debate. Laying bare the appalling flaws and overlooked virtues of the Bush presidency, this judicious and informative collection is an impressive opening salvo in what is likely to be a long war.
Canadian Journal of History - Andrew L. Johns
Ultimately, the verdict of this thought-provoking anthology is that the Bush presidency, while certainly polarizing from a partisan perspective, was historically significant in terms of the development of American politics, policy, and institutions. If Zelizer and his colleagues do not have all the answers, they have certainly helped to provide a starting point for future studies of the obvious flaws and surprising virtues of this pivotal administration.
From the Publisher
"An interesting collection of essays."—Nicholas Lemann, New Republic

"Julian E. Zelizer, an academic from Princeton and political commentator for CNN and The New York Times, has endeavoured to telescope the assessment of George W. Bush's presidency. Indeed, Zelizer and his distinguished fellow contributors, all senior academics from prestigious institutions ranging from Georgetown's Michael Kazin to Brown's James T. Patterson, make a virtue of their early conclusions about the 43rd president by highlighting that this is a first historical assessment. By and large they have written a critical but penetrating analysis of the years 2001 to 2009. A strength of this book is that it seeks to place the Bush presidency in the context of earlier Republican administrations."—Stephen Loosley, Australian

"Zelizer has gathered an A-list of American historians who present a detailed analysis of the presidency of George W. Bush. Each essay examines a particular facet of Bush's two terms, including such topics as terrorism, faith-based initiatives, energy policy, education, and the war in Iraq. . . . Zelizer's work provides a valuable benchmark for historians to build upon."Library Journal

"A collaboration of distinguished scholars, this collection of a dozen essays evaluating the presidency of George W. Bush analyzes his performance in foreign and domestic policy."Choice

"[T]he measured judgements of these essays are a welcome corrective for a presidency, and a president, that too often slide toward lurid caricature in public debate. Laying bare the appalling flaws and overlooked virtues of the Bush presidency, this judicious and informative collection is an impressive opening salvo in what is likely to be a long war."—Patrick Andelic, 49th Parallel

"Ultimately, the verdict of this thought-provoking anthology is that the Bush presidency, while certainly polarizing from a partisan perspective, was historically significant in terms of the development of American politics, policy, and institutions. If Zelizer and his colleagues do not have all the answers, they have certainly helped to provide a starting point for future studies of the obvious flaws and surprising virtues of this pivotal administration."—Andrew L. Johns, Canadian Journal of History

"Julian Zelizer's edited collection, The Presidency of George W. Bush, may not be, as its subtitle proclaims, the first historically based volume on Bush, but it is certainly one of the most rigorous and balanced. The book . . . is especially interesting for its focus on the deep instability of contemporary American conservatism and the ways in which the Bush administration can be understood as contributing to that instability. . . . The result is a nuanced and interesting account not just of the history of the Bush presidency, but also of its place in the larger social, cultural, and political trajectories of U.S. politics."—Mary E. Stuckey, Rhetoric & Public Affairs

Library Journal
Zelizer (history & public affairs, Princeton Univ.; Jimmy Carter) has gathered an A-list of American historians who present a detailed analysis of the presidency of George W. Bush. Each essay examines a particular facet of Bush's two terms, including such topics as terrorism, faith-based initiatives, energy policy, education, and the war in Iraq. Most of the 12 contributions are scholarly assessments without the partisan political rhetoric found on newspaper op-ed pages or cable TV news shows. Some of the essays, particularly those on the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, go over territory that will be familiar to most readers. The more interesting chapters, one by Zelizer, delve into Bush's place in the American conservative movement. Another thought-provoking treatise is David Greenberg's (history, journalism, & media studies, Rutgers Univ.) study of the Bush administration's denigration of professional expertise on subjects such as global warming, judicial nominations, and evolution. VERDICT It may be too soon for many readers to consider a historical analysis of the George W. Bush presidency. But Zelizer's work provides a valuable benchmark for historians to build upon.—Robert Bruce Slater, Stroudsburg, PA
Publishers Weekly
Distinguished historians from MIT, Georgetown, Princeton, and other leading universities recount, almost exclusively, George W. Bush's failures, from the poorly planned and falsely fomented war in Iraq to the slow, tragic response to Hurricane Katrina. While none of the writers try for complete remove, they do an admirable job of bolstering their opinions with facts and even occasionally assess a rare success. Kevin M. Kruse, for instance, examines Bush's well-funded fight against AIDS in Africa, but also the collapse of his faith-based charitable programs. In "Minorities, Multiculturalism and the President of George W. Bush," Gary Gerstle shows keen insight into Bush's relationship with Latinos and African-Americans, writing that Bush "proved surprisingly cavalier about the discharge of even basic government duties," words that will no doubt remind readers of the disintegration of the American economy at the end of Bush's second term. Despite its title, this isn't the first assessment of this divisive president, but it may be the most reactionary.
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780691149011
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 9/13/2010
  • Pages: 398
  • Sales rank: 1,165,884
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author


Julian E. Zelizer is professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University. He is the author of "Arsenal of Democracy, On Capitol Hill", and "Taxing America". He is a frequent contributor to CNN.com, "Politico", and the "New York Times", among others.
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Table of Contents

List of Contributors ix
Acknowledgments xi
Chapter 1: Establishment Conservative: The Presidency of George W. Bush by JULIAN E. ZELIZER 1
Chapter 2: How Conservatives Learned to Stop Worrying and
Love Presidential Power by JULIAN E. ZELIZER 15
Chapter 3: A Sword and a Shield: The Uses of Law in the
Bush Administration by MARY L. DUDZIAK 39
Chapter 4: George W. Bush and the "War on Terror" by TIMOTHY NAFTALI 59
Chapter 5: Anatomy of an Unnecessary War: The Iraq Invasion by FREDRIK LOGEVALL 88
Chapter 6: Transformative Economic Policies: Tax Cutting, Stimuli, and Bailouts by JAMES T. PATTERSON 114
Chapter 7: Wreaking Havoc from Within: George W. Bush's Energy Policy in Historical Perspective by MEG JACOBS 139
Chapter 8: Ideology and Interest on the Social Policy Home Front by NELSON LICHTENSTEIN 169
Chapter 9: Creating Their Own Reality: The Bush Administration and Expertise in a Polarized Age by DAVID GREENBERG 199
Chapter 10: Compassionate Conservatism: Religion in the Age of George W. Bush by KEVIN M. KRUSE 227
Chapter 11: Minorities, Multiculturalism, and the Presidency of George W. Bush by GARY GERSTLE 252
Chapter 12: From Hubris to Despair: George W. Bush and the Conservative Movement by MICHAEL KAZIN 282
Notes 303
Index 363

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