Why Presidents Fail

Hardcover (Print)
Buy New
Buy New from BN.com
$76.40
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $75.72
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 10%)
Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (3) from $75.72   
  • New (3) from $75.72   

Overview

Presidents are surrounded by political strategists and White House counsel who presumably know enough to avoid making the same mistakes as their predecessors. Why, then, do the same kinds of presidential failures occur over and over again? Why Presidents Fail answers this question by examining presidential fiascos, quagmires, and risky business-the kind of failure that led President Kennedy to groan after the Bay of Pigs invasion, 'How could I have been so stupid?' In this book, Richard M. Pious looks at nine cases that have become defining events in presidencies from Dwight D. Eisenhower and the U-2 Flights to George W. Bush and Iraqi WMDs. He uses these cases to draw generalizations about presidential power, authority, rationality, and legitimacy. And he raises questions about the limits of presidential decision-making, many of which fly in the face of the conventional wisdom about the modern presidency.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

James Pfiffner
As Richard Pious traces the anatomy of presidential failures, he argues that, under conditions of high pressure and great uncertainty, presidents too often engage in “situational constitutionalism” and fail to distinguish between their personal stakes and the nation’s best interests. His carefully reconstructed and detailed case studies do not present merely the conventional wisdom about some obvious presidential blunders, but include incisive analyses of the underlying dynamics of presidential failures that contain important lessons for future presidents and citizens alike.
CHOICE
Government executives, for their part, should be required to study this book closely and incorporate the lessons of executive failure. Highly recommended.
Public Administration Review
His particular lens of anaylsis deepens our understanding of how presidents come to make failed policy choices.
Presidential Studies Quarterly
Why Presidents Fail will engage students and educate us all. Filled with wisdom and innovative thinking, it is a volume everyone interested in the presidency will want to read.
Choice
Government executives, for their part, should be required to study this book closely and incorporate the lessons of executive failure. Highly recommended.
Publishers Weekly
Barnard College political science professor Pious examines nine episodes in presidential politics from the past 60 years that illustrate the "fiascoes... 'deep doo-doo'...quagmires and swamps and risky business" that shake even the most powerful office in the free world. Pious has no shortage of material: among other events presented for consideration are the Bay of Pigs, Iran-Contra, the first Bush's "read my lips" tax promise, Clinton-era health care and Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. Rather than "assigning blame after the fact," Pious discusses theories of politics, presidential decision-making and advisors, and how presidential actions play with voters to determine "how presidents might avoid crash-and-burn events in the future." For solutions, Barnard looks to "emerging sciences" like risk management, operations research, and information theory to create "robust decision making systems: those that will operate reliably even when component parts are unreliable and interact unpredictably." Pious has researched each case in great detail, yielding much information that may be new to readers, and provides a thorough bibliography. Appropriate for high school and college study, this will also have great appeal for devotees of poli-sci and presidential history.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal

In this scholarly book, Pious (American studies, Barnard Coll.; The War on Terrorism and the Rule of Law) addresses the problems of executive-branch shortcomings by using risk-management theory to illustrate the common denominator of all presidential failures. He analyzes egregious mistakes across party lines from Eisenhower to the current administration and postulates that it isn't the type of decision that leads to failure but inherent flaws in the way risk is ascertained by those in power. A lack of credible information, the prevalence of political posturing by staff, and weak adversarial understanding are some of the culprits. Unfortunately, Pious's prescribed solutions-e.g., shrinking the sphere of the President's personal influence to streamline decision making, eliminating bloated bureaucracy, and assuring that the executive branch uses political research instead of creating it-are not simple or easily applicable. This well-written work, which includes extensive footnotes and resources for further study, is recommended for academic libraries.
—Elizabeth White

CHOICE - S. Q. Kelly
Government executives, for their part, should be required to study this book closely and incorporate the lessons of executive failure. Highly recommended.
CHOICE - S.Q. Kelly
Government executives, for their part, should be required to study this book closely and incorporate the lessons of executive failure. Highly recommended.
George C. Edwards III
Why Presidents Fail will engage students and educate us all. Filled with wisdom and innovative thinking, it is a volume everyone interested in the presidency will want to read.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780742562844
  • Publisher: The Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group Inc
  • Publication date: 7/25/2008
  • Pages: 330
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Richard M. Pious is Adolf S. and Effie E. Ochs Professor of American Studies in the political science department at Barnard College and the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Introduction: Presidential Fiascoes Chapter 2 Chapter 1. Reputation: Eisenhower and the U-2 Flights Chapter 3 Chapter 2. Power Stakes: Kennedy and the Bay of Pigs Chapter 4 Chapter 3. Compellence: Johnson and the Vietnam Escalation Chapter 5 Chapter 4. Command: Ford and the Mayaguez Chapter 6 Chapter 5. Rhetoric: Carter and the Energy Crisis Chapter 7 Chapter 6. Prerogative: Reagan and the Iran-Contra Affair Chapter 8 Chapter 7. Gamesmanship: Bush and the Budget Chapter 9 Chapter 8. Program Innovation: Clinton and Health Care Chapter 10 Chapter 9. Parallel Governance: Bush and Iraqi WMD Chapter 11 Chapter 10. Presidents Unbound: Crises of Authority and Legitimacy Chapter 12 Chapter 11. Risk and Resilience: Toward a White House Learning Curve

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)