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

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

by Julian Zelizer

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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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781400836307
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Publication date: 09/13/2010
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 408
File size: 1 MB

About 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, Politico, and the New York Times, among others.

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

What People are Saying About This


George W. Bush once stated that 'we'll all be dead' by the time history casts its judgment on his presidency. Instead, in this engaging and timely portrait of the Bush era, eleven leading scholars assess the 'war on terror,' the resurrection of the imperial presidency, the effects of tax cuts and corporate deregulation, and other foreign and domestic policies promoted by big-government conservatism. While acknowledging the administration's political accomplishments, the contributors to this volume emphasize the ultimate failures of the Bush presidency and the conservative movement's strategies of governance.
Matthew D. Lassiter, University of Michigan

Alice Kessler-Harris

This is a superb collection of essays. I am impressed with the range of issues they cover and the lucidity with which each essay illuminates a particular topic. Their interleaved and overlapping evidence reminds a general reader of the layers of meaning embedded in every political decision taken by the Bush administration—and the sometimes unfortunate consequences. This is an important and timely book.
Alice Kessler-Harris, author of "In Pursuit of Equity"


With clarity and precision, some of America's most prominent historians of politics, law, and international relations examine the controversial presidency of George W. Bush. Their assessments of Bush's administration are sober, rigorous, and eye-opening. Together these essays will provide a foundation for the next generation of scholarship on early twenty-first-century America.
Thomas J. Sugrue, author of "Not Even Past: Barack Obama and the Burden of Race"

Ira Katznelson

Analytically shrewd and historically rich, this harvest of a book convenes a group of leading historians to assess the country's recent past. Ranging from tax cuts to terrorism, and encompassing questions of ideology, multiculturalism, and presidential capacity, the contributions to this volume establish the scope and agenda for future studies of George W. Bush's tumultuous presidency.
Ira Katznelson, Columbia University


An all-star cast of historians examines the perplexing presidency of George W. Bush—the 'compassionate conservative' who frequently ended up allied with the hard right, the 'uniter' who presided over one of the nation's most divisive political eras, the advocate of 'humility' on the world stage who fiercely championed unilateral presidential powers. After the journalists and pundits have had their say, the historians are here to put Bush's tumultuous tenure in historical perspective. An essential resource for anyone seeking to understand contemporary American politics.
Jacob S. Hacker, coauthor of "Winner-Take-All Politics" and "Off Center"


This impressive collection features brilliant essays by some of America's best historians on the presidency of George W. Bush. It's all here—from the Bush v. Gore Supreme Court decision that sealed Bush's first-term victory to the stunning financial crisis that closed his tenure in office. This stimulating and highly accessible volume is must reading for scholars, journalists, and concerned citizens.
Eric M. Patashnik, author of "Reforms at Risk"

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