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The Power of the American Presidency


Michael A. Genovese

Publication Date - July 2000

ISBN: 9780195125450

288 pages
6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

Retail Price to Students: $84.99


In its more than 200-year history, the office of the President of the United States has undergone a variety of dramatic changes. Because our founding fathers left the privileges and responsibilities of the job constitutionally vague and ill-defined, each occupant of the office--from George Washington to Bill Clinton--has tried to set the limits of presidential power as he has seen fit based on the domestic and international circumstances of the day as well as on his own ambition and abilities. In The Power of the American Presidency, Michael A. Genovese, one of the best known and respected scholars on the presidency, takes students on a journey through the personalities and politics of some of the most fascinating and at times powerful men in American history. Organized chronologically, the text offers an overview of the evolution and elasticity of presidential power by providing case studies of each president's personal characteristics and the defining historical events of each administration. From Abraham Lincoln, who stretched the boundaries of presidential power during the Civil War, to nearly forgotten presidents like Van Buren, Garfield, and Fillmore, who led weak administrations with limited power, Genovese presents the history of our country's highest office with insight, balanced judgment, and humor. The Power of the American Presidency will be widely used in undergraduate courses on the American Presidency as well as in courses on American history, American studies, and political science. It will also be of interest to anyone who wishes to gain a keener insight into the workings of the presidency.

About the Author(s)

Michael A. Genovese is Professor of Political Science and Director of the Institute for Leadership Studies at Loyola Marymount University.


"A fascinating account of all the presidents, copiously illustrated and documented, with an arresting set of conclusions about the past, present, and future of the presidency."--James MacGregor Burns, Academy of Leadership

"Most students enter college courses on the presidency with a limited grasp of the institution's origins and evolution. Michael Genovese provides them with the essential information on presidential history while stimulating them to ponder the question of how the presidency has fit into American democracy. The bright spots and blemishes of presidential history, the Lincolns and the Hardings, are all here, vividly evoked in Genovese's fast-paced and colorful narrative."--Bruce Miroff, State University of New York, Albany

"Michael Genovese's The Power of the American Presidency is a pungently written and balanced overview of the development of the American presidency over the past two centuries. Genovese puts into perspective the shifting constitutional balance as well as the idiosyncratic personalities of all forty-two of our presidents. If you want a bird's eye view of the presidency, this is your book. The perfect antidote for students who "don't know much about history."--James P. Pfiffner, George Mason University

Table of Contents

    1. "A Republic, If You Can Keep IT"
    2. The Foundational Presidency: George Washington to John Quincy Adams
    3. Democratization to Decline/Crisis to Enlargement: Andrw Jackson to Abraham Lincoln
    4. Reaction and Shrinking/The World Stage and Enlargement: Andrew Jackson to Woodrow Wilson
    5. Republicanizatin and Retreat/Crisis and the Creation of the 'Modern' Presidency: Warren Harding to FDR
    6. The Cold War/Heroic Presidency: Harry S. Truman to John F. Kennedy
    7. An Imperial to an Imperiled Presidency: LBJ to Ronald Reagan
    8. The Post Cold War Paradox: George Bush to Bill Clinton
    9. Conclusion: The Presidency in the New Millennium
    Selected Bibliography