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: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.
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"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
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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