Election101 — The Presidency


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What happens after an election? The months and even years before a presidential election are dominated by feverish discourse and unyielding passion on both sides of the political aisle. After the election is over, it becomes time to start that process all over again in anticipation of the next major election. It is a curious thing – the United States is perpetually in election mode. There is no off switch. What strangely seems to sometimes fall through the cracks is The Presidency itself, a sacrosanct American institution beginning with George Washington. His peers likely would have made him something akin to an American monarch, serving as President for life, but Washington boldly refused. Since then no President has served more than two terms except FDR.

A presidency raises many fascinating questions. How exactly does the sitting President govern? How does he interact with Congress, the Supreme Court, and the American people? How much power does he truly have? An example of these types of questions is the recent debate surrounding Presidential appointments. Some believe that the President’s power to almost unilaterally appoint people to key positions is a dangerous tool. Others believe that the power of Presidential appointment is vital and must be preserved in an age where Congress is seeing an increasing amount of political authority. David E. Lewis discusses these questions in his award-winning book The Politics of Presidential Appointments, which is featured on this page.

Below you will find a sampling of our books that deal with The Presidency. They run the gamut of Presidential topics including party building, executive orders, the use of rhetoric, and Supreme Court appointments. One thing that is shown not only by this diverse list of books but also throughout presidential history itself is that the institution of the presidency is a constantly evolving entity. It has been used by different Presidents for vastly different purposes. There may not be one immutable definition of what it means to be “the President.” One thing is for sure – whoever wins this upcoming election will continue to add to the long and captivating history of the American President.

–Adam Epstein, Princeton University Press


Exclusive Excerpt

Click here to download an article on local government appointments

Excerpted from The Concise Princeton Encyclopedia of American Political History.


Featured Book


The Politics of Presidential Appointments
Political Control and Bureaucratic Performance
David E. Lewis


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reading list



The Reading List

How Bush Rules

Chronicles of a Radical Regime
Sidney Blumenthal
The Presidency in the Era of 24-Hour News

Jeffrey E. Cohen
The Next Justice

Repairing the Supreme Court Appointments Process
Christopher L. Eisgruber
Presidential Party Building

Dwight D. Eisenhower to George W. Bush
Daniel J. Galvin
The Spirit of Compromise

Why Governing Demands It and Campaigning Undermines It
Amy Gutmann & Dennis Thompson
Power without Persuasion

The Politics of Direct Presidential Action
William G. Howell
The Politics of Presidential Appointments

Political Control and Bureaucratic Performance
David E. Lewis
With the Stroke of a Pen

Executive Orders and Presidential Power
Kenneth R. Mayer
Managing the President’s Program

Presidential Leadership and Legislative Policy Formulation
Andrew Rudalevige

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