The American Presidency

In honor of President’s Day, our Review of the Week features a unique perspective on the history of the American presidency

Presidential government

Ginsberg, Benjamin. Yale, 2016
492p bibl index afp, 9780300212068 $45.00

Ginsberg’s new work is destined to become the quintessential textbook on the American presidency. Ginsberg (Johns Hopkins Univ.) moves away from the traditional focus on leadership styles and personality traits presidential scholars employed in the last half of the 20th century to study the chief executive. Instead, he examines the presidency through a “historical-institutional” approach that emphasizes both history and institutions as keys to understanding the growth of presidential power. Ginsberg argues that the Constitution puts Congress at an institutional disadvantage, and that ambitious and talented chief executives have used this advantage to expand the powers of the presidency. Ginsberg remains true to his approach and skillfully interweaves it through each chapter of the text. The work is well documented and includes both classical and cutting-edge presidential scholarship. Ginsberg includes an interesting collection of vignettes about the presidency that he titles “Photo Essays.” The fascinating content of these vignettes includes such topics as first spouses and presidential eligibility. In conclusion, this work provides the presidential scholar and student with a comprehensive, cogent, intelligent, and up-to-date examination of the American presidency.

Summing Up: Essential. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty.
J. R. Hedtke, Cabrini College
Subject: Social & Behavioral Sciences – Political Science – U.S. Politics
Choice Issue: Sep 2016