Summary: Stephen Skowronek's wholly innovative study demonstrates that presidents are persistent agents of change, continually disrupting and transforming the political landscape. In an afterword to this new edition, the author examines "third way" leadership as it has been practiced by Bill Clinton and others. These leaders are neither great repudiators nor orthodox innovators. They challenge received political categories, mix seemingly antithetical doctrines, and ...show moreoften take their opponents' issues as their own. As the 1996 election confirmed, third way leadership has great electoral appeal. The question is whether Clinton in his second term will escape the convulsive end so often associated with the type.
"A magisterial work, one of the most important studies of the presidency--indeed, of American politics--ever written...[Skowronek] comes very close to identifying the root problem affecting presidents...This is the all-important fact that the Constitution is unchanging and nondeveloped, while at all times intersecting with a social, economic, and political world. The whole work may be read as an extended, powerful, and penetrating meditation on some of the global consequences of this fact."
--Walter Dean Burnham, American Political Science Review "This is a remarkable book...A skilled practitioner of the use of historical evidence systematically to understand not only the evolution, but also the current nature, of American political institutions, [Skowronek] examines the whole crowded history of the presidency to catalog and organize the two hundred year experience in a fresh and striking fashion."
--Joel Silbey, Review of Politics "Skowronek...brings illuminating insights to each president that he discusses...A major theoretical contribution to the study of the presidency."
--Richard M. Pious, Political Science Quarterly "In this pathbreaking work, Stephen Skowronek escapes from `secular time' to view presidents in what he calls `political time,' meaning incumbents' relationships to their predecessors and to the status quo...This rich, insightful, resonant volume merits reading and rereading. It is destined to be a classic of presidential scholarship."
--Gil Troy, Journal of American History ...show less
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