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SAGE Publications

Cover Image: The Presidency and the Political System, Tenth Edition
  • Date: 09/24/2013
  • Format: Print Paperback
  • Price: $76.00
  • ISBN: 978-1-4522-4043-5
  • Pages: 536
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The Presidency and the Political System, Tenth Edition
Michael Nelson, Rhodes College

For more than 25 years, The Presidency and the Political System has showcased the best of presidential studies and research with top-notch scholars writing specifically for an undergraduate audience. With its insightful original essays offering historical context as well as incisive analysis, this volume has proven an indispensable guide to students of the presidency. Editor Michael Nelson ensures that each contribution meets his exacting standards while offering helpful headnotes that introduce each essay. The Tenth Edition features current scholarship through revised, yet time-tested, essays that continue to explore the themes of presidential power and effectiveness, most notably in a new chapter from Stephen Skrownek. Contributions by new authors Lara M. Brown, Elvin T. Lim, and Roger B. Porter complete this up-to-date edition to reflect Barack Obama’s first term, the 2012 election, and an early assessment of Obama’s second term agenda.


  • All returning contributors have revised their essays to reflect recent events and developments as well as the latest scholarship and trends in the field.
  • Four brand new chapters:
    • “The Development of Presidential Power: Conservative Insurgency and Constitutional Construction” by Stephen Skowronek
    • “The Presidency and the Nominating Process: Aspirants, Parties, and Selections” by Lara M. Brown
    • “The Presidency and the Media: Two Faces of Democracy” by Elvin T. Lim
    • “The Three Presidencies: Power and Policy” by Roger B. Porter


  • The book challenges readers to evaluate the executive using political science theory and empirical evidence.
  • Incisive and insightful original essays provide context for, and in-depth assessment of, recent presidential politics.
  • The chapters are accessible yet provide enough depth to prompt interesting and vigorous class discussion.
Table of Contents
1. The Two Constitutional Presidencies 
     Jeffrey Tulis 
2. Studying the Presidency 
     Lyn Ragsdale 
3. The Development of Presidential Power: Conservative Insurgency and Constitutional Construction 
     Stephen Skowronek 
4. The Presidency in History: Leading from the Eye of the Storm 
     Marc Landy, Sidney Milkis 
5. Presidential Competence 
     Paul Quirk 
6. The Psychological Presidency 
     Michael Nelson 
7. The Presidency and the Nominating Process: Aspirants, Parties and Selections 
     Lara Brown 
8. The Faulty Premises of the Electoral College 
     George Edwards 
9. The Presidential Spectacle 
     Bruce Miroff 
10. The Presidency and the Media: Two Faces of Democracy 
     Elvin Lim 
11. The Presidency and Interest Groups: Allies, Adversaries, and Policy Leadership 
     Daniel Tichenor 
12. The Presidency and Political Parties 
     Sidney Milkis 
13. The Institutional Presidency 
     John Burke 
14. The Presidency and the Bureaucracy: The Levers of Presidential Control 
     David Lewis, Terry Moe 
15. The President and Congress 
     Matthew Dickinson 
16. The Presidency and the Judiciary 
     David Yalof 
17. The Presidency and Unilateral Power: A Taxonomy 
     Andrew Rudalevige 
18. The Three Presidencies: Power and Policy 
     Roger Porter 
19. The Presidency at War: Unchecked Power, Uncertain Leadership 
     Andrew Polsky
“This is an excellent reader that provides a variety of cutting-edge chapters useful to a course on the presidency at the graduate or undergraduate level. Each chapter includes chapter headnotes that provide students with clear guidance on where the piece is headed and the work in each chapter is both analytically advanced and accessible.” - Lawrence Becker, California State University, Northridge

“I think this is one of the best readers available in the subfield of presidency studies. Its strength is that it balances discussion of the major theoretical advancements with current issues. I also value that (nearly) every author at some point in his/her chapter addresses Neustadt's Presidential Power. This helps students to see why a book originally published 40+ years ago is still relevant, and also allows them to appreciate how research happens in increments; each of the authors takes a bit of a different approach to addressing questions that have been at the center of presidency studies for quite some time. The organization of each chapter is largely consistent, which I know my students value. Finally, the breadth of the text is another strength. This book manages to touch on all the major issues (and stays up to date) that ought to be addressed in an upper-level survey class on the presidency.” - Maryann Gallagher, DePauw University

“One of the biggest strengths of the volume is that the chapters correspond to major topics in the study of the presidency, so it is very easy to pair the book with one's syllabus. I also like the fact that the readings are accessible to undergraduates, but not so basic or devoid of theory and empirics that they are uninteresting to professors. Finally, the chapters spark a lot of classroom discussion, which makes the volume fun to teach from and keeps me coming back to it year after year.” - Jennifer Jerit, Stony Brook University

The Presidency and the Political System is the best reader on the topic in the market today. Its strengths include breadth of coverage, chapters written by prestigious authors, and a line-up of high-impact articles.” - Scott C. James, University of California, Los Angeles

“This is one of the best books on the market for students of the presidency. Like the field itself, it relies upon a variety of theoretical perspectives and approaches. It is one of the best readers in the field of the presidency and American politics generally.” - Christian Grose, University of Southern California
Michael Nelson, Rhodes College

Michael Nelson is the Fulmer Professor of Political Science at Rhodes College and a Senior Fellow of the Miller Center of Public Affairs at the University of Virginia. His recent books include: The Presidency and the Political System, 9th Ed., The Evolving Presidency: Landmark Documents, 1787-2010, 4th Ed., and The Elections of 2008. More than fifty of his articles have been reprinted in anthologies of political science, history, music, and English composition, including articles on subjects as varied as baseball, C. S. Lewis, and Frank Sinatra.

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