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Bitter Harvest: FDR, Presidential Power and the Growth of the Presidential Branch Paperback – February 13, 1999

ISBN-13: 978-0521653954 ISBN-10: 0521653959

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 284 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (February 13, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521653959
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521653954
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 5.9 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #976,363 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Bitter Harvest is a substantive and meaty book. It is well researched, clearly written, well-reasoned and closely argued." H-Net Reviews

"This detailed study of Roosevelt's administrative strategy seeks new insights into how contemporary presidents might derive better service from their advisers by emulating FDR's practices....Dickinson's study may well inaugurate another round of reexaminations focused on FDR." American Political Science Review

"Bitter Harvest is a substantive and meaty book. It is well researched, clearly written, well-reasoned and closely argued." H-Net Reviews

"Dickinson's book is of great value to those interested in FDR, his administrative style, and his unique approach to governing. The insights the author draws are well documented and can serve scholars interested in further developing the area under investigation. Finally, the book does serve as an alternative to those advocating a highly-structured executive branch. The lessons for future presidents are worth noting." Presidential Studies Quarterly

"Dickinson has written a provocative volume whose prescriptions will engage political scientists and those analysis of Roosevelt's policy making will interest New Deal historians....this book is an impressive piece of scholarship thoroughly grounded in the political science secondary literature....this is a thought-provoking study of an important topic." American Historical Review

Book Description

This book argues that modern presidents could learn much from Franklin Roosevelt's method of organizing his presidency. Roosevelt consciously avoided a large, functionally specialized White House bureaucracy. Instead, he developed staff agencies composed mostly of civil servants and personally managed them using competitive administrative practices. Matthew Dickinson is the first scholar to reconstruct the methods FDR used and his research suggests modern presidents could benefit greatly by studying them.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 9, 1999
Format: Hardcover
If you care about how the presidency works or should work, you will purchase this book. Dickinson not only presents a readable, intersting history of FDR, he wonderfully contrasts Roosevelt's techniques and how and why his successors ignored and refused to employ them. It's not a "catch-all" nor a "cookbook" for presidents (although it has both of those elements), but a study into what doesn't work at the executive organizational level. For something that will change the way you look at everything from Healthcare reform to Iran-Contra, this book is definitely a winner.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 19, 1997
Format: Hardcover
"Bitter Harvest" discusses the original growth of the White House under FDR and contrasts his staff management techniques with those presidents who followed (and who, according to the author, did a far inferior job of making the staff work for the president rather than vice versa). There is a lot of detail on the 1930s and 1940s here, but it's worth digging through. The book makes a strong argument, and backs it up nicely; highly recommended for those interested in presidential power and the influence that presidential staffs have had on American public policy.
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