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Presidential Power and the Modern Presidents: The Politics of Leadership from Roosevelt to Reagan [Paperback]

by Richard E. Neustadt
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)

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Book Description

March 1, 1991 0029227968 978-0029227961 Revised
Thirty years ago Richard Neustadt published "Presidential Power", which became a widely studied book on the theory and practice of presidential leadership. Presidents themselves read it and assign it to their staff for study, as did the intructors of hundreds of thousands of students of government. Now Richard Neustadt re-examines the theory of presidential power by testing it against events and decisions in the administrations of the later modern presidents who followed FDR, Truman and Eisenhower. To the original study of presidential power, Neustadt has added a series of chapters appraising the presidential styles and skills of John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, and Ronald Reagan in the light of his guiding belief that the President must consider the effect a decision will have on his prospects for the successful exercise of presidential power in the future.

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Presidential Power and the Modern Presidents: The Politics of Leadership from Roosevelt to Reagan + Going Public: New Strategies Of Presidential Leadership, 4th Edition + The Politics Presidents Make: Leadership from John Adams to Bill Clinton, Revised Edition
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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Twenty-nine years ago Neustadt wrote Presidential Power ( LJ 6/1/61), a classic on the modern American presidency. This is the fourth revised edition of that work, in which his thesis continues to be that U.S. presidents who lead by persuasion are more successful than those who rely on the formal executive powers of command found in the Constitution. Although this edition doubles the length of the first, Neustadt is still unable to explain why some presidents ignore the tenets of democratic leadership. James David Barber's Presidential Character ( LJ 7/72) is a vastly more readable and predictive classic which, in a sense, builds on Neustadt's thesis. This latest edition continues a patched-on quality, with the addition of new chapters for each administration after Eisenhower's. Older editions will be sufficient for most libraries.
- William D. Pederson, Louisiana State Univ. in Shreveport
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

Washington Post Remains brilliant, significantly strengthened and enlarged.

Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. Our most brilliant commentator on the Presidency brings his diagnosis up to date in this witty, inclusive and stylish book.

Aaron Wildavsky University of California, Berkeley Savvy, insightful political portraits of recent presidents, including Ronald Reagan, in relation to what is still the contemporary classic on the Presidency.

Representative Stephen J. Solarz New York An operational Bible for Presidents and their staffs, and an indispensable Baedeker for those who seek to understand both.

Fred I. Greenstein Princeton University Neustadt's book remains the classic account of presidential leadership, and the latest edition has a bonus -- two fascinating new chapters.

Paul E. Peterson Harvard University The discussion of Iran-Contra reveals how profound was Dick Neustadt's original intepretation of Presidential power.

Charles O. Jones University of Wisconsin He is so much in command that he doesn't have to tell all. A personal characteristic, a response, an insight -- and soon you see what he sees.

Clark M. Clifford For thirty years, Presidential Power has influenced students of the Presidency -- from the quiet comers of the White House to college and university compuses across the nation.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press; Revised edition (March 1, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0029227968
  • ISBN-13: 978-0029227961
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.1 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #40,866 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
48 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of three seminal works on the Presidency April 25, 2000
Format:Paperback
Neustadt's book describes one of three theories about Presidents. Everyone knows that there is a balance of power between the judiciary, the legislative and the executive branches. Neustadt claims that the President is the weak leg of the stool and that he is unable to govern alone. He must use his powers of persuasion in order to convince the other branches of the government to do his bidding.
As part of a graduate program in political science with a concentration on the United States, you will read this book. If you don't, I am happy to go out on a limb and say that there is something wrong with your program!
This is one of the three seminal works available on the Presidency. There are others but this is one of the big guns. If you read this book, along with Corwin's "Presidential Power" and Rossiter's "The American Presidency", you'll understand all three theories of presidential power: the weak President (Neustadt), the strong President (Corwin) and the President wearing many hats (Rossiter). In reality, all three are correct.
It's interesting but a scholarly read. It's not a book you'd pick up for light after dinner reading.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Don't stop half way through April 6, 1999
Format:Paperback
About half of the way through the book, Neustadt seemed to be saying the same things over and over again. I almost stopped reading. However the incredible tidbits of advice in the first half encouraged me to continue. It was certainly worth it. The last 5 or 6 chapters were written over the period between the Kennedy assasination and the end of the Reagan Administration, allowing Neustadt to ammend many of his ideas from the first 8 chapters (originally published in 1960) making the book far more lively. A wonderful read for those with a weak knowledge of the last 50 years. If you know a lot about the Korean War, Bay of Pigs, or Iran-Contra, the book may be a little too much review. Otherwise it is fabulous.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Machiavelli in the White House March 23, 2004
Format:Paperback
This is indeed one the classics in the field of presidential studies. Neustadt's contribution, although somewhat commonsensical at first glance, is that despite the huge increase in formal powers that the president has acquired over the years, the most fundamental power the president possesses is the power to persuade.
The president must persuade other independently elected officials to do as he sees fit. This, in a city such as Washington DC where people have seen powerful politicians come and go over the years, is easier said than done. The president must be attuned to the nuances of political issues and not allow himself to become cut off from the political back and forth by his retinue of aides. He must retain the prerogative of making the final political decision and avoid becoming a clerk and simply ratifying the decisions made form by the staff and the bureaucracy. Further, he must define what is in his political self interest.
The president does so by keeping himself informed, by employing a system of information that allows him to be at the center and making real decisions; and by carefully husbanding the power and carefully cultivating the image of the president. While the president does posses the power to command, instances where he must rely on command are a prima facie failure of persuasion.
Finally, the president must ensure that others understand his power. He must be able to strike a modicum of fear into both his allies and his foes. In the political sense, this means the ability to hurt someone electorally. If I as the president can campaign against you and make it stick, you will be more likely to fear me and be persuaded by my requests.
This is not an easy read, but if you are involved as a student of politics you WILL read this book at some point. A classic and well worth the effort.
John C. McKee
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars THE Essential Modern Day Presidential Book August 22, 1998
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Apparently this is THE book to read if one desires to get a feel for the modern day presidency. In any other presidential book, one will see Neustadt's referred to quite often. As a realist, he describes the presidency not in terms of how it was designed by the framers. Neither does he describe the Constitutional process of accomplishing policy objectives. Neustadt explains that the truly effective president uses his position of authority to persuade others. FDR, Neustadt's shining example, knew how to work with people and get them to do his bidding. Downfall (and perhaps because I am no brain surgeon): but the book was sometimes tough to follow, hence it is often boring. Oh well, perhaps the true intellectuals will grasp it all. A DEFINITE FOR ANYONE WHO WANTS TO UNDERSTAND AMERICAN GOVT!
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Classic, but outdated April 19, 2005
Format:Paperback
Neustadt's work has been praised by many other reviewers here, and I won't disagree that this is a classic that must be read by any serious student of the American presidency. Nonetheless, his thesis is quite outdated and has been superceded by more recent scholarship.

Neustadt's fatal flaw is to assume that the individual person in the office is the only thing that matters - if that person has the right set of skills, he can successfully bargain to get his goals accomplished. However, he doesn't pay enough attention to the role other institutions may play in constraining the president's ability to get what he wants, or how increased presidential power may give the president new resources with which to deal with the other branches.

Neustadt also assumes that all presidents before FDR were "pre-modern" and "mere clerks of the office." This perspective has been proven false in several respects. First off, Teddy Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson clearly acted like "modern" presidents in many respects. Secondly, there are numerous examples of "pre-modern" presidents acting like the modern ones: even the much-reviled Rutherford B. Hayes acted like the modern presidents when appointing executive branch officials. Others such as Andrew Jackson, James K. Polk, Lincoln, etc., are left out altogether.

If you want to read cutting-edge work that deals with these shortcomings, take a look at Stephen Skowronek's book on the presidency instead.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Deeper Then Presidents
While I usually study comparative politics and international relations, I've been on this bizarre United States Presidents kick this summer. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Michael Griswold
5.0 out of 5 stars Presidential Power is the Power to Persuade
Neustadt makes one key argument as it relates to presidential power. Namely, presidential power "is the power to persuade. Read more
Published on July 10, 2011 by S. Robison
4.0 out of 5 stars text book for The American Presidency
Please note when the book was published. It is very insightful once you get past some of the sexist terminology, as in only refering to potential presidents as "he" or "man" and... Read more
Published on October 22, 2010 by whereami
4.0 out of 5 stars Outdated? Yes, But Still Sound
Neustadt offers a view of presidential power. One that stresses the many informal resources that are at the disposal of each President. Read more
Published on May 3, 2010 by Dr. Who, What, Where?
5.0 out of 5 stars Seperated Institutions, Shared Powers
The United States is a "government of separated institutions sharing powers" (29). Because of this sharing of power, each actor is not beholden to the will of the other. Read more
Published on October 11, 2009 by Matthew P. Arsenault
5.0 out of 5 stars still useful after all these years...
The 1960 edition of Presidential Power has had a long shelf-life, and has grown over time to append chapters on post-Eisenhower presidents. Read more
Published on April 19, 2000
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