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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good for preparing lectures, November 14, 2005
By 
K. Smith (Stockton, CA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Vital Statistics on the Presidency: Washington to Clinton (Paperback)
Like its better known companion _Vital Statistics on Congress_ (from AEI Press) this book is simply a collection of data about presidents and their staff, campaigns, legislative priorities, vetoes, and other countable actions. There are brief introductory essays for each of the sections, but these are largely throw-aways. This book provides the substance for a lot of the trends people talk about in the presidency but frequently can't back up with numbers.

Who is going to find this book useful? Professors preparing lectures on different aspects of the American presidency (the data are great for creating charts and graphs), students looking for data to use in statistical models, and people interested in the development of the offce of the president over the 200+ years covered by Ragsdale.

What is the major limitation? The data do not cover the entire political history of the presidency. Not only has the book not been updated since 1998 (so there is nothing on Bill Clinton's impeachment period or George W. Bush), but there are frequently inconsistent time gaps in the data. CQ's _Vital Statistics on American Politics_ fills in some of the holes, especially with respect to Clinton and Bush, but if you are looking for a complete data set you will have to supplement the data with your own work. (To be fair, there are lots of gaps in any collection like this one.)

Major sections:

* Personal background of presidents (e.g., former jobs)

* Campaign finance and political power

* Electoral data

* Speeches, appearances, and party activities

* Public opinion/approval

* Staffing and decision-making policies and practices

* Relations with other branches of government
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Vital Statistics on the Presidency: Washington to Clinton
Vital Statistics on the Presidency: Washington to Clinton by Lyn Ragsdale (Paperback - Oct. 1998)
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