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The Speaker of the House: A Study of Leadership Paperback – May 25, 2010
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This book is an outstanding contribution to the literature that is simultaneously theoretically driven and grounded in empirical data, providing considerable insight into the behavior of House Speakers. --Choice, 2010 Outstanding Academic Title
It combines a deft consideration of the history of the office of the Speaker with a rich discussion of specific instances of legislative leadership. --Cindy Simon Rosenthal, Legislative Studies Section Newsletter
Anyone interested in legislative leadership should read this book. -- Congress and the Presidency
The Speaker of the House has many virtues, foremost among them that it faithfully depicts the real-world complexities that are the hallmark of decision making in the Speaker's office. -- Matthew Beckmann, Perspectives on Politics
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Green treats Speakers of the House as agents in the true sense of the word: they're not just automatons who are responsive to their party caucus (as leading theories would have us believe) -- they're purposive and strategic actors who seek to fulfill multiple goals simultaneously, who act creatively, and who influence policy outcomes. Their goals include their own reelection (to the speakership and to the House), the enactment of their preferred policies, and the fulfillment of various Speaker-related roles and duties. They can't always satisfy their multiple goals, but with voluminous research of primary and secondary materials, Green convincingly demonstrates that they consistently try. Showing this is, by itself, an important accomplishment. But the book also goes on to detail many other significant findings, including changes in leadership patterns over time (for example, floor advocacy by the Speaker has become more common over the years) and variation in the tactics employed and in the effects of leadership acts. Throughout, Green brings fascinating new evidence to bear.
To be sure, this book is first and foremost a work of scholarly political science -- it is a theoretically sophisticated and carefully developed study -- but it is also a well-written and easily accessible text that all political junkies will find interesting. It's a must-read for anyone interested in Congress, the behavior of the Speaker, and the dynamics of legislative leadership more generally.