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Understanding the Presidency (6th Edition) 6th Edition

4.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
ISBN-13: 978-0205791583
ISBN-10: 0205791581
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Pearson; 6 edition (February 22, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0205791581
  • ISBN-13: 978-0205791583
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,270,946 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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I read this textbook for my POLS 413: U.S. Presidency class along with another textbook called "The American Presidency" 5th edition by Milkis and Nelson. "Understanding the Presidency" 6th edition does a good job complementing "The American Presidency." While "The American Presidency" presents an outline for the major changes in the presidency during a chronological approach, this textbooks ("Understanding the Presidency") contains essays in which political scientists debate many issues pertinent to the modern presidency.

The following are some examples of the issues discussed:

the nominating process
the presidential mandate (contains Dahl's article "The Myth of the Presidential Mandate")
the permanent campaign
the president's ability to manage the government
the unitary executive theory
the president's relationship with Congress
prerogative powers to fight War of Terror

In most sections, Pfiffner seems to try to give both sides of the story. For example, when judging George W. Bush' legacy as president, Pfiffner includes an anti-Bush essay by Sean Wilentz entitled "The Worst President in History?" and a pro-Bush essay by Karl Rove entitled "The Long View."


I think the textbook is a bit difficult for introductory students who do not know much about the presidency (ex: students who have not memorized the list of presidents and who do not know some of the major events that occurred during each presidency). However, if you combine this text with another text such as "The American Presidency," I certainly think introductory students could learn a lot.

Certainly, I recommend the textbook for those who are ready and eager to discuss and debate questions like: "Did George W.
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