More than an array of information about U.S. presidents, this work is a readable, interdisciplinary presentation of the people, events, processes, and concepts necessary to understand the American presidency. Besides the expected presidential and vice-presidential biographies (which focus on the subjects' years in office) and sketches of persons important to the presidency (first ladies and other relatives, political opponents, White House press secretaries, cabinet members), there are definitions of terms (Supply Side Economics); accounts of historical events (Mayaguez Capture), legislation, and court cases; articles on presidential homes and libraries; explanations of relationships between branches of government; and delineations of the powers, prerogatives, and multiple roles of the president. Thought-provoking entries cover portrayals of presidents on film, presidential character, and Supreme Court nominees not confirmed. Separate entries are provided for every presidential election since the first in 1788. Topics as specialized as Mount Rushmore; Stamps Commemorating Presidents; Pets, Presidential; and Yachts, Presidential are here. Tables, such as the one that accompanies Salaries, Executive are eye-openers: while the president's salary has not changed since 1969, those of the vice-president, cabinet members, the chief justice, and members of Congress have all nearly tripled.
More than 1,000 signed articles (200 of them biographies) by more than 300 contributors from various institutions and disciplines cover the entire executive branch of government. The roster of contributors provides their credentials and indicates which articles they wrote. Among the better-known contributors are James MacGregor Burns (Presidential Leadership), Eugene V. Rostow (Implied Powers; Japanese Americans, Treatment of), and Arthur Schlesinger (Imperial Presidency). Levy is professor emeritus of history, Claremont Graduate School; Fisher is on the staff of the Library of Congress's Congressional Research Service. Each article ends with a bibliography; some are quite brief (that on President Clinton includes one item). Bibliographies cite only author, title, and year of publication for books. More than 40 entries have accompanying tables (e.g., Assassinations and Assaults, National Security Advisors, Vetoes). There is some redundancy in entries: Retreats, Presidential and Vacation Spots, Presidential cover a lot of the same ground.
See entries and embedded cross-references noted with small-capital letters lead researchers through the four volumes. In addition, there is an alphabetical list of entries in volume 1 and a classified list in volume 4 that bring entries together under such headings as Policies and Issues and Biographies. Appendixes include a series of tables on presidents, their cabinets, other officials, and presidential election statistics. Volume 4 concludes with a "Table of Cases" and a very detailed index. Since the volumes are numbered consecutively, the page ranges for each volume are given at the bottom of each page of the index. The only thing this set lacks is illustrations.
Academic and large public libraries will find the Encyclopedia of the American Presidency an important tool for ready reference and for in-depth research in history, economics, and political science. Small libraries that can't afford this set can depend on CQs Guide to the Presidency (1989) to explain aspects of the office and one or more of the recent biographical dictionaries of the presidents, such as Kane's Facts about the Presidents or Degregorio's Complete Book of U.S. Presidents, to provide information on individuals. The Presidency A to Z (volume 2 of CQ's Encyclopedia of American Government [RBB Mr 15 93]) is a less scholarly work that explains the concepts and people of the presidency. However, none of these titles covers the executive branch of government with the breadth and depth of the Encyclopedia of the American Presidency.From Library Journal:
The American presidency as an academic discipline and a multidisciplinary approach to the study of American history is outstandingly served by this comprehensive, accessible resource. The 1011 articles by 335 authorities are all signed and conclude with current, useful bibliographic citations. The longest articles, averaging seven to ten pages, focus on the philosophy and major policies of the presidents and the events occurring during their administrations. Not all contributors are academics, but all are recognized experts. Lou Cannon ( Washington Post ), and Gerald Seib ( Wall Street Journal ) present excellent surveys of the Reagan and the Bush administrations, respectively. Elizabeth Drew's analysis of the early stages of the Clinton years is also good but will become quickly dated; in addition, it includes only one bibliographic citation, Putting People First , the president's campaign piece. Shorter articles on First Ladies, cabinet members, and politicos provide detailed information often difficult to find. Articles on quirky, provocative topics, including presidential pets, flag desecration, coattail effects, and dirty tricks, show how deeply ingrained America's highest office is in popular culture. Thorough articles on cabinet departments and briefer ones on the institutions surrounding the presidency trace the evolution of the office over two centuries. Finally, the detailed index and a logical arrangement of topics are excellent features. By looking under the heading "Election, Presidential," for instance, the reader will find a complete discussion of the issues, parties, nominees, and the results and impacts of all elections from 1788. While the less expensive The Presidency A to Z ( LJ 3/1/93) is a good ready reference, it is far surpassed by the depth and writing of this set, which should be purchased for all large public and high school collections and by all academic libraries. The wealth of information, authoritatively explained and logically and conveniently presented, thoroughly justifies the price.
- Karl Helicher, Upper Merion Twp . Lib., King of Prussia, Pa.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Book Description Macmillan Library Reference, 1994. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX0132759837