Command of Office: How War, Secrecy, and Deception Transformed the Presidency, from Theodore Roosevelt to George W. Bush

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9780465027583: Command of Office: How War, Secrecy, and Deception Transformed the Presidency, from Theodore Roosevelt to George W. Bush

Command of Office reveals the remarkable-and dangerous-concentration of power in the American presidency over the course of the twentieth century, told through incisive analyses of the eighteen men who have held the office and the events that shaped their presidencies. Stephen Graubard tracks the steady expansion of secrecy as a tool of presidential authority, one that inevitably diminished the power of the other two branches of government. Widely esteemed by his fellow historians and with unique access to former members of both Republican and Democratic administrations, Graubard has written a masterful history of presidential power-essential reading for anyone concerned with American politics.

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About the Author:

From 1961-1996, Stephen Graubard was the editor of Daedalus, the Journal of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is Professor Emeritus of History at Brown University. His involvement in the national political scene dates back to 1945, when Eleanor Roosevelt invited him to her husband's wartime inauguration. He has studied at George Washington University and Harvard, and holds a Ph.D. from the London School of Economics. He is the author of several books, including Kissinger: Portrait of a Mind, and Mr. Bush's War: Adventures in the Politics of Illusion. He now lives in London.

From Publishers Weekly:

The 20th-century presidency can be defined by its growing accretion of power, argues Graubard, longtime Daedalus editor and Brown University historian emeritus. America's then controversial, presidentially led interventions in WWI and WWII required new extensions of the office's powers; the Cold War era of "permanent" Soviet threat and Vietnam-related secrecy amplified them; and Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton, he says, added spin and deception to the mix. George W. Bush thus assumed an office whose powers are exponentially greater than anything envisioned by the Founding Fathers, subject to correspondingly limited checks and balances. The result, according to Graubard, is a White House increasingly sealed off from the public its occupant ostensibly serves. In acerbic, elegantly written critiques of successive administrations, he depicts presidencies that are increasingly responsive primarily to their particular internal dynamic. The chapter on Clinton (titled "The Rake's Progress") is a particularly effective analysis of a chief executive who "looked for new maps but never found them." George W. Bush is characterized as a poseur whose combination of hubris and ignorance may have done lasting damage to the U.S. at home and abroad. While readers may challenge his interpretations, Graubard's America, transformed by the "kings, courtiers, and warriors" of its 20th-century executive branch, merits wide and careful attention.
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