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The American Presidency

Duncan Watts


The presidency is a complex topic for study, not least because it defies simple explanations. It is unique and evolving, elastic and changing. Different occupants mould the presidency to suit their own needs and the national requirements of the time. Sometimes, the circumstances have been ripe for an extension of presidential power, for the challenges have called for assertive and dynamic leadership. At others, the notions of separated and shared powers have served to constrain the presidency.

This book is concerned with the role and powers of American presidents and the way in which the office has evolved since it was created by the Founding Fathers. Whilst acknowledging that there has been a broad increase in presidential power from the time of the first incumbent, it aims to highlight the waxing and waning of power in that period. It seeks to show how personality, conception of the office and circumstances have influenced the ability of presidents to chart the direction in which they have wished to travel and their ability to implement their programme.

Key Features
  • A lucid, lively and engaging introduction to the presidency and those who have occupied it
  • An interpretative work of sound academic repute
  • Incorporates the various theories of and the latest research about the nature of presidential power


1. The Evolution of the Presidency to 1933
2. The Modern Presidency 1933 - Present Day
3. Electing and Removing the President
4. The President and Domestic Policy
5. The President and Foreign Policy
6. Presidential Leadership and Power
7. Support for the President
8. Assessing US Presidents
Conclusion: the President and Constitutional Democracy
A Guide to Further Reading
Glossary of Key Terms

About the Author

Duncan Watts has wide experience of teaching and examining, both in Modern History and Government and Politics. Formerly a Head of Department in both Grammar and Comprehensive schools, and Editor of the Politics Association Resource Centre, he is now involved in some part-time tutoring at 'A' Level, but much of his time is spent in writing on aspects of modern political development. Among several other publications, he has written widely on citizenship, political communication, the European Union and American government and politics, as well as producing an extensive range of teaching materials. He is the series editor of Politics Study Guides (EUP).

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