The American Presidency is one of the most popular books ever published on America's highest office. Clinton Rossiter's eloquent and insightful classic now appears with a substantial new introduction by Michael Nelson. Firmly grounded in history, constitutional analysis, and political culture, The American Presidency examines the evolution of presidential powers and limitations and evaluates the performances of individual presidents since Washington's inauguration in 1789.
In what he terms an impressionistic rendering of the main dimensions of presidential office, Clinton Rossiter studies the powers and limitations of the presidency with especial concern for the modern presidency and its methods of functioning. He reviews roles vested in the president by the Constitution and those that have evolved upon him since, some helpful and some conflicting; considers the charges against the office (the problems raised by the relation of president to Congress, the lack of continuous responsibility for each act as in the British setup, the combination of power and independence seen by some as a matrix for dictatorship), and the limiting factors, foremost being Congress, which might be observed for similar uses of power. The author turns his hand to dealing in greatness of presidents as he sets forth the history of the office by outstanding incumbents from Washington, who assured its being by his dignity and adherence to the Constitution (and by the conception of a presidency on his merits) to Eisenhower - with close inspection of the last three holders of office (at this reading the Eisenhower section presupposes he will not run again). Stimulating commentary particularly in view of judgments on men, this concerns itself more with the functions of office and incumbents than The Presidency Today by Corwin and Koenig (see review, p. 144 February 15, 1956 Bulletin) and while covering much of the same ground, is less outstanding than the latter in clarity of historical conception and handling of certain elements such as the election and succession of the president. (Kirkus Reviews)