Modern American Political Dynasties

A Study of Power, Family, and Political Influence

by Kathleen A. Gronnerud and Scott J. Spitzer, Editors


The Bushes, Kennedys, and Roosevelts are prominent families that continue to influence our political sphere. What makes them so powerful?

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Cover image for Modern American Political Dynasties

October 2018


Pages 362
Volumes 1
Size 6 1/8x9 1/4
Topics Politics, Law, and Government/History
  Politics, Law, and Government/History

This collection of entries offers a front seat view of the rise, reign, and fall of powerful modern political families and examines the effects they have had on political, social, and economic issues in American society.

Modern American Political Dynasties: A Study of Power, Family, and Political Influence is a unique research resource and fascinating read that explores the dynamics and modern America's most influential political families. It provides a thorough study of approximately 20 of the best-known surnames in 20th-century American politics. More than just a biography, it highlights how these families' dynamics have influenced political practice and thought, providing a holistic context for the evolution of political dynasties in the United States.

The text includes a historically grounded examination of the crossroads of family and politics as it charts the origins, development, peak strength, and decline of each family. It is the only published volume to include biographical and contextual information on major political dynasties in addition to fascinating research on high-profile personalities. The book is for any research institution collection and will be of interest to both academics and general readers interested in American history and politics.


  • Profiles prominent political families such as the Bushes, Kennedys, and Roosevelts as well as powerful state and regional families including the Browns, Cuomos, Daleys and Udalls in chapters authored by historians and political scientists with established expertise
  • Offers a robust bibliography and At-a-glance family tree in each chapter
  • Includes multiple analytical summary tables in the conclusion
Author Info

Kathleen A. Gronnerud is an associate faculty member in history at Saddleback Community College. She is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, Northwestern University and California State University, Fullerton with an MA. in history and an MS. in journalism. She has worked as a reporter in Washington and as a consulting writer, editor, and project manager, and is a contributing author to ABC-CLIO's Imperialism and Expansionism in American History: A Social, Political, and Cultural Encyclopedia and Document Collection (edited by Chris J. Magoc and David Bernstein); Women in American History: A Social, Political, and Cultural Encyclopedia and Document Collection (edited by Peg A. Lamphier and Rosanne Welkch); Reforming America: A Thematic Encyclopedia and Document Collection of the Progressive Era (edited by Jeffrey A. Johnson); and 50 Events That Shaped African American History: An Encyclopedia of the American Mosaic (edited by Jame J. Wilson).

Scott J. Spitzer,PhD, is an associate professor of political science at California State University, Fullerton, and has been a faculty member there since 2006. Previously, he taught at Seton Hall University and Chapman University, and earned his PhD in political science from Columbia University in 2000. His published articles and essays include "Nixon's New Deal: Welfare Reform for the Silent Majority" (Presidential Studies Quarterly); the chapter on Richard M. Nixon in ABC-CLIO's Hatred of American Presidents: Personal Attacks on the White House from Washington to Trump (edited by Lori Cox Han); a review of Resilient America: Electing Nixon in 1968, Channeling Dissent, and Dividing Government (Political Science Quarterly); "The Governor of California and the American President" (Chapter 7 in California Government in National Perspective, 8th edition, edited by Yuan Ting, Shelly Arsenault, and Stephen Stambough.



"With populism and extremism challenging democracy worldwide, this timely edited volume takes a different and illuminating path by exploring the paradoxical role and life cycle of family dynasties in a political system that elevates the individual, and today, the outsider. By a systematic and detailed examination of national, state, regional, and local dynasties the authors have linked history and political science (as well as the psychology of family dynamics) to demonstrate how families accrue wealth, recognition, and unity to gain and wield power and to both shape and adapt to changing political settings. This important and readable work should be required reading in undergraduate and graduate courses and should also generate international comparative studies of family dynasties in both democratic and non-democratic systems."—Raphael J. Sonenshein, Executive Director, Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs, California State University, Los Angeles

"This up-to-date and accessible volume connects the histories of some of America's most noteworthy political families to important themes in American political development. Its detailed case studies of dynasties at the national, state, and local levels offer a unique lens for viewing the political history of the United States."—Daniel M. Smith, Harvard University

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