Presidential Power
Documents Decoded
by Brian M. Harward
March 2016, 343pp, 8 1/2x11
1 volume, ABC-CLIO

Hardcover: 978-1-61069-829-0
$98, £76, 86€, A135
eBook Available: 978-1-61069-830-6
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

Developments throughout U.S. history such as Japanese American internment, decisions to go to war, and drone strikes served as tests of presidential power.

This volume uses essential and illuminating primary documents as a portal for understanding the evolution and present parameters of presidential power, the relationship between America's three branches of government, and why wartime often leads presidents to claim expansive powers and authority.

Presidential Power: Documents Decoded provides a thorough examination of the historical and political context of key, critical moments in constitutional history and presidential power that makes possible opportunities for students to explore American politics in an interesting, memorable, and dynamic way. Each of the case studies reveals important dimensions of the constitutional order in the United States—and enables readers to better grasp how executive power has shifted and expanded.

The book takes specific events, people, institutions, or ideas and places them in a broader context so that readers can observe patterns and make connections among seemingly disparate happenings and concepts relating to executive power. Accompanied by explanatory sidebars, the included primary sources let students examine actual documentary evidence of key elements of executive power—for example, the presidential memorandum, the National Security cable, and the prisoner’s petition—and reach their own judgment of the implications of that document for the American political system.


  • Covers topics such as Operation Pastorius, the Watergate scandal, the Iran-Contra affair, and drone strikes to show how each presented tests of presidential power
  • Utilizes events and developments throughout U.S. history—from the nation's founding to the contemporary era—to demonstrate how these singular, focusing events are often reflections of broader political, economic, and social forces
Brian M. Harward, PhD, is associate professor of political science and director of the Center for Political Participation at Allegheny College. His recent publications explore issues related to executive power, presidential campaigns, congressional oversight, and teaching and learning. He is the author of The 2012 Election and the coauthor of ABC-CLIO's Presidential Campaigns: Documents Decoded. In addition to having received multiple campus and disciplinary teaching awards, Harward is the 2013 recipient of the American Political Science Association/CQ Press Award for Teaching Innovation in Political Science.


"The book will benefit many different types of readers, and it supports curriculum in both high school and college political science and history courses. This book is recommended for both high school and academic libraries."—ARBA, August 31, 2016
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