Recapturing the Oval Office
New Historical Approaches to the American Presidency
Narrated by Douglas R. Miller
Approximately 13 hours
Book published by Cornell University Press
Several generations of historians figuratively abandoned the Oval Office as the bastion of out-of-fashion stories of great men. And now, decades later, the historical analysis of the American presidency remains on the outskirts of historical scholarship, even as policy and political history have rebounded within the academy. In Recapturing the Oval Office, leading historians and social scientists forge an agenda for returning the study of the presidency to the mainstream practice of history and they chart how the study of the presidency can be integrated into historical narratives that combine rich analyses of political, social, and cultural history.
The authors demonstrate how "bringing the presidency back in" can deepen understanding of crucial questions regarding race relations, religion, and political economy. The contributors illuminate the conditions that have both empowered and limited past presidents, and thus show how social, cultural, and political contexts matter. By making the history of the presidency a serious part of the scholarly agenda in the future, historians have the opportunity to influence debates about the proper role of the president today.
Brian Balogh is the Compton Professor at the Miller Center and the Corcoran Department of History at the University of Virginia. He is the author of A Government Out of Sight: The Mystery of National Authority in Nineteenth-Century America and editor of Integrating the Sixties: The Origins, Structure and Legacy of a Turbulent Decade.
“A much-needed and altogether excellent effort at addressing a major question in U.S. historical scholarship: where did the presidency go? A stellar cast of contributors take to the task with vigor and skill, and succeed ably in bridging the gap between presidential agency and the structural forces that have long been the primary concern of professional historians.”
—Fredrik Logevall, Harvard University, author of Embers of War: The Fall of an Empire and the Making of America's Vietnam
“Recapturing the Oval Office is a delightful book of high literary merit that will have an important impact on the historical profession. I envy the subtlety and forthrightness with which it demolishes shibboleths and sets forth a new agenda for the next generation.”
—Elizabeth Cobbs, Hoover Institution and San Diego State University, author of American Umpire
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