The Presidency of George W. Bush: A First Historical Assessment

The Presidency of George W. Bush: A First Historical Assessment

The Presidency of George W. Bush: A First Historical Assessment

The Presidency of George W. Bush: A First Historical Assessment


The Presidency of George W. Bush brings together some of today's top American historians to offer the first in-depth look at one of the most controversial U. S. presidencies. Emotions surrounding the Bush presidency continue to run high--conservatives steadfastly defend its achievements, liberals call it a disgrace. This book examines the successes as well as the failures, covering every major aspect of Bush's two terms in office. It puts issues in broad historical context to reveal the forces that shaped and constrained Bush's presidency--and the ways his presidency reshaped the nation.

The Presidency of George W. Bush features contributions by Mary L. Dudziak, Gary Gerstle, David Greenberg, Meg Jacobs, Michael Kazin, Kevin M. Kruse, Nelson Lichtenstein, Fredrik Logevall, Timothy Naftali, James T. Patterson, and the book's editor, Julian E. Zelizer. Each chapter tackles some important aspect of Bush's administration--such as presidential power, law, the war on terror, the Iraq invasion, economic policy, and religion--and helps readers understand why Bush made the decisions he did. Taking readers behind the headlines of momentous events, the contributors show how the quandaries of the Bush presidency were essentially those of conservatism itself, which was confronted by the hard realities of governance. They demonstrate how in fact Bush frequently disappointed the Right, and how Barack Obama's 2008 election victory cast the very tenets of conservatism in doubt.

History will be the ultimate judge of Bush's legacy, and the assessment begins with this book.


Julian E. Zelizer

Following the tragic events of 9/11, when al qaeda TERrorists crashed three airplanes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, Americans turned their frightened eyes toward George W. Bush to see just what kind of president he would be.

Most people weren’t sure what they would find. the new president was still hard to define. His campaign in 2000 had sent mixed signals on a variety of issues. Bush, the son of former president George H. W. Bush (1989–93), had run as a “compassionate conservative” who understood that in certain areas the federal government was necessary. He assured supporters he would use the power of the federal government to ameliorate problems such as inadequate primary education programs. “Big government is not the answer,” Bush told Republicans at his acceptance speech at the Philadelphia convention. “But the alternative to bureaucracy is not indifference. It is to put conservative values and conservative ideas into the thick of the fight for justice and opportunity.”

At the same time, Bush remained loyal to the Reagan Revolution by assuring voters he would pursue tax cuts, deregulation, and reduced spending. He was determined to avoid the fate of his father, who had accepted a tax increase in 1990, contradicting his famous campaign pledge, “Read my lips: no new taxes,” and had thus alienated conservatives from his administration. On foreign policy, Bush . . .

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