Organizing the Presidency

Organizing the Presidency

Organizing the Presidency

Organizing the Presidency


"This is the first book on the presidency that leaves one with the feeling that he has read a comprehensive treatment of the subject. The others seem to concentrate on fragments such as legalities of the office, the presidency's severe limitations, or its potential to befuddle its occupant's good sense. Hess encompasses all of these plus presidential management and decision-making styles, cabinet and White House staff recruitment, and presidential-White House staff-cabinet interaction." -- Carl Grafton, The Annals of the American Academy

"[A]ny president would benefit from reading Mr. Hess's analysis and any reader will enjoy the elegance with which it is written and the author's wide knowledge and good sense." - The Economist

"...magnificent study" -- John Osborne, The New Republic

"...a remarkable book" -- Stanley Karnow, Newsweek

"...excellent book" -- Alan L. Otten, The Wall Street Journal


When Franklin D. Roosevelt was inaugurated in March 1933, the White House staff numbered fewer than fifty people. In the ensuing half century, as the United States became a world power and both the foreign and domestic duties of the presidency grew more complex, each chief executive left the executive branch larger than before. The White House staff itself has increased tenfold. This expanded organization was instrumental in forging the New Deal and Great Society programs, in advancing desegregation and efforts for world peace, but it has also been blamed for Watergate, the Iran-Contra affair, and the nation's involvement in Vietnam. Whatever its nature, the organization of the presidency has become a crucial element in directing the policies of the United States.

In this revised editon of Organizing the Presidency, Stephen Hess surveys presidential organizations from Roosevelt's to Reagan's, examining the changing responsibilities of the executive branch jobs and their relationships with one another, Capitol Hill, and the permanent government. He also describes the kinds of people who have filled these positions and the intentions of the presidents who appointed them. This book is less a history, however, than an inquiry into the nature of the presidency itself, of when organizations succeed and where and why they fail. "Organization cannot make a genius out of an incompetent," Dwight Eisenhower wrote in his presidential memoirs, but "disorganization can scarcely fail to result in inefficiency." Efficiency, in the broadest sense of the term, is the goal the author hopes to promote through the considerations and guidelines he offers.

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