From the Boston Tea Party to the War on Terror: Books on American Politics from Yale

As the Republican presidential candidates begin launching their campaigns for the White House race next year, we take a look at books on American politics from Yale University Press.

The Republican presidential primaries will be held next year ahead of the US presidential election. Candidates are already throwing their hats into the ring, and it is certain that during the coming months we are going to be hearing more and more about next year’s race for the White House and the challenges facing Barack Obama.

Yale University Press publishes a wide range of books looking at all aspects of American politics, including historical events, influential figures, constitutional issues, domestic topics and foreign policy. Below are a small selection of titles that cover these issues and more.

Defiance of the PatriotsDefiance of the Patriots: The Boston Tea Party and the Making of America
Benjamin L. Carp

On the evening of December 16, 1773, a group of disguised Bostonians boarded three merchant ships and dumped more than forty-six tons of tea into Boston Harbour. The Boston Tea Party, as it later came to be known, was an audacious and revolutionary act. It set the stage for war and cemented certain values in the American psyche that many still cherish today. But why did the Tea Party happen? Whom did it involve? What did it mean? The answers to these questions are far from straightforward. In this book Benjamin Carp tells the full story of the Tea Party – exploding myths, exploring the unique city life of Boston, and setting this extraordinary event in a global context for the first time. Bringing vividly to life the diverse array of people and places that the Tea Party brought together, from Chinese tea-pickers to English businessmen, Native American tribes, sugar plantation slaves, and Boston’s ladies of leisure, Carp illuminates how a determined group shook the foundations of a mighty empire, and what this has meant for Americans since. More

A Complicated ManA Complicated Man: The Life of Bill Clinton as Told by Those Who Know Him
Michael Takiff

Though Bill Clinton has been out of office since 2001, public fascination with him continues unabated. Many books about Clinton have been published in recent years, but no single-volume biography covers the full scope of Clinton’s life from the cradle to the present day, not even Clinton’s own account, My Life. More troubling still, books on Clinton have tended to be highly polarized, casting the former president in an overly positive or negative light. In this, the first complete oral history of Clinton’s life, historian Michael Takiff presents the first truly balanced book on one of our nation’s most controversial and fascinating presidents. Through more than 150 chronologically arranged interviews with key figures including Bob Dole, James Carville, and Tom Brokaw, among many others, A Complicated Man goes far beyond the well-worn party-line territory to capture the larger-than-life essence of Clinton the man. With the tremendous attention given to the Lewinsky scandal, it is easy to overlook the president’s humble upbringing, as well as his many achievements at home and abroad: the longest economic boom in American history, a balanced budget, successful intervention in the Balkans, and a series of landmark – if controversial – free-trade agreements. Through the candid recollections of Takiff’s many subjects, A Complicated Man reveals the most complete and unexpected portrait of our forty-second president published to date. More


Why the Electoral College is Bad for America Why the Electoral College is Bad for America
George C. Edwards

Americans currently choose their president through the electoral college, an extraordinarily complex mechanism that may elect a candidate who does not receive the most votes. In this provocative book, George Edwards argues that, contrary to what supporters of the electoral college claim, there is no real justification for a system that might violate majority rule. Drawing on systematic data, Edwards finds that the electoral college does not protect the interests of small states or racial minorities, does not provide presidents with effective coalitions for governing, and does little to protect the American polity from the alleged harms of direct election of the president. In fact, the electoral college distorts the presidential campaign so that candidates ignore most small states and some large ones and pay little attention to minorities, and it encourages third parties to run presidential candidates and discourages party competition in many states. Edwards demonstrates effectively that direct election of the president without a runoff maximizes political equality and eliminates the distortions in the political system caused by the electoral college. More

One Nation Under ContractOne Nation Under Contract: The Outsourcing of American Power and the Future of Foreign Policy
Allison Stanger

In this book, international relations scholar Allison Stanger shows how contractors became an integral part of American foreign policy, often in scandalous ways – but also maintains that contractors aren’t the problem; the absence of good government is. Stanger makes three arguments: the outsourcing of U.S. government activities is far greater than most people realize, has been very poorly managed, and has inadvertently militarized American foreign policy; despite this mismanagement, public-private partnerships are here to stay, so we had better learn to do them right; and, with improved transparency and accountability, these partnerships can significantly extend the reach and effectiveness of U.S. efforts abroad. Through detailed explorations of the evolution of military outsourcing, the privatization of diplomacy, our dysfunctional homeland security apparatus, and the slow death of the U.S. Agency for International Development, Stanger shows that the requisite public-sector expertise to implement foreign policy no longer exists. The successful activities of charities and NGOs, coupled with the growing participation of multinational corporations in development efforts, make a new approach essential. Provocative and far-reaching, One Nation Under Contract presents a bold vision of what that new approach must be. More

Disappearing CenterThe Disappearing Center: Engaged Citizens, Polarization, and American Democracy
Alan I. Abramowitz

In this timely book, renowned political scientist Alan Abramowitz presents a groundbreaking argument that the most important divide in American politics is not between left and right but rather between citizens who are politically engaged and those who are not. It is the engaged members of the public, he argues, who most closely reflect the ideals of democratic citizenship – but this is also the group that is most polarized. Polarization at the highest levels of government, therefore, is not a sign of elites’ disconnection from the public but rather of their responsiveness to the more politically engaged parts of it. Though polarization is often assumed to be detrimental to democracy, Abramowitz concludes that by presenting voters with clear choices, polarization can serve to increase the public’s interest and participation in politics and strengthen electoral accountability. More

One Nation Under ContractIn the Name of God and Country: Reconsidering Terrorism in American History
Michael Fellman

With insight and originality, Michael Fellman argues that terrorism, in various forms, has been a constant and driving force in American history. In part, this is due to the nature of American republicanism and Protestant Christianity, which he believes contain a core of moral absolutism and self-righteousness that perpetrators of terrorism use to justify their actions. Fellman also argues that there is an intrinsic relationship between terrorist acts by non-state groups and responses on the part of the state; unlike many observers, he believes that both the action and the reaction constitute terrorism. Fellman’s compelling narrative focuses on five key episodes: John Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry; terrorism during the American Civil War, especially race warfare and guerrilla warfare; the organized ‘White Line’ paramilitary destruction of Reconstruction in Mississippi; the Haymarket Affair and its aftermath; and, the Philippine-American war of 1899-1902. In an epilogue, he applies this history to illuminate the Bush-Cheney administration’s use of terrorism in the so-called war on terror. In the Name of God and Country demonstrates the centrality of terrorism in shaping America even to this day. More

All these books are available to buy from Yale University Press.

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