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History of American presidential elections,…

History of American presidential elections, 1789-1968

by Arthur Meier Schlesinger

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Be prepared for some heavy reading.

Literally. This is a huge series of books. Each of the multiple volumes takes on several decades of Presidential elections, devoting thousands of pages to each century. The individual items on each election are long enough that they could almost be published as independent books themselves.

Note that the chapters are about presidential elections, not presidents. Obviously you will learn something about the presidents. The biography of a man running for president was obviously a campaign issue; so was the record of a man running for re-election. But the purpose of the article is to discuss the election, not its aftermath; the book spends very little time discussing what happened as a result of the caucus. It simply looks at how the result came about. In general there is a discussion of how the candidate came to be nominated. This typically means a summary of the various candidates for nomination in each party, followed by what happened in the convention. (If there was a convention, of course.) There is some discussion of the party platforms.

And then, of course, there is the actual campaign, when the two (or more) nominees face off. The articles discuss issues which arise, the strategies pursued by the campaigns, and (usually) the particular problems arising in the swing states.

And after that, we of course have the results -- popular votes, electoral votes, controversies.

The result is almost always comprehensive. If you want to know how an election proceeded, the information is here.

The individual articles are by different scholars. As a result, the quality naturally varies a bit from article to article; some are easier to follow than others. But the overall level of quality is quite high. It is hard to imagine any major improvements to this series of books; it does what it says, and does it well. ( )
  waltzmn | Nov 3, 2013 |
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A selection of 15 essays with a 15-page introduction, a presidential chronology, and voting tables for 44 presidential elections.

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