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A Time Like No Other

"You've got to give it all you can that first year," Lyndon Johnson once said. "You've got just one year when they treat you right, and before they start worrying about themselves." Johnson was describing a small—but very real—window of opportunity. Reagan achieved the tax cuts that were central to Reaganomics in his first year in office; Obama pushed through the legislation paving the way for the Affordable Care Act. Unlike the proverbial "first hundred days" that is so often evoked, and yet a poor yardstick for credible assessment, the first year of a presidential administration has consistently provided an invaluable perspective on a presidency.

Crucible: The President's First Year is the result of an ambitious project by the Miller Center of Public Affairs to examine the first years of past presidents to draw practical lessons from which future administrations might learn. The book offers a fascinating collection of pointed, highly informed discussions on such topics as national security, immigration, and the domestic agenda by contributors including top presidential scholars as well actual participants in past administrations, from Clinton policy advisor William A. Galston to the Director of Strategic Initiatives under Bush 44, Peter Wehner. Kirkus Reviews has already weighed in with this thoughtful assessment: 

"In the view of at least a couple of contributors to this manifold volume, which contains views from across the political spectrum, Donald Trump seems likely to be placed in the same category as Jimmy Carter and Franklin Pierce, both of whom found themselves at the ends of long traditions (the New Deal, Jacksonian democracy). Thus, writes Stephen Skowronek (Yale Univ.), Trump reflects a kind of big-state conservatism, and even if he 'crafted a sui generis political brand,' the political time 'looks less like a reconstructive moment than a late, shaky, conflicted reinstallment of the conservative regime,' one in which the opportunities for meaningful leadership will be few and the possibilities of 'politically disastrous disjunction' many.... If 'truly deft,' concludes the renowned historian Alan Taylor, new presidents henceforth 'will cling to an aura of moderation while securing legislation to deliver on their political philosophy.'"

One of Crucible's coeditors, the renowned presidential scholar Michael Nelson, has written a book focusing completely on the bit of history that has just ended: Trump's First Year, which will be published simultaneously with Crucible to mark the first anniversary of President Trump's inauguration, is the only book of its kind, a thorough, concise, and nonpartisan examination of Trump's first year in office. "When scholars try to make sense of President Donald Trump," says historian Aram Goudsouzian, "they will start with Michael Nelson’s book."

We are proud to partner with the Miller Center to offer these two vital and timely works. Both books are part of our new series, Miller Center Studies on the Presidency, which also features low-priced themed essay collections—available exclusively as "digital short" ebooks.


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