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The President's First Year
Edited by Michael Nelson, Jeffrey L. Chidester, and Stefanie Georgakis Abbott

BUY Cloth · 336 pp. · 6.125 × 9.25 · ISBN 9780813940960 · $29.95 · Jan 2018
BUY Ebook · 336 pp. · ISBN 9780813940977 · $29.95 · Jan 2018
BUY Paper · 336 pp. · 6.125 × 9.25 · ISBN 9780813941981 · $19.95 · Sep 2018

Is the presidency a position one must learn on the job, or can one learn from others’ experience? No common thread runs through the list of forty-five presidents; no playbook provides the answers to all the challenges a president will face. Yet even in the most unprecedented situations, history can be instructive. Drawn from the Miller Center’s First Year project--which seeks to provide a historical framework to guide future presidents and their teams in the crucial first year of a new administration-- Crucible addresses core questions of governance facing a new president, from navigating a broken political system to thriving in a changing media environment. The project’s illustrious participants--including Stephen Skowronek, Alan Taylor, Gary Gallagher, Sidney M. Milkis, H. W. Brands, William A. Galston, and Peter Wehner, among many others--explore both opportunities and challenges in key policy areas, from national security, race, and immigration to opportunity, mobility, and fiscal policy.

Crucible consolidates the most salient lessons that can be drawn from both the best and the worst presidencies in American history, as well as from the many in between, to provide true insight on the most important issues facing any new president in the first year of office.

Contributors: Douglas A. Blackmon * Hal Brands * H. W. Brands * Robert F. Bruner * Mary Kate Cary * Jeffrey L. Chidester * Carolyn Dewar * Tom Dohrmann * Susan J. Douglas * Anita Dunn * Michael Eric Dyson * Jeffrey A. Engel * Andrew Erdmann * Michèle A. Flournoy * Jeffrey Frieden * Gary W. Gallagher * William A. Galston * Daniel J. Galvin * Stefanie Georgakis Abbott * David Greenberg * Ryan Harper * Willis Jenkins * Elaine C. Kamarck * Bruce Katz * Melvyn P. Leffler * Guian McKee * Sidney M. Milkis * Peter Morton * Michael Nelson * Patrick O’Brien * Margaret O’Mara * Orlando Patterson * Barbara A. Perry * Andrew Rudalevige * Marc Selverstone * Jeff Shesol * Stephen Skowronek * Jeremi Suri * Alan Taylor * Daniel Tichenor * Peter Wehner * Mason B. Williams * Philip Zelikow


"No other organization can put the presidency and presidential history into context like the Miller Center. The key is that it combines historical analysis with interviews, recordings, and public conversation with those who served and had to make the hard decisions. History is active at the Miller Center, as demonstrated by the First Year Project, which brings the past and the present together to understand what we’re going through and ultimately make public policy better."

John Dickerson, Host of Face the Nation

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.'

Kirkus Reviews

This essay collection offers analysis from scholars and governmental practitioners concerning a new president’s initial year in office. Several of the forty-two essays are the length of newspaper op-eds, but insightful analysis can be found even in the briefest essays.


This work, aptly titled Crucible, offers an important edited collection on the challenges of a president’s first year in office..... Of particular note is the broad range of contributors: not just political scientists but also historians and former administration officials. While several of the pieces concentrate on recent administrations, there is a welcome measure of broader historical context provided by others.... I pondered what single nugget of advice Trump and his associates might have gleaned from this volume had they been able to peruse it starting out.

Congress and the Presidency

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