Is the presidency too powerful? Tracing the evolution of presidential power, this reading list provides the history, laws, and politics behind how wide-ranging presidential powers can and should be.

Picking Presidents: How to Make the Most Consequential Decision in the World
by Gautam Makunda

“Bad presidents are very dangerous. In this engaging empirical study, Gautam Mukunda offers sage guidance on reforms to lower the odds of choosing the worst.”—David Frum, author of Trumpocalypse: Restoring American Democracy

In Picking Presidents, celebrated leadership expert and political scientist Gautam Mukunda provides a comprehensive, objective, and non-partisan method for answering the most important question in the world: is someone up to the job of president of the United States? Combining political science, psychology, organizational behavior, and economics, this book enables every American to cast an informed vote.

Contested Ground: How to Understand the Limits of Presidential Power
by Daniel A. Farber

“While Contested Ground challenges the public perception that presidents have nearly unlimited authority, it also stresses that legal checks and balances only go so far.”—California Magazine

The Trump presidency was not the first to spark contentious debates about presidential power, but its impact on these debates will reverberate far beyond his term. In Contested Ground, constitutional law expert Daniel Farber charts the limits of presidential power, from the fierce arguments among the Framers to those raging today to help readers make sense of the gaps and gray areas behind the heated disputes. It is essential reading for understanding power well after today’s political climate stabilizes (or doesn’t).

Democracy’s Chief Executive: Interpreting the Constitution and Defining the Future of the Presidency
by Peter M. Shane

“At a time when faith in our democratic institutions has approached a nadir, Shane offers a compelling and imaginative vision for renewing and strengthening our democracy.”—Russ Feingold, former U.S. Senator and President of the American Constitution Society

In Democracy’s Chief Executive, legal scholar Peter M. Shane confronts U.S. presidential entitlement and offers a more reasonable way of conceptualizing our constitutional presidency today while showing how the past forty-years of constitutional interpretation has set the stage presidential authoritarianism. Offering a fresh approach to balancing presidential powers, Shane develops an interpretative model of adaptive constitutionalism, based on core democratic values that Americans across the political spectrum should embrace.

They Said No to Nixon: Republicans Who Stood Up to the President’s Abuses of Power
by Michael Koncewicz

“One reason Koncewicz’s narrative is so compelling is that it’s also a redemption story.”—The Washington Post

“Excruciatingly timely.”—Kirkus Reviews

Delving into the abuses of power surrounding the Watergate era, They Said No to Nixon sheds light on the significant cultural and ideological shifts that occurred within the GOP during the pivotal 1970s, revealing how Republican party members remained loyal civil servants in the face of Richard Nixon’s best efforts to expand the imperial presidency. Michael Koncewicz deftly demonstrates how Nixon’s administration marked a decisive moment that led to the rise of modern conservatism and today’s ruthlessly partisan politics.