By Bonnie K. Goodman
Ms. Goodman is the Editor/Features Editor at HNN. She has a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University. Her blog is History Musings
This past week President George W. Bush released his highly anticipated memoirs, “Decision Points.” To coincide with the release of Bush’s memoirs, Julian Zelizer, Professor of History and Public Affairs at Princeton University has edited “The Presidency of George W. Bush: A First Historical Assessment,” (Princeton University Press, 2010). Zelizer’s book released last month is the first scholarly work that attempts to analyze and place Bush’s presidency and legacy into historical perspective. Zelizer this past week has also been the media’s number one scholarly source as they attempt to put Bush’s memoirs into a broader context. He has given a live chat on the Washington Post’s website, has given radio interviews, was interviewed by BBC and the Danish media, been quoted on MTV, has hosted a book signing of his own book, and has analyzed Decision Points in an TV interview on PBS’s Newshour.
Teaching Position: Professor of History and Public Affairs, Princeton University, 2007-Present. Faculty Associate, Center for the Study for the Study of Democratic Politics, 2007-Present.
Area of Research: American political history
Education: Ph.D., Department of History, The Johns Hopkins University, 1996;
M.A., with four Distinctions, Department of History, The Johns Hopkins University, 1993;
B.A., Summa Cum Laude with Highest Honors in History, Brandeis University, 1991.
Major Publications: Zelizer is the author of Jimmy Carter (New York: Times Books, 2010); Conservatives in Power: The Reagan Years, 1981-1989 (Boston: Bedford, 2010); Arsenal of Democracy: The Politics of National Security–From World War II to the War on Terrorism (New York: Basic Books, 2010); On Capitol Hill: The Struggle to Reform Congress and its Consequences, 1948-2000 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2004; paperback edition 2006). The book was featured on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal and Comcast’s Books of Our Times. Taxing America: Wilbur D. Mills, Congress, and the State, 1945-1975 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1998; paperback edition 2000). Winner of the Organization of American Historians 2000 Ellis Hawley Prize for Best Book on the Political Economy, Politics, and Institutions of the United States and the Lyndon B. Johnson Foundation’s 1998 D.B. Hardeman Prize for Best Publication on Congress.
Zelizer is the editor of The Presidency of George W. Bush: A First Historical Assessment (Princeton University Press, 2010); Co-Editor, The Constitution and Public Policy in U.S. History. Co-editor with Bruce Schulman (University Park: Penn State Press, 2009). This book was previously published as a special issue of the Journal of Policy History; Co-Editor, Rightward Bound: Making America Conservative in the 1970s. Co-editor with Bruce Schulman (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2008); Editor, New Directions in Policy History (University Park, PA: Penn State Press, 2005). This book was previously published as a special issue of the Journal of Policy History. Editor, The American Congress: The Building of Democracy (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2004). This book was named as a 2005 Choice Outstanding Academic Title. Co-Editor, The Democratic Experiment: New Directions in American Political History. Coedited with Meg Jacobs and William Novak (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2003).
Zelizer holds editor positions, as the Co-Editor, Politics and Society in Twentieth Century America book series, Princeton University Press, 2002-Present, and is part of the Editorial Board, The Journal of Policy History, 2002-Present.
Zelizer is currently working on the following book projects: What’s Good for Business. Co-Editor with Kimberly Phillips-Fein. Under contract with Oxford University Press; Building a Great Society: LBJ, Congress, and the Transformation of American Government. Under contract with Penguin Press.
Zelizer is also the author of numerous scholarly journal articles, book chapters and reviews; for a full listing of publications see CV
Awards: Zelizer is the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships including among others:
Featured on Emmy Award Winner, Great Moments from the Campaign Trail, History Channel, 2008;
Member, PEN American Center, 2006-Present;
John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship, 2006-2007;
Named as one of the “Top Young Historians” by the History News Network, 2005;
Telly Award. The Telly Award, which is the premier award honoring outstanding cable Programs, was given to the program Books of Our Time for the episode that Focused on my book, On Capitol Hill, 2005;
The Harry Middleton Fellowship in Presidential Studies, Lyndon Baines Johnson Foundation, 2005;
Moody Grant, Lyndon Baines Johnson Foundation, 2004;
Mellon Visiting Senior Scholar, University of Cambridge, 2004;
Dirksen Congressional Center Special Projects Research Grant, 2001;
Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, Research Fellowship, 2000;
National Endowment for the Humanities, Summer Research Stipend Award, 2000;
Harvard University Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics, and Public Policy, Goldsmith Research Award, 1999;
Dirksen Congressional Center Research Grant, 1999;
The Carl Albert Center, University of Oklahoma, Visiting Scholars Grant, 1999;
University at Albany, Support Grant for the Journal of MultiMedia History, 1999;
Student Choice Award, Enthusiasm in Teaching, University at Albany Student Association, 1999;
United University Professions Professional Development Program Grant, 1998;
Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute Grant, 1997;
Hagley Museum and Library, Grant-in-Aid, 1997;
Finalist, Distinguished Dissertation Award in the Field of Humanities and Fine Arts 1996 Council of Graduate Schools/University Microfilms International.
Formerly Professor of History, Boston University, 2004-2007;
Faculty Associate, Center for American Political Studies, Harvard University, 2004-2007; Associate Professor, Department of Public Administration and Policy, State University of New York at Albany, 2002-2004. Joint appointment with the Department of Political Science;
Affiliated Faculty, Center of Policy Research, State University of New York at Albany, 2002- 2004;
Associate Professor, Department of History, State University of New York at Albany, 1999- 2002. Joint Appointment with Department of Public Administration and Policy, 1999-2002;
Assistant Professor, Department of History, State University of New York at Albany, 1996- 1999.
Professor Zelizer is a well-known commentator in the national and international television, radio, and print media. He was featured on a show by the History Channel, Great Moments on the Campaign Trail, which was awarded an Emmy in 2008.
He is a regular contributor to CNN.Com and Politico. He has also published articles in Newsweek, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Daily Beast, The Huffington Post, The Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe and The American Prospect, among many other media appearances and commentaries in print, radio, and television.
“I’m a true historian, but I never like to be confined by boundaries. I’ve learned from social science, political science, social history. To do it right, it has to be done without any rigid disciplinary boundaries.”…
“It’s nice to teach at the same institution as a parent; it doesn’t happen very often. Given how small Princeton is, we already have many connections of similar friends.”
“Both my parents contributed to my interest in education, creating a culture where learning and knowledge is a valuable commodity. I remember my grandfather, who also was a rabbi, used to say that being a professor and a rabbi is basically the same thing in terms of learning and teaching.”…
“Political policymakers are constantly looking to questions or lessons from the past. Instead of trying to understand the last two years, let’s understand the last 200 or 300 years. You can’t understand what’s going on today if you don’t look at it historically.”… “Whether you are going to work in welfare or foreign policy, it teaches you how to think about the past in ways that actually offer help as you develop proposals in the present.”
“It was kind of an odd way to learn, but doing a live radio show every week was really helpful. I learned the medium quickly and became comfortable with going live on the air not really knowing what we were going to talk about…. Public intellectuals comment on issues of the day using what they study, and I think a professor can contribute to that even if it’s in a sound bite. It’s a different way to get my ideas out there.” –
Originally published as part of Political scholar Zelizer goes beyond disciplinary, academic boundaries, News at Princeton, 3-8-08
“What policy history does nicely is to look back to alternatives that were not taken. We can look at the New Deal to understand current economic policy. Decisions that weren’t taken might offer guidance to where we should be looking now.”…
“If we look at the Jimmy Carter era, there was a sweeping set of energy policies that were discussed, from nuclear power to increased conservation – most of which were defeated. Looking back at that brings us to ideas that have currency today.”…
“Most historians have not focused on public policy until recently. The history profession was much more concerned with social and political issues, not policy issues. As policy schools developed, historians were not really interested in becoming part of them.”
“In the past five or six years that’s started to change. A growing number of historians have become interested in the study of policy history.”
“It’s useful to convey the historical context in the classroom when they’re trying to understand long-term patterns, developments over decades. In dealing with a particular question of leadership or finance, it’s useful to see that issues have been playing out for a long time, to see how previous policymakers got around them – or did not get around them. It’s also useful for students understand the people who have had the jobs that they want to have someday,” he said.
“Many of the problems we have today are shaped by decisions that were taken years ago. We’re inheriting problems of structure that were built into the legislation.”
“It’s kind of an open-ended question. Do they just tell stories? An interdisciplinary environment offers the chance to work together with historians, political scientists and writers. In all my classes, we read a lot of work from other disciplines. There are opportunities for exciting writing and collaboration.” — Originally published as part of WWS Increases Faculty Specializing in Policy History, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public & International Affairs
By Julian E. Zelizer
I would disagree only in that there really never is a final verdict. First of all, the historians have already started to write about him. And what will happen is, there will be multiple interpretations. There will be cycles of when people are negative or — about his policies, when they see more accomplishments than we noticed at the time. You know, a president like Ronald Reagan has gone through many ups and downs in terms of how we view his character, his skills, and the record and legacy of his policies. So — so, it’s an unending debate that is about to start. And I don’t think there will be any point in time where anyone issues a verdict. And I think that’s a healthy way to treat a presidency. — JULIAN ZELIZER, Editor, “The Presidency of GEORGE W. BUSH: A First Historical Assessment”, in “Bush Releases Memoir: ‘He Knows the Historians Are Coming’” Interview with PBS Newshour, 11-9-10 — Mp3
1. George W. Bush was an uninformed Texas cowboy….
2. Compassionate conservatism was just a campaign slogan….
3. Bush committed America to nation-building projects in Iraq and Afghanistan….
4. Dick Cheney ran the Bush White House….
5. Bush left conservatism in ruins.
– Julian Zelizer, “5 myths about George W. Bush,” WaPo, 11-3-10
Besides some of the more familiar issues that shaped his presidency, such as 9/11 and the war on terrorism, looking back from 2010 raises new kinds of questions that might not have been as obvious at the time that his term ended: What impact did Bush have on the conservative movement? What was the relationship between deregulation during these years and the economic collapse in 2008? How did the economic policies of the period influence economic inequality? What was the relationship between President Bush and congressional Republicans? How did Bush overcome some of the obstacles that Obama has struggled in the political process? Did the Bush Doctrine really constitute as much as a turning point in U.S. foreign policy as it seemed at the time? How do we evaluate the impact of the Surge–and what did the decision-making behind that policy tell us about how the White House worked? How did President Bush come to push for a substantial expansion of government–through TARP–in the middle of the economic crisis? What impact did the 2006 elections have on the politics of his presidency? Which policies will outlast his presidency and why?
Obviously these are just a few questions and there are many more to discuss. But the time has come to start thinking more seriously about this two-term president and the impact that he had on the nation. It is also to start developing a more sophisticated understanding of the roots of this administration rather than writing about these years as if everything started in 2001…. – Julian Zelizer: Five myths about George W. Bush Live-Chat, WaPo, 11-8-10
About Julian E. Zelizer
Princeton University Press has already beat him into print with The Presidency of George W. Bush: A First Historical Assessment, edited by Julian E. Zelizer, who is a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton. The other 10 contributors are professors of history, international relations, law, and political science, and they cover the expected bases — the “War on Terror,” the invasion of Iraq, social and economic policy, religion and race. It is a scholarly book, which means that it is bound to make everybody mad. People on the left get angry at remembering the Bush years, while those on the right grow indignant that anyone still wants to talk about them. So the notion that they were consequential is perhaps not totally uncontroversial after all.
The contributors make three points about the Bush administration’s place in the history of American conservatism that it may be timely to sum up, just now…. – Inside Higher Ed, 11-3-10
A strength of this book is that it seeks to place the Bush presidency in the context of earlier Republican administrations. There is a peculiar conservative American perspective on the exercise of presidential power and the limits that should apply to the government….
The Bush presidency is entitled to the passage of time and the scholarship of a generation….
Truman now rests easy; his reputation polished. For Bush, despite Zelizer’s early conclusions, authoritative judgment is still some distance away. — The Australian, “A legacy in progress,” 10-9-10
Posted on Thursday, November 11, 2010 at 7:59 PM