Sample Political Science Book Review on Presidential Leadership: Politics and Policy Making

Book Summary

Chapter 9 of the book “Presidential Leadership: Politics and Policy Making” by George Edwards and Stephen Wayne focuses on the interaction between president and the executive branch. This chapter falls in the second part of the book where the authors use specific case studies to illustrate presidential leadership and the means through which the executive branch affects decision-making and policy implementation. With reference to the specific case “shooting down the hijackers”, chapter nine conceptualizes the interactions that the president must make with the executive, Congress, judiciary and all the relevant stakeholders in order to achieve particular policy objectives.

In page 328 through 349 of chapter 9, the authors highlight some of the factors that may delay the implementation of a presidential decision. As much as there could be ignorance or misunderstanding on the side of the executive, Congress or Judiciary, George Edwards and Stephen Wayne agree in their writing that the subordinates can only implement a presidential decision once they are aware of a directive or an order to implement a policy. According to the authors, the executive branch may decide to establish highly developed communication lines throughout the bureaucracy, but this does not guarantee successful transmission of communication throughout the system. The authors, in this chapter, use a case of communication failure in policy implementation towards the government’s attempts to respond to 9/11 plane terrorist attack.

            In page 328 through 349 of chapter 9, the authors consider some of the reasons that make aides and other officials to ignore presidential directives. In this line of argument, the authors’ point of focus is on disagreements that result during policy development, particular, to eliminate embarrassment rejection from the public. Similarly, the George Edwards and Stephen Wayne agree in this chapter that policy implementers have considerable duties that aim at interpreting the decisions and order made by superiors. This is because most orders given by the president are never specific or rather not complete. It is, therefore, very necessary that personnel at each level of decision-making within the bureaucratic ladder must be in a position to use personal judgment with the intentions of expanding or developing such policies.   

In page 349 through 369 of chapter 9, George Edwards and Stephen Wayne discuss the transmission process of a public policy. In their discussion, George Edwards and Stephen Wayne state that a highly decentralized implementation strategy allows for efficient and accurate transmission of a public policy to ultimate implementers. It is however noted from the reading that there are now more steps to follow before the information about a public policy reach the implementers. Such steps include translation, rework and bureaucratization of a public policy, which aim at facilitating the implementation process without facing credibility issues.

In general, chapter 9 of the book addresses the many challenges the president faces before a public policy is finally implemented. The authors address issues like limited bureaucratic power as one of the main factors that derail policy implementation. With limited bureaucratic power, the president cannot command the executive branch, operates in an environment that only has scars resources and few incentives. This means that the president may not be in a position to devote time and energy to ensure implementation of public policy, but will rather play the role of a facilitator. In other words, George Edwards and Stephen Wayne believe that the fabric of American government and political system is the root cause of poor implementation a public policy.


Edwards, G. C., & Wayne, S. J. (2014). Presidential leadership: Politics and policy making. Stamford: Cengage Learning. Press.