American Politics Reading List

Department of Political Science, Yale University
(Updated Spring 2012)

This list should not be understood as a canon that must be internalized to provide a foundation in American politics but as a guide to important issues and controversies in the field. Students should draw on their general knowledge of American politics, as well as courses on American Politics and other relevant areas.
Starred readings are particularly important, instructive, and/or foundational. Reading this subset of the list is not sufficient, however, for passage of the exam.

American Political Development and Thought

B. Ackerman, We the People, Vol. 1, ch. 1; Vol. 2, chs. 1, 2, 9, and 10

B. Balogh, Government Out of Sight: The Mystery of National Authority in the Nineteenth Century, Ch. 1,2,5,7,9.

R. Bensel, The Political Economy of American Industrialization, chs. 1, 2, 5, 6, 7

D. Carpenter, The Forging of Bureaucratic Autonomy, intro, chs. 1-5, conclusion

R. Dahl, A Preface to Democratic Theory

* Federalist Papers, nos 10, 37, 39, 46-48, 51, 52, 54, 55, 57, 62, 63, 70, 78

E. Eisenach, The Lost Promise of Progressivism, ch 1,2, 4.

* L. Hartz, The Liberal Tradition in America, chs 1-2

S.P. Huntington, American Politics: The Promise of Disharmony, chs. 1, 2, 5-8

I. Katznelson, K. Geiger & D. Kryder, “Limiting Liberalism: The Southern Veto in Congress, 1933-1950,” Political Science Quarterly 108 (1993), 283-306

G. Myrdal, An American Dilemma, chs. 1-4, 9

K. Orren & S. Skowronek, The Search for American Political Development, chs. 1, 3, 4

P. Pierson, “Increasing Returns, Path Dependence, and the Study of Politics,” APSR 94 (2000), 251-67

T. Skocpol, Protecting Soldiers and Mothers, ch. 1 and conclusion

* S. Skowronek, Building a New American State, pp. 1-176

* R.M. Smith, “Beyond Toqueville, Myrdal, and Hartz: The Multiple Traditions in America,” APSR 87 (1993): 549

M. Stears, Progressives, Pluralists, and the Problems of the State, chs. 1,2,4,5.

* A. de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, vol I: pt. I, chs. 2-6, pt. II, chs. 1-10; vol II: pt. II, chs. 1-9, 20; pt. III, ch. 12; pt. IV, ch. 6

* The U.S. Constitution

D. Vogel, “Why Businessmen Distrust ‘Their’ State,” British Journal of Political Science 8 (1978), 45

G. Wood, Creation of the American Republic, chs. 2-4, 8-10, 13, 15


S. Ansolabehere, J.M. Snyder, Jr. & C. Stewart III, “The Effects of Party and Preferences on Congressional Roll Call Voting,” Legislative Studies Quarterly 26 (2001), 533

* R.D. Arnold, The Logic of Congressional Action, chs. 1-6, 8

S.A. Binder, “The Dynamics of Legislative Gridlock, 1947-96,” APSR 93 (1999), 51

J. M. Carey, G. F. Moncrief, R.G. Niemi & L. W. Powell, “The Effects of Terms Limits on State Legislatures: A New Survey of the 50 States,” Legislative Studies Quarterly 31 (2006), 105.

G. Cox & M. McCubbins, Setting the Agenda, chs. 2,3,5.

R. Fenno, Jr., Congressmen in Committees, introduction and chs. 1-4

R. Fenno, Jr., Homestyle, chs 1, 2, 7, appendix

L. Fowler and R. McClure, Political Ambition: Who Decides to Run for Congress, intro, chs. 8-9

T. Groseclose & D.C. King, “Committee Theories Reconsidered,” ch. 9 in L. C. Dodd & B. I. Oppenheimer (eds.), Congress Reconsidered (7th ed., 2001).

R. Hall, “Participation and Purpose in Committee Decision Making,” APSR 81 (1987), 105

* K. Krehbiel, Information and Legislative Organization, chs. 1-3

* K. Krehbiel, Pivotal Politics, chs 1-3.

D. Mayhew, Congress: The Electoral Connection

* D. Mayhew, Divided We Govern, all but ch. 2

N. Polsby, “The Institutionalization of the U. S. House of Representatives,” APSR 62 (1968), 144

G. P. Miquel & J. Snyder, “Legislative Effectiveness and Legislative Life,” Legislative Studies Quarterly, forthcoming (2006)
[online at]

* K.T. Poole & H. Rosenthal, “Patterns of Congressional Voting,” AJPS 35 (1991), 228

* E. Schickler, Disjointed Pluralism, chs. 1, 5, 6

K. Shotts, “Does Racial Redistricting Cause Conservative Policy Outcomes?” Journal of Politics 65 (2003), 216-26

B. Weingast & W. Marshall, “The Industrial Organization of Congress,” Journal of Political Economy 96 (1988), 132

M. Hawkesworth, “Towards a Theory of Race-Gendered Institutions,” APSR 97 (2003), 529


B. Canes-Wrone, Who Leads Whom?, chs. 1-4,7.

W. Howell, Power without Persuasion, chs. 1-5

Howell and Pevehouse, While Dangers Gather, 1-4.

C.O. Jones, The Presidency in a Separated System, chs. 1, 8

H.C. Mansfield, Jr., Taming the Prince, chs. 1, 3, 6, 8, 10

N. McCarty & C. Cameron, “Models of Vetoes and Veto Bargaining,” Annual Review of Political Science 7 (2005), 409-435

* T. Moe, “The Politicized Presidency,” ch. 9 in J. Chubb & P. Peterson (eds.), The New Direction in American Politics

* R. Neustadt, Presidential Power, chs. 1-8 (on the Truman & Eisenhower presidencies)

A. Rudalevige, The New Imperial Presidency, chs. 4-7.

* S. Skowronek, The Politics Presidents Make, chs. 1-3

J. Tulis, The Rhetorical Presidency

A. Wildavsky, “The Two Presidencies,” in Wildavsky, Perspectives on the Presidency, 448-61

The Courts

P.R. Brace & M.G. Hall, “The Interplay of Preferences, Case Facts, Context, and Rules in the Politics of Judicial Choice,” Journal of Politics 59 (1997), 1206

G.A. Caldeira & J.L. Gibson, “The Etiology of Public Support for the Supreme Court,” AJPS 36 (1992), 635

C. Cameron, J.A. Segal & D. Songer, “Strategic Auditing in a Political Hierarchy,” APSR 94 (2000), 101-16

* R. Dahl, “Decision-Making in a Democracy: The Supreme Court as a National Policy-Maker,” Journal of Public Law 6 (1957), 279

H. Gilman, “How Political Parties Can Use the Courts to Advance Their Agendas,” APSR 2002.

G. A. Huber & S. Gordon, “Accountability and Coercion,” AJPS 48 (2004), 247

V. Hoekstra, Public Reaction to Supreme Court Decisions (2003).

R.S. Melnick, Between the Lines, parts I, III, and V

G. Rosenberg, “Positivism, Interpretivism, and the Study of Law, Law,” and Social Inquiry 1996; and M. McCain, “Causal vs Consitutive Explanations (or on the Difficulties of Being SO Positive),” Law and Social Inquiry, 1996

R. Smith, “Political Jurisprudence, the ‘New Institutionalism,’ and the Future of Public Law,” APSR 82 (1988), 89

K.E. Whittington, “Interpose Your Friendly Hand: Political Supports and the Exercise of Judicial Review,” APSR, 2005.

Bureaucracy/ Public Administration

G. Allison, “Conceptual Models and the Cuban Missile Crisis,” APSR 63 (1969), 689

D. Epstein and S. O’Halloran, “Administrative Procedures, Information, and Agency Discretion,” AJPS 38 (1994), 697

M. Lipsky, “Toward a Theory of Street-Level Bureaucracy,” in W. Hawley et al., Theoretical Perspectives in Urban Politics

M. McCubbins & T. Schwartz, “Congressional Oversight Overlooked,” AJPS 28 (1984), 165

* T. Moe, “Control and Feedback in Economic Regulation: The Case of the NLRB,” APSR, 79:4 (1985), 1094

T. Moe, “The Politics of Bureaucratic Structure,” in J. Chubb & P.Peterson (eds.), Can the Government Govern?

H. Simon, Administrative Behavior, chs. 1, 2, 4, 7

* J.Q. Wilson, Bureaucracy, pp. ix-xii, 31-110, 157-175, 196-217, 348-78

*M. Weber, Economy and Society, ch. III, section ii (“Legal Authority with a Bureaucratic Administrative Staff”), pp 217-26 in Ross and Wittich translation (1978).

Parties and Elections

J. Aldrich, Why Parties?, chs. 1, 6-7

A. Alesina & H. Rosenthal, Partisan Politics, Divided Government, and the Economy, chs. 3-7

S. Ansolabehere, J. M. de Figueiredo, & J. Snyder, Jr., “Why Is There So Little Money in U.S. Politics?” Journal of Economic Perspectives 17 (2003), 105

S. Ansolabehere & J. Snyder, Jr., “The Incumbency Advantage in U.S. Elections,” Election Law Journal 1 (2002), 315

* L. M. Bartels & J. Zaller, “Presidential Vote Models: A Recount,” PS 34 (2001), 9

W.D. Burnham, “The Changing Shape of The American Political Universe,” APSR 59 (1965), 7

R. Dahl, “Myth of the Presidential Mandate,” Political Science Quarterly 105 (1990), 355

* A. Downs, An Economic Theory of Democracy, chs. 1-8

L.D. Epstein, Political Parties in the American Mold, ch. 4

M. Fiorina, Divided Government (1996 ed.)

M. Fiorina, Retrospective Voting in American National Elections, chs. 1, 4, 5, 9

C. Gay, “The Effect of Black Congressonal Representation on Political Participation,” APSR 95 (2001), 589-602

A. Gelman & G. King, “Why Are American Presidential Campaign Polls So Variable When Votes Are So Predictable?,” British Journal of Political Science 23 (1993), 409

A.S. Gerber & D.P. Green, “The Effects of Canvassing, Telephone Calls, and Direct Mail on Voter Turnout: A Field Experiment,” APSR 94 (2000), 653-63

J. Gerring, Party Ideologies in America, ch 1-3, 5

G. C. Jacobson, “Reversal of Fortune: The Transformation of U.S. House Elections in the 1990s,” ch. 2 in D. W. Brady, J. F. Cogan & M. P. Fiorina (eds.), Continuity and Change in House Elections (2000)

V.O. Key, Jr., “A Theory of Critical Elections,” Journal of Politics 17 (1955), 3

D. R. Kiewiet & M. Udell, “Twenty-Five Years After Kramer: An Assessment of Economic Retrospective Voting,” Economics and Politics 10 (1998), 219-48

D. Mayhew, “Electoral Realignments,” Annual Review of Political Science 3 (2000), 449

M.P. McDonald & S.L. Popkin, “The Myth of the Vanishing Voter,” APSR 95 (2001), 963-74

S. Rosenstone & J.M. Hansen, Mobilization, Participation, and Democracy in America

* F. Sorauf, “Political Parties and Political Analysis,” ch. 2 in W.N Chambers and W.D. Burnham (eds.), The American Party Systems, 2d ed. (1967)

J. Sundquist, Dynamics of the Party System (1983 ed.), chs. 1-3, 10-end

Civil Society, Social Movements, Interest Groups, Power

D. Chong, Collective Action and the Civil Rights Movement, chs. 1, 5, 8, 10

* R. Dahl, Who Governs? chs. 1, 8-18

M. Dawson, Behind the Mule: Race and Class in African-American Politics, Part I, conclusion

J. Gaventa, Power and Powerlessness, pt. 1, ch. 4

V.O. Key, Jr., Southern Politics, chs. 2, 8, 11, 14

C.E. Lindblom, “The Market as Prison,” Journal of Politics 44 (1982), 324.

K. Luker, Abortion and the Politics of Motherhood, pp. 1-9, 92-245

D. McAdam, Political Process and the Development of Black Insurgency, chs. 1-3

* M. Olson, The Logic of Collective Action, chs. 1-2, 5-6

R. Putnam, Bowling Alone, chs. 1 -3, 10-15, 21

* E.E. Schattschneider, The Semi-Sovereign People

T. Skocpol, Diminished Democracy, chs. 2, 4, 5

John Skrentny, The Minority Rights Revolution, chs. 4-5, 8-9

D.B. Truman, The Governmental Process 2d ed., chs. 1-6, 16

J. Walker, “The Origins and Maintenance of Interest Groups in America,” APSR 77 (1983), 390

J.Q. Wilson, Political Organizations, chs. 1-3

Public Opinion, Party Identification, Attitudes

B. Berelson et al., Voting, chs. 2-7, 13, 14

L. Bobo, “Group Conflict, Prejudice, and the Paradox of Contemporary Racial Attitudes,” pp. 85-114 in P.A. Katz & D.A. Taylor (eds.), Eliminating Racism

* A. Campbell et al., The American Voter (unabridged edition, which has different chapter numbers), chs. 1, 4-7, 13

E. Carmines & J. Stimson, “On the Structure and Sequence of Issue Evolution,” APSR 80 (1986), 901

* P. Converse, “The Nature of Belief Systems in Mass Publics,” in D. Apter (ed.), Ideology and Discontent

* R.S. Erikson, M.B. McKuen & J.A. Stimson, The Macro Polity, chs. 1, 3, 4, 7-10

B. Page and R. Shapiro, The Rational Public, chs. 1, 2, 10

M. Gilens, Why Americans Hate Welfare, chs. 3, 5

D. Green, B. Palmquist & E. Schickler, Partisan Hearts and Minds, chs. 1, 2, 8

J. Hochschild, What’s Fair?, chs. 1, 2, 9

D. Kinder & D. Sears, “Public Opinion and Political Actions,” in Lindzey & Aronson (eds.), Handbook of Social Psychology

J.A. Krosnick & D.R. Kinder, “Altering the Foundations of Support for the President through Priming,” APSR 84 (1990), 497-512

T. Mendelberg, “Executing Hortons: Racial Crime in the 1988 Presidential Campaign,” Public Opinion Quarterly 61 (1997)

D. Sears, “Symbolic Racism,” pp. 53-84 in P.A. Katz & D.A. Taylor (eds.), Eliminating Racism

J. Sullivan et al, Political Tolerance and American Democracy, chs. 1-4, 7

S. Verba et al., “Citizen Activity: Who Participates? What Do They Say?” APSR 87 (1993), 303

* J. Zaller, The Nature and Origins of Mass Opinion, chs. 1-5, 9

Public Policy

A. Alesina, E. Glaeser & B. Sacerdote, “Why Doesn’t the United States Have a European-Style Welfare State?” Brookings Papers on Economic Activity 2 (2001), 1-69

L. Bartels, Unequal Democracy, ch. 2-6, 9.

F. Baumgartner & B. Jones, Agendas and Instability in American Politics, chs. 4-6

A. Campbell, “Self-Interest, Social Security, and the Distinctive Participation Patterns of Senior Citizens,” APSR 96 (2002), 565-74

M. Derthick, “The Structural Protections of American Federalism,” H. Scheiber (ed.), North American and Comparative Federalism

M. Derthick & P. Quirk, The Politics of Deregulation, chs. 1, 3, 7

J. Hacker, The Divided Welfare State, Introduction

* H. Heclo, “Issue Networks in the Executive Establishment,” ch. 3 in A. King (ed.), The New American Political System (1st ed.)

R. Kagan, “Adversarial Legalism and American Government,” Journal of Policy Analysis and Management 10 (1991), 369

* J. Kingdon, Agendas, Alternatives, and Public Policies (2nd ed), chs 9-10

C.E. Lindblom, “The Science of Muddling Through,” Public Administration Review 19 (1959), 79

T. Lowi, “American Business, Public Policy, Case-Studies, and Political Theory,” World Politics 16 (1964), 677. (An updated version: “Four Systems of Policy, Politics, and Choice,” Public Administration Review 32 (1972), 298)

T. Lowi, The End of Liberalism (2nd ed.), pp. xi-63, 92-107, 271-94

D. Massey, “American Apartheid: Segregation and the Making of the Underclass,” American Journal of Sociology 96 (1990), 329

E. Patashnik, Reforms at Risk, Ch. 1,2,9.

* P. Peterson, City Limits, chs. 1-4, 9

P. Pierson, “The New Politics of the Welfare State,” World Politics 48 (1996), 143

J. Pressman & A. Wildavsky, Implementation, chs. 1-3, 5

A. Schneider & H. Ingram, “Social Construction of Target Populations: Implications for Politics and Policy,” APSR 87 (1993), 334.