Jeffrey Cohen has written a tightly constructed, carefully argued, methodologically sophisticated, and historically grounded study of an important U.S. political institution. . . . The Politics of the U.S. Cabinet is a significant work of original research that will be frequently cited in any future studies of U.S. executive organization.
Jeffrey E. Cohen presents a detailed, quantitative study of the characteristics of presidential cabinets from the days of George Washington through the first Reagan administration. Dividing U.S. history into five party eras, he examines cabinet members' age, education, region, occupation, recruitment patterns, party affiliations, and relations with other branches and institutions of government. This study also addresses major theoretical issues: the Constitution never provided for a cabinet, although George Washington established it. Questions soon arose as to its functions, relation to Congress, and the rules and precedents guiding its activities. Cohen examines how the cabinet balanced representation and capability, and how, despite a lack of institutional authority, it has managed to survive through every administration.
Jeffrey Cohen provides a detailed quantified analysis of the characteristics of presidential cabinets from George Washington through Ronald Reagan's first term. . . . [and] concludes with a particularly interesting theoretical argument.
The American presidential cabinet enjoys a long tradition as a highly visible, easily identifiable governmental institution. . . . [But], the institution has not received the attention one might have expected in contemporary political science. Part of this neglect may stem from the lack of an established theoretical framework from which to approach research on the cabinet. Providing a remedy for this situation is by far the greatest contribution of Jeffrey Cohen's new book.
"The Politics of the U.S. Cabinet is of interest to serious students of the presidency, as well as to those who are concerned with political leadership and theories of representation. . . . It provides a good overview of an important political entity."