The Peaceful Transfer of Power: An Oral History of America’s Presidential Transitions

Univ. of Virginia. (Miller Center Studies on the Presidency). Oct. 2022. 300p. ISBN 9780813947761. $29.95. HIST
This product of the bipartisan Center for Presidential Transition, founded in 2008, features a foreword by filmmaker Ken Burns and contributions from historians Ted Widmer, Eric Rauchway, and Martha Kumar, and policy participants Stuart Eizenstat, David Rubenstein, James Baker, Andy Card, Mack McCarty, John Podesta, Chris Christie, Michèle Flournoy, and Ted Kaufman. Marchick (business school dean, American Univ., podcast host, Transition Lab), researcher Alexander Tippett (Council on Foreign Relations), and former speechwriter A. J. Wilson present transcripts of taped discussions with policy makers. Reflections relate disastrous power transfers—in 1861, 1933, and 2021—as well as remarkably cooperative transitions, notably in 2009. Important lessons for future handoffs include contingency planning before the election, learning the lessons of history, choosing trusted members for transition teams, prioritizing the early vetting and hiring of appointees, White House personnel, Cabinet members, and volunteers, and seeking cooperation between incoming and outgoing administrations. Two comparable books with the same title of Presidential Transitions—one by Carl Brauer and another by John P. Burke—predate the most recent contentious changeovers.
VERDICT A guide to decision-making past, present, and future that users will likely want to consult repeatedly.
Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing