Dixon-Yates: A Study in Power Politics

– Wildavsky, Aaron. Dixon-Yates: A Study in Power Politics. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1962.
“For several years one of the most important controversies in American politics was symbolized by the phrase “Dixon-Yates.” It was, along with the Hell’s Canyon… More

Politics of the Budgetary Process

– Wildavsky, Aaron. Politics of the Budgetary Process. Boston: Little, Brown & Company, 1964.
“In this very readable book A. Wildavsky challenges traditional normative approaches to a theory of budgeting and proposes a political basis for understanding the budget process.… More

Presidential Elections: Strategies of American Electoral Politics

– Wildavsky, Aaron and Nelson Polsby. Presidential Elections: Strategies of American Electoral Politics. New York: Scribner, 1964.
“Brimming with data and examples from the heated 2008 election and laced with previews of the 2012, the thirteenth edition of this classic text offers a complete overview of the… More

Implementation: How Great Expectation in Washington are Dashed in Oakland; or, Why It’s Amazing that Federal Programs Work at All

– Wildavsky, Aaron and Jeffrey Pressman. Implementation: How Great Expectations in Washington are Dashed in Oakland; or, Why It's Amazing That Federal Programs Work At All. Berkeley, University of California Press, 1973.
“Very few case studies are interesting except to those who have been involved in the case, but this book is a delightful and worthwhile exception. Although Pressman and Wildavsky… More

The Great Detente Disaster: Oil and the Decline of American Foreign Policy

– Wildavsky, Aaron and Edward Friedland and Paul Seabury. The Great Detente Disaster: Oil and the Decline of American Foreign Policy. New York: Basic Book, 1973.
“Multiple authorship rarely succeeds; haste and passion are the enemies of thought. But this book, written in obvious haste by three dissimilar authors, and evidently strongly felt,… More

Planning and Budgeting in Poor Countries

– Wildavsky, Aaron and Naomi Caiden. Planning and Budgeting in Poor Countries. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1974.
“It should be little surprise that although economic planning has enjoyed something of a venerated status in the development literature, a proposition should be made for its total… More

Budgeting: A Comparative Theory of Budgetary Processes

– Wildavsky, Aaron. Budgeting: A Comparative Theory of Budgetary Processes. Boston: Little, Brown & Company, 1975.
Aaron Wildavsky collects in one place the existing knowledge on budgeting. Realistic budgets are an expression of practical politics. Budgeting is so basic it reveals the norms by which men… More

Speaking Truth to Power: The Art and Craft of Policy Analysis

– Wildavsky, Aaron. Speaking Truth to Power: The Art and Craft of Policy Analysis. Boston: Little, Brown & Company, 1979.
Wildavsky attempts not only to describe what public policy is, but given societal changes in the last two decades, to account for its present status. To learn from the past in order to… More

The Politics of Mistrust: Estimating American Oil and Gas Resources

– Wildavsky, Aaron and Ellen Tenebaum. The Politics of Mistrust: Estimating Oil and Gas Reserves. Beverly Hills: SAGE, 1981.
Wildavsky and Tenebaum have compiled an interesting and, at time, insightful analysis of the relation between estimates of oil and gas reserves and the formulation of American energy… More

Risk and Culture, An Essay on the Selection of Technical and Environmental Dangers

– Douglas, Mary and Aaron Wildavsky. Risk and Culture: An Essay on the Selection of Technological and Environmental Dangers. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1982.
“Risk and Culture … consists of two interwoven but separable parts: (1) an abstract theory of the relationship between risk and culture; and (2) an application of the theory to… More

The Nursing Father: Moses as a Political Leader

– Wildavsky, Aaron. The Nursing Father: Moses as a Political Leader. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1984.
“In recent years there has emerged a new interest in using classic Jewish texts as sources for contemporary political understanding, reviving an ancient art that had fallen into… More

A History of Taxation and Expenditure in the Western World

– Webber, Carolyn and Aaron Wildavsky. A History of Taxation and Expenditure in the Western World. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1986.
“Throughout history, all governments, regardless of their form, have sustained themselves by controlling the purse. This exercise of the power to tax their citizens and allocate… More

Searching for Safety

– Wildavsky, Aaron. Searching for Safety. New Jersey: Transaction Books, 1988.
“Nuclear power plants, new vaccines and drugs, pesticides designed to improve agricultural production, and a plethora of other technological advances hold great promise of improving… More

The Deficit and the Public Interest: The Search for Responsible Budgeting in the 1980s

– White, Joseph and Aaron Wildavsky. The Deficit and the Public Interest: The Search for Responsible Budgeting in the 1980s. Berkeley, University of California Press, 1989.
“Political time is counted, not in years, but in issues—the depression defined the political era of the 1930s just as the cold war did the 1950s and civil rights the 1960s. Today… More

Cultural Theory

– Thompson, Michael, Richard Ellis, and Aaron Wildavsky. Cultural Theory. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1990.
Why do people want what they want? Why does one person see the world as a place to control, while another feels controlled by the world? A useful theory of culture, the authors contend,… More

Public Administration: The State of the Discipline

– Ed. Lynn, Naomi and Aaron Wildavsky. Public Administration: The State of the Discipline. London: Chatham House Publishers, 1990.
“Public Administration represents an early, and up to this most most useful and complete academic response to the legitimation crisis that has overtaken government, public service,… More

The Beleaguered Presidency

– Wildavsky, Aaron. The Beleaguered Presidency. New Jersey: Transaction Publishers, 1991.
“Since the presidency of Lyndon Johnson between 1963 and 1968, there is much reason to believe that the executive office is in trouble. For the past twenty-five years, presidents have… More

The Rise of Radical Egalitarianism

– Wildavsky, Aaron. The Rise of Radical Egalitarianism. Washington, D.C.: American University Press, 1991.
“Aaron Wildavsky believes that what has always made America exceptional is the extraordinary belief that equal opportunity and equal conditions are compatible. His book begins with an… More

Craftways: On the Organization of Scholarly Work

– Wildavsky, Aaron. Craftways: On the Organization of Scholarly Work. New Jersey: Transaction Publishers, 1993.
“The one subject that serious students want most to know about, other than their specialty, is how academic life is lived and how scholarly work is carried out. Their curiosity is… More

The Real World Order: Zones of Peace / Zones of Turmoil

– Singer, Max and Aaron Wildavsky. The Real World Order: Zones of Peace / Zones of Turmoil. London: Chatham House Publishers, 1993.
This old-fashioned book presents a grand line of argument that “the current world order will be different and better than the one with which we are familiar.” The reason?… More

But Is It True? A Citizen’s Guide to Environmental Health and Safety Issues

– Wildavsky, Aaron. But Is It True?: A Citizen's Guide to Environmental Health and Safety Issues. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1995.
“We’ve eaten Alar with our apples and PCBs with our fish, drunk arsenic with our water, breathed asbestos in our schools. Someone sounded the alarm, someone else said we were… More

Culture and Social Theory

– Wildavsky, Aaron. Culture and Social Theory. New Jersey: Transaction Books, 1998.
“Aaron Wildavsky, along with Mary Douglas, identified what they called grid-group theory. Wildavsky began calling this “cultural theory,” and applied it to an astounding… More

Budgeting and Governing

– Wildavsky, Aaron. Budgeting and Governing. New Jersey: Transaction Books, 2001.
“Aaron Wildavsky’s greatest concern, as expressed in his writings, is how people manage to live together. This concern may at first appear to have little to do with the study of… More

The New Politics of the Budgetary Process

– Wildavsky, Aaron and Naomi Caiden. The New Politics of the Budgetary Process. New York: Longman Classics, 2003.
“This text explains how the federal budget process has evolved and analyzes recent developments in key areas: entitlements, defense, deficit/surplus and reforms. Its critical and… More

Cultural Analysis: Politics, Public Law and Administration

– Wildavsky, Aaron. Cultural Analysis: Politics, Public Law, and Administration. New Jersey: Transaction Publishers, 2005.
“As a result of a lifetime of incomparably wide-ranging investigations, Aaron Wildavsky concluded that politics in the United States and elsewhere was a patterned activity, exhibiting… More

Moses as a Political Leader

– Wildavsky, Aaron. Moses as a Political Leader, Jerusalem, Shalem Press: 2005.
A new edition of Wildavsky’s fascinating interpretation of Moses’ political leadership, with a preface by Yoram Hazony. Allan Mittleman: “Wildavsky’s works ride from… More

Studies In Australian Politics: The 1926 Referendum

– Wildavsky, Aaron. Studies in Australian Politics. Melbourne: F.W. Cheshire, 1958.
“Though primarily a study of the extent to which the interests of particular groups may cut across party lines in Australian politics, this book contains a great deal that concerns… More

Federalism & Political Culture

– Wildavsky, Aaron, ed., Brendan Swedlow, David Schleicher, and Daniel Elazar. Federalism and Political Culture. New Jersey: Transaction Books, 1997.  
“Aaron Wildavsky well understood that federalism is about freedom and diversity – not hierarchy and decentralization. His was an intensely normative concern with the promise of… More


The Two Presidencies

– Wildavsky, Aaron. "The Two Presidencies," Trans-Action/Society, 4 (1966): 7-14.
“The United States has one president, but it has two presidencies; one presidency is for domestic affairs, and the other is concerned with defense and foreign policy. Since World War… More

PPBS: the Political Economy of Efficiency,

– Wildavsky, Aaron. "PBBS: The Political Economy of Efficiency," Public Interest, Summer 1967.
There was a day when the meaning of economic efficiency was reasonably dear. An objective met up with a technician. Efficiency consisted in meeting the objective at the lowest cost or in… More

The Empty Head Blues — Black Rebellion and White Reaction?

– Wildavsky, Aaron. "The Empty Head Blues - Black Rebellion and White Reaction?" Public Interest, Spring 1968.  
Liberals have been moaning those empty-head blues. They feel bad. They know the sky is about to fall in. But they can’t think of anything to do. Having been too sanguine and too… More

The Politics of ABM

– Wildavsky, Aaron. "The Politics of ABM," Commentary Magazine, November 1969.
“Issues have lives of their own. Men cannot often choose the ground on which to fight major issues; they must take what the world offers up. There is always the danger, then, that the… More

Does Planning Work?

– Wildavsky, Aaron. "Does Planning Work?" Public Interest Summer 1971.
The individual versus the state; freedom versus dictatorship; private enterprise versus state control; price systems versus hierarchical command; rational economic choice versus irrational… More

Government and the People

– Wildavsky, Aaron. "Government and the People," Commentary Magazine, August 1973.
“We shall never learn what needs to be learned about the American political system until we understand not only what the system does to the people, but what the people do to the… More

The Past and Future Presidency

– Wildavsky, Aaron. "The Past and Future Presidency." Public Interest, Fall 1975
In the third volume of The American Commonwealth, Lord Bryce wrote, “Perhaps no form of Government needs great leaders so much as democracy.” Why, then, is it so difficult to find them?… More

The Prophylactic Presidency

– Wildavsky, Aaron and Sanford Weiner. "The Prophylactic Presidency." Public Interest, Summer 1978
Most decisions are reactions to what has already happened. When evils are perceived, we attempt to mitigate them. Then our security depends on our capacity to cope with changing… More

Oh, Bring Back My Party to Me!

– Wildavsky, Aaron. "Oh, Bring Back My Party to Me!" Public Interest, Fall 1979.
When Betty Furness said (after a White House meeting with consumer groups) that no one ever talked to Lyndon Johnson like that, was she suggesting that Jimmy Carter lacks a presidential… More

Richer is Safer

– Wildavsky, Aaron. "Richer is Safer." Public Interest, Summer 1980.
The proverbial man from Mars, observing our safety efforts in the past decade, could not help but conclude that the youth of America were dropping like flies in the streets. Why else would… More

The Three-party System — 1980 and After

– Wildavsky, Aaron. "The Three-party System -- 1980 and After." Public Interest, Summer 1981.
The election of 1980 could be the beginning of a Republican renaissance, but it could just as well be the beginning of the end for the Republican Party. It could be the herald of limited… More

The Three Cultures: Explaining Anomalies in the American Welfare State

– Wildavsky, Aaron. "The Three Cultures: Explaining Anomalies in the American Welfare State." Public Interest, Fall 1982.
In the late 1940’s, at Brooklyn College, I became aware of a political anomaly: Some of my fellow student activists were neither capitalists nor socialists nor reformists.  Certainly… More

The Once and Future School of Public Policy

– Wildavsky, Aaron. "The Once and Future School of Public Policy," The Public Interest. Spring 1985.
“I have two partially complementary and partially opposed views. One is that schools of public policy as they now exist will continue much as they are. The other is that social… More

The ‘Reverse Sequence’ in Civil Liberties

– Wildavsky, Aaron. "The 'Reverse Sequence' in Civil Liberties" Public Interest, Winter 1985.
A number of years I belonged to the American Civil Liberties Union. To me this membership was part of a commitment to perfecting American democracy. I became a political scientist for the… More

The Media’s ‘American Egalitarians’

– Wildavsky, Aaron. "The Media's 'American Egalitarians'" Public Interest, Summer 1987.
You are listening to Public Radio or viewing network television news or reading a major newspaper or news magazine. You are certain they are biased, i.e., slanted, systematically favoring… More

Where Bias and Influence Meet

– Wildavsky, Aaron. "Where Bias and Influence Meet" Public Interest, Spring 1988
Of the three great questions about the influence of the major media upon political opinion—Is there a systematic media bias? If so, in what direction does it flow? Is public opinion… More

How to Fix the Deficit – Really

– Wildavsky, Aaron and Joseph White. "How to Fix the Deficit - Really." Public Interest, Winter 1989.
American politics in the 1980s has been dominated by Ronald Reagan and federal budget deficits. Reagan is gone now, but the deficit remains. The new President and old Congress have many… More

Robert Bork and the Crime of Inequality

– Wildavsky, Aaron. "Robert Bork and the Crime of Inequality" Public Interest, Winter 1990.
Whereas other failed nominations to the Supreme Court have sunk from public view, the debate over Judge Robert Bork gains in intensity as if the state of the nation, and not merely the fate… More

Is Culture the Culprit?

– Wildavsky, Aaron. "Is Culture the Culprit?" Public Interest, Fall 1993.
Theory is golden. In its normative mode, it connects us to what we ought to do; in its empirical expression, it connects what we have done to the actual consequences for ourselves and for… More

Controlling Public Expenditure: The Theory of Expenditure Limitation

– Wildavsky, Aaron. "Controlling Public Expenditure: The Theory of Expenditure Limitation." OECD Journal on Budgeting. Vol. 2, No. 4, 2003.  
“What don’t I mean by expenditure limitation? This paper is not about why governments should choose to limit spending. If governments wish to increase spending, that is… More


New York Times Obituary

– Eric Pace, "Aaron Wildavsky, A Budgeting Expert And Researcher, 63," September 16, 1993.
In his 1990 book, “The Deficit and the Public Interest” (University of California Press), which he wrote with Joseph White, he said that the nation’s “deficit is… More

Aaron Wildavsky, Incrementalism, and Defense Budgeting

– L.R. Jones, J.L. McCaffery, "Aaron Wildavsky, Incrementalism, and Defense Budgeting," Naval Postgraduate School Paper, 1994.
This essay considers the impact of Wildavsky’s work on the theme of Defense budgeting.


Risk and Liberty

– The Jim Turney Collection.
From a 1987 university lecture.