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 dispute, a major morality play in which the contestants struggled for a wide variety of large rewards… 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. Normative theory, because of its implicit imposition of a value system, is found to provide an… 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 presidential election process from the earliest straw polls and fundraisers to the final voter turnout… 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 focus on the efforts of the Economic Development Administration (EDA) to create jobs for the hard-core… 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, has one very great merit that easily outweighs its faults: the oil-price crisis caused by OPEC is… 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 abandonment. Naomi Caiden and Aaron Wildavsky present a well-argued and well-documented case against… More

The Private Government of Public Money: Community and Policy Inside British Politics

Heclo, Hugh and Aaron Wildavsky. The Private Government of Public Money. New York: Macmillan, 1974.

Little has been written that would tell anyone how the spending departments, Treasury officials and Cabinet members actually interact with each other and with the world outside to produce the mammoth pattern of public spending. Admirable historical work has given us some knowledge about… 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 live in a particular political culture. In dealing directly with the universe of governmental… 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 establish public policy as a discipline in its own right, Wildavsky traces its motifs from their… 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 policy. The resultant book has much to recommend it. The Politics of Mistrust is the first major social… 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 explain “the sudden, widespread, across-the-board concern about environmental pollution and… 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 desuitude after the views of the eighteenth century Enlightenment, with its skepticism about sources… 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 resources has resulted in a variety of revenue devices and spending practices. It has also caused… More

Assimilation Versus Separation: Joseph the Administrator and the Politics of Religion in Biblical Israel

Wildavsky, Aaron. Assimilation Versus Separation: Joseph the Administrator and the Politics of Religion in Biblical Israel. New Jersey: Transaction Books, 1987.

How to behave in the diaspora has been a central problem for Jews over the ages. They have debated whether to assimilate by adopting local customs or whether to remain a God-centered people loyal to their temporal rulers but maintaining the peculiar customs that separated them from their… 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 the quality of human life, but also pose great risks to human well-being. Protecting ourselves… 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 the federal budget looms as the dominant issue by which all others are considered and has become a… 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, should start with these questions, and the answers, given different historical conditions, should apply… 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, and associated fields of study. Much of the challenge to public administration stems from the… 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 been subject to continuing criticism, with dissatisfaction rising, approval rates falling, and… 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 attempt to differentiate the alliance of individualists and egalitarians who combined under this… 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 equally shared by those interested in how to improve the quality and quantity of their work. With few… 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? “For the first time in history a small number of great democracies – the United States, Japan,… 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 safe, and both had science on their side. Whom are we to trust? How are we to know? Amid this chaos of… 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 array of subjects. The essays in this volume exemplify the theory’s potential contributions to… 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 budgeting, but for Wildavsky budgeting made living together possible. Indeed, as he argues here, if… 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 stimulating approach and clear, readable explanations make it essential reading for students of… 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 recurring regularities. Political values, beliefs, and institutions were neither endlessly varied,… 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 the twin convictions that the Bible has much to say to modern political scientists and that modern… 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 industrial relations. The untidiness of a system of industrial regulation under which power is… 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 federalism and its abandonment in the United States. Over time, he became increasingly focused on… More