Share this

The Enigma of Presidential Power: Parties, Policies and Strategic Uses of Unilateral Action, Fang-Yi Chiou and Lawrence S. Rothenberg

Reviewed by Yu Ouyang



How powerful are presidents in exercising their unilateral authorities? For the past several decades, both academic researchers and political observers have noted the importance of executive directives such as executive orders to a president's policy agenda and have sought to understand the underlying processes that define these presidential decisions. Yet one puzzle remains, especially in relation to executive unilateral authority: why are there “instances where the chief executive can brandish unilateral action as a weapon,” and yet “there are other times where the President comes across as extremely sensitive to the preferences of those in the majority in Congress the legislative parties to which they belong” (p. 178). Along with another recently published book on the unilateral presidency, Michelle Belco and Brandon Rottinghaus's The Dual Executive: Unilateral Orders in a Separated System, Fang-Yi Chiou and Lawrence S. Rothenberg's attempt to address what they called the “enigma of presidential power” represents some of the latest thinking on the nature of presidential power generally and the determinants of unilateral actions specifically.

Most impressively, Chiou and Rothenberg combine formal theoretical modeling with rigorous empirical methods to tackle a particular thorny question that has eluded

To continue reading, see options above.

About PSQ's Editor


Full Access

Join the Academy of Political Science and automatically receive Political Science Quarterly.


Book Talk | Phantoms of a Beleaguered Republic: The Deep State and the Unitary Executive
May 24, 2022


Editor’s spotlight

Women's History Month

Woodrow Wilson, Alice Paul, and the Woman Suffrage Movement
Sally Hunter Graham

The Year of the Woman? Candidates, Voters, and the 1992 Elections
Ester R. Fuchs and Michael X. Delli Carpini


Search the Archives

Publishing since 1886, PSQ is the most widely read and accessible scholarly journal with distinguished contributors such as: Lisa Anderson, Robert A. Dahl, Samuel P. Huntington, Robert Jervis, Joseph S. Nye, Jr., Theda Skocpol, Woodrow Wilson

view additional issues

Most read

Articles | Book reviews

Understanding the Bush Doctrine
Robert Jervis

The Study of Administration
Woodrow Wilson

Notes on Roosevelt's "Quarantine" Speech
Dorothy Borg

view all

New APS Book

Perspectives on Presidential Elections, 1992–2020   PERSPECTIVES ON PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS, 1992–2020

About US

Academy of Political Science

The Academy of Political Science, promotes objective, scholarly analyses of political, social, and economic issues. Through its conferences and publications APS provides analysis and insight into both domestic and foreign policy issues.

Political Science Quarterly

With neither an ideological nor a partisan bias, PSQ looks at facts and analyzes data objectively to help readers understand what is really going on in national and world affairs.

Stay Connected

newsstand locator
About APS