Presidency scholars Bert A. Rockman
and Andrew Rudalevige
have compiled an excellent array of authors and essays in their edited volume, The Obama Legacy
(University Press of Kansas, 2019). This book, with twelve chapters that explore multiple dimensions of Barack Obama’s Administration, provides readers with substantial analysis of policy, partisanship, historical and political context in considering both the administration itself and the legacy of Obama’s administration.
This book is part of a series that has included retrospective evaluation and analysis of the presidencies of George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and now Barack Obama. While this series on individual presidential legacies was initially published by other presses, it now resides at the University Press of Kansas as part of the book series on presidential appraisals and legacies. The Obama Legacy
covers the domestic and foreign policy attempts, failures, and achievements in thoughtful chapters by Alyssa Julian, John D. Graham, and David Patrick Houghton, while also examining how Obama and his presidency contributed to shaping of the partisan landscape. Julia Azari’s chapter tracing the rise of even more acute partisanship and polarization and how the parties grappled with these dynamics is a key contribution to the presidential scholarship around party polarization. Each chapter of the book includes an assessment of partisanship and polarization because it is impossible to understand the Obama presidency and its legacy without this lens of analysis and interpretation. Alvin B. Tillery Jr. and Angela Gutierrez, Angela X. Ocampo, and Matt A. Barreto focus their respective chapters on Obama and his administration’s relationship with key demographic groups, particularly African Americans and Latino/Latina Americans. The book also pays specific attention to the Obama Administration’s relationship with the branches of government in chapters by Molly E. Reynolds, Sharice Thrower, and David A. Yalof. Rockman and Rudalevige have produced an accessible and important discussion of the Obama Administration, the impact of Obama’s two terms in the White House, and the historical context in which to consider Obama’s legacy as president.
Lilly J. Goren is professor of Political Science at Carroll University in Waukesha, WI. She co-edited the award-winning
Women and the White House: Gender, Popular Culture, and Presidential Politics (University Press of Kentucky, 2012).