Julian E. Zelizer

Julian E. Zelizer is a political historian at Princeton University and a fellow at New America. His new book, published by Penguin Press, is The Fierce Urgency of Now: Lyndon Johnson, Congress, and the Battle for the Great Society.

Recent Articles

In Search of Obama

Jonathan Chait lays out a case for Obama as a transformative president. 

Pete Souza/The White House/Sipa via AP Images
Pete Souza/The White House/Sipa via AP Images President Barack Obama meets with advisors in the Roosevelt Room of the White House. Audacity: How Barack Obama Defies His Critics and Created a Legacy That Will Prevail By Jonathan Chait HarperCollins This article appears in the Spring 2017 issue of The American Prospect magazine. Subscribe here . J onathan Chait’s Audacity is the perfect book for anyone in search of a robust defense of President Barack Obama. Taking aim at Obama’s critics on the right and the left, the New York magazine columnist offers a full-throated defense of the former president. In his quintessentially punchy style, Chait provides a thoughtful and compelling case as to why Obama was a transformative president. The book feels as if it were written at the height of the Democratic primary in March or April of 2016, when Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton were engaged in a brutal left-right competition for the soul of the party, rather than in early 2017 when the world...

When Liberalism Came Apart

Two new books about the late 1960s provide grist for thinking about political turbulence today. 

AP Photo/stf
AP Photo/stf Attorney General Robert Kennedy uses a bullhorn to address black demonstrators, June 14, 1963, at the Justice Department. The demonstrators marched to the White House, then to the District Building, and wound up—officially—at the Justice Department. There were few incidents. This article appeared in the Summer 2016 issue of The American Prospect magazine. Subscribe here . American Maelstrom: The 1968 Election and the Politics of Division By Michael A. Cohen Oxford University Press Bobby Kennedy: The Making of a Liberal Icon By Larry Tye Random House T he raucous rallies for George Wallace in 1968 revealed that something had gone terribly wrong in America. As the presidential candidate of the American Independent Party, the racist Alabama governor who had defied federal efforts to desegregate his state attracted the support of many white working-class Democrats, who now angrily rejected their old liberal allies. Outside a rally at Madison Square Garden, as Michael Cohen...

How Congress Got Us Out of Vietnam

Since January 10, when President Bush proposed a "troop surge" in Iraq, the administration has responded to legislative critics by stating that Congress cannot handle the responsibility of conducting an effective war. "You can't run a war by committee," Vice President Richard Cheney told FOX News on January 14. But Democrats are no longer willing to trust presidential decision-making. "You don't like to micromanage the Defense Department," responded Congressman John Murtha, "but we have to, in this case, because they're not paying attention to the public..." In the debate over whether the legislature can play a constructive role in shaping national security policy, the president's challengers have history on their side. Congress has often played a significant, albeit underappreciated, role in wartime politics. One of the best examples for current Democratic legislators is that of their Vietnam-era counterparts. Ironically, both the left and the right have criticized the performance of...

How Congress Helped End the Vietnam War

Since January 10, when President Bush proposed a "troop surge" in Iraq, the administration has responded to legislative critics by stating that Congress cannot handle the responsibility of conducting an effective war. "You can't run a war by committee," Vice President Richard Cheney told FOX News on January 14. But Democrats are no longer willing to trust presidential decision-making. "You don't like to micromanage the Defense Department," responded Congressman John Murtha, "but we have to, in this case, because they're not paying attention to the public..." In the debate over whether the legislature can play a constructive role in shaping national security policy, the president's challengers have history on their side. Congress has often played a significant, albeit underappreciated, role in wartime politics. One of the best examples for current Democratic legislators is that of their Vietnam-era counterparts. Ironically, both the left and the right have criticized the performance of...