Instead of sticking to the periods, issues and mud-slingings which particularly interest him, the author tries to cover the high spots of each Presidential contest. He begins with a good analysis of Federalist-Democrat battles, but from there it's mostly downhill with respect to economic and political judgment. He offers a few exercises in revision (Mark Hanna was neither a true boss nor a kingmaker) and some sharp summaries of campaigns--in 1860 the Republicans virtually ignored slavery; in 1948 Truman's attack on Congress made the difference. But he too often settles for outworn platitudes (ignoring new scholarship on the Progressive Era) and gross omissions (FDR's campaigns of '36, '40 and '44). The first and last chapters examine the institution in principle and practice; Warren finds that in only two or three elections was a program unmistakably affirmed or repudiated at the polls. . . and he advises voters who felt duped by Johnson's no-escalation platform of '64 to ""blame the system's premium on attractive promises.