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Humanities Libertexts

14.S: The Bureaucracy (Summary)

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  •  Recommended Reading

    • Fenno, Richard F., Jr. The President’s Cabinet. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1959. The best study of how cabinet secretaries “go native.”
    • Golden, Marissa Martino. What Motivates Bureaucrats? New York: Columbia University Press, 2000. An illuminating study of four agencies amid Reagan’s administrative presidency.
    • Goodsell, Charles T. The Case for Bureaucracy: A Public Administration Polemic, 4th ed. Washington, DC: CQ Press, 2004. A corrective to misconceptions about government bureaucracies.
    • Heclo, Hugh. A Government of Strangers. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution, 1977. The classic guide to the relationship between political appointees and civil servants.
    • Hess, Stephen. The Government/Press Connection. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution, 1984. A penetrating, readable account of press operations in the bureaucracy, comparing four disparate agencies.
    • Light, Paul C. The True Size of Government. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution, 1999. An innovative look at how bureaucratic tasks grow even as the civil service stays small.
    • Wilson, James Q. Bureaucracy: What Government Agencies Do and Why They Do It. New York: Basic Books, 2000. An examination of the bureaucracy from “the bottom up” that synthesizes experiences from examples.

    Recommended Viewing

    • Apollo 13 (1995). A jeopardized NASA moon mission saved by bureaucratic ingenuity.
    • Catch-22 (1970). Joseph Heller’s classic tale of army bureaucracy gone awry.
    • A Certain Kind of Death (2003). A remarkable documentary showing the bureaucrats of the Los Angeles Coroner’s Office efficiently and effectively at work.
    • Dr. Strangelove (1964). The ultimate dark comedy: how a bureaucracy unravels after a demented general named Jack D. Ripper sends jets to drop nuclear bombs on the Soviet Union.
    • The Right Stuff (1983). An elegy for the passing of the era of the lone hero of the desert test pilot and its succession by politics-bedazzled and publicity-minded astronautics.
    • Top Gun (1986). Probably the most famous hit movie as military recruiting poster. Tom Cruise plays a wild-living American who settles down and grows up to be a navy pilot.
    • Welfare (1975). The great fly-on-the-wall documentarian Frederick Wiseman’s inspection of the welfare system and how it affects well-meaning civil servants and welfare recipients alike.
    • Well-Founded Fear (2000). A brilliantly revealing documentary showing how Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) officers interview people seeking political asylum to the United States and decide their fate.
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