Ginsberg, Benjamin 1947-

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Ginsberg, Benjamin 1947-


Born April 1, 1947, in Poking, Germany; immigrated to the United States, 1949, naturalized citizen, 1955; son of Herman (a businessman) and Anna (a homemaker) Ginsberg; married Sandra J. Brewer (a physician), December 15, 1968; children: Cynthia, Alexander. Education: University of Chicago, B.A., 1968, M.A., 1970, Ph.D., 1973. Religion: Jewish.


Home—Potomac, MD. Office—Department of Political Science, Johns Hopkins University, 341 Mergenthaler Hall, Baltimore, MD 21218. E-mail—[email protected]


Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, instructor, 1972-73, assistant professor, 1973-78, associate professor, 1978-83, professor of government, 1983-92, director of graduate studies, 1978-85, chair, Graduate Fellowship Board for the Social Sciences, 1978-81; Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, Berstein Professor of Political Science, 1992—, director, Center for the Study of American Government. University of Cincinnati, Taft Memorial Lecturer, 1991; University of Chicago, Exxon Foundation Lecturer, 1992; Kalamazoo College, Kalamazoo, MI, William Weber lecturer, 2005; public speaker on government and politics; guest on television and radio programs; consultant to Hansard Society for Parliamentary Government.


American Political Science Association.


Trustees' scholar, University of Chicago, 1964-68; NIMH fellow, University of Chicago, 1968-72; grant, U.S. Department of Justice's Bureau of Justice Statistics, 1983-84; Jonathan Meigs grantee, Cornell University, 1985; Kellogg Foundation grantee, 1987; George Owen Award for Outstanding Teaching and Service, Johns Hopkins University, 2000.


(With Theodore J. Lowi) Poliscide, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1976, 2nd edition, 1990.

The Consequences of Consent: Elections, Citizen Control, and Popular Acquiescence, Random House (New York, NY), 1982.

The Sibling Rivalry Monster, illustrated by Alice Muhlback, The Crossing Press (Trumansburg, NY), 1985.

(Editor, with Alan Stone, and contributor) Do Elections Matter?, M.E. Sharpe (Armonk, NY), 1986, 3rd edition, 1992.

The Captive Public: How Mass Opinion Promotes State Power, Basic Books (New York, NY), 1986.

(With Theodore J. Lowi) American Government: Freedom and Power, Norton (New York, NY), 1990, 6th edition, 2000.

(With Martin Shefter) Politics by Other Means: The Declining Importance of Elections in America, Basic Books (New York, NY), 1990, revised edition, 1999.

(With Theodore J. Lowi and Alice Hearst) American Government: Readings and Cases, Norton (New York, NY), 1992, 2nd edition, 1994.

The Fatal Embrace: Jews and the State, University of Chicago Press (Chicago, IL), 1993.

Democrats Return to Power: Politics and Policy in the Clinton Era, Norton (New York, NY), 1994.

(With Theodore J. Lowi) Embattled Democracy: Politics and Policy in the Clinton Era, Norton (New York, NY), 1995.

(With Theodore J. Lowi and Margaret Weir) We the People: An Introduction to American Politics, Norton (New York, NY), 1997, 6th edition, 2007.

(With others) Politics by Other Means: Politicians, Prosecutors, and the Press from Watergate to Whitewater, Norton (New York, NY), 1999.

(With others) Electoral Deadlock: Politics and Policy in the Clinton Era, Norton (New York, NY), 1999.

(With Matthew A. Crenson) Downsizing Democracy: How America Sidelined Its Citizens and Privatized Its Public, Johns Hopkins University Press (Baltimore, MD), 2002.

(With Theodore J. Lowi and Kenneth Shepsle) American Government: Power and Purpose, 7th edition, Norton (New York, NY), 2002, 10th edition, 2008.

Making Government Manageable: Executive Organization and Management in the Twenty-first Century, Johns Hopkins University Press (Baltimore, MD), 2004.

(With Matthew A. Crenson) Presidential Power: Unchecked and Unbalanced, Norton (New York, NY), 2007.

The American Lie: Government by the People and Other Political Fables, Paradigm Publishers (Boulder, CO), 2007.

A Guide to the United States Constitution, Norton (New York, NY), 2008.

Contributor to Nationalizing Government, edited by Theodore J. Lowi and Alan Stone, Russell Sage (New York, NY), 1978; Parties and Elections, edited by Jeff Fishel, Indiana University Press (Bloomington, IN), 1978; The Political Economy: Readings in the Politics and Economics of American Public Policy, edited by Thomas Ferguson and Joel Rogers, M.E. Sharpe (Armonk, NY), 1984; The Elections of 1984, edited by Michael Nelson, Congressional Quarterly (Washington, DC), 1985; and The Presidency and the Political System, 2nd edition, edited by Michael Nelson, Congressional Quarterly, 1987. Contributor of articles and reviews to political science journals.


Benjamin Ginsberg was born April 1, 1947, in Poking, Germany. He immigrated to the United States with his family in 1949 and became a naturalized citizen in 1955. He has taught government and political studies at Cornell University and at Johns Hopkins University and has served as a guest or visiting lecturer at several additional institutions of higher learning. Ginsberg's extensive knowledge of the structure of the United States government, the presidency, and democracy have resulted in his serving as a guest commentator for a number of political news programs. He has also written several books on U.S. politics and government.

We the People: An Introduction to American Politics, which Ginsberg cowrote with Theodore J. Lowi and Margaret Weir, serves as a primer for anyone interested in the American political process and includes an explanation as to why it is important to be interested. The book explains basic rules of government, the role of American politics in the global political arena, and how every American citizen is ultimately affected by political decisions. His later effort, Downsizing Democracy: How America Sidelined Its Citizens and Privatized Its Public, written with Matthew A. Crenson, is a far more complicated text, calling for a return to the old-fashioned ideals of democracy and a letting go of more corporate-inspired ways of running the country. However, rather than scolding citizens for their lack of political awareness, the volume claims that the government itself is behind the problem. Palma J. Strand, reviewing the book for the Nation, praised the premise but noted: "Antidemocratic innovations may be interwoven with inadequate political access for the full range of citizens. In this regard, as in others, we should view Crenson and Ginsberg's work as exploratory rather than comprehensive." Independent Review contributor Robert Heineman concluded: "By documenting the evolving disregard for citizen judgment and influence in national policy circles, this book confirms that the creeping sense of political impotence spreading across the United States is not without foundation."

Ginsberg remains a proponent of standing up for democracy in additional books, as well. Presidential Power: Unchecked and Unbalanced, again written with Crenson, addresses the ways in which the weakening of democracy in favor of corporate bureaucracy has led to a strengthening of the presidential role in the government. A contributor for Kirkus Reviews called the book "a comprehensive, judicious and even alarming view of a constitutional crisis." Ginsberg's theme continues in The American Lie: Government by the People and Other Political Fables, reiterating many of his earlier points about the way external influences continue to alter and shape the roles of the president and the government as a whole. Library Journal reviewer Elizabeth White found the book less convincing than some of his other works, stating: "Little is offered, however, to guide the reader in reforming the wrongs so engagingly revealed."



Independent Review, summer, 2004, Robert Heineman, review of Downsizing Democracy: How America Sidelined Its Citizens and Privatized Its Public, p. 141.

Kirkus Reviews, February 1, 2007, review of Presidential Power: Unchecked and Unbalanced, p. 109.

Library Journal, August 1, 2007, Elizabeth White, review of The American Lie: Government by the People and Other Political Fables, p. 103.

Nation, February 10, 2003, Palma J. Strand, "Forced to Bowl Alone?," p. 25.