The Strategy of Campaigning

Lessons from Ronald Reagan and Boris Yeltsin
Kiron K. Skinner, Serhiy Kudelia, Bruce Bueno de Mesquita, and Condoleezza Rice
Foreword by George P. Shultz

Explores the political careers of Ronald Reagan and Boris Yeltsin, who overcame defeat early in their political careers and rose to the highest elected offices in their respective countries


The Strategy of Campaigning explores the political careers of Ronald Reagan and Boris Yeltsin, two of the most galvanizing and often controversial political figures of our time. Both men overcame defeat early in their political careers and rose to the highest elected offices in their respective countries.

The authors demonstrate how and why Reagan and Yeltsin succeeded in their political aspirations, despite—or perhaps because of—their apparent "policy extremism": that is, their advocacy of policy positions far from the mainstream. The book analyzes the viability of policy extremism as a political strategy that enables candidates to forge new coalitions and outflank conventional political allegiances.

Kiron K. Skinner is Associate Professor of International Relations and Political Science at Carnegie Mellon University, a Research Fellow at the Hoover Institution, and a member of the Chief of Naval Operations Executive Panel and the National Security Education Board.

Serhiy Kudelia is Lecturer of Politics at Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, Ukraine and advisor to Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine.

Bruce Bueno de Mesquita is Julius Silver Professor and Director of the Alexander Hamilton Center for Political Economy at New York University and a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.

Condoleezza Rice is on a leave of absence from Stanford University, where she was a Professor of Political Science and a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution. She is currently serving as U.S. Secretary of State.

Praise / Awards

  • "I know of no other study which has so brilliantly examined campaign strategies of such importance across cultural divides. This book should be required reading for everyone who wants to understand modern political strategies in historic context."
    —Newt Gingrich, Former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives

  • "The Strategy of Campaigning is fascinating and important. As personalities, Ronald Reagan and Boris Yeltsin could hardly be more different; the political systems they transformed were also at opposite ends of the political spectrum. Nevertheless, the story of how each went about changing his political environment provides important insights into today's much altered political world."
    —Jack F. Matlock, Jr., U.S. Ambassador to the USSR, 1987–1991

  • "Losers in politics deserve our attention because some of them ultimately prevail as winners. This is a book about how losers become winners. It is analytical, historical, and strategic, and a first-rate read to boot."
    —Kenneth A. Shepsle, George Markham Professor of Government, Harvard University

  • "The lessons of how Reagan and Yeltsin transformed the world are so profound that they go beyond international affairs. Every leader—in business, innovation, politics, and life—should understand them. The campaigns of Reagan and Yeltsin were based on redefining the competition and the issues. This book, using new archival research, will fascinate not only historians but anyone interested in the lessons of leadership."
    —Walter Isaacson, President of the Aspen Institute and author of Einstein: His Life and Universe

  • "Kiron Skinner and her coauthors examine the political strategy and style of two of the principal political figures of their time, Ronald Reagan and Boris Yeltsin. For anyone who wishes to know more about this fascinating subject, as well as the broader domestic and international context in which Ronald Reagan and Boris Yeltsin worked, this scholarly book can be highly recommended regardless of the reader's own political preferences."
    —Tom Foley, Former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives

  • "The Strategy of Campaigning tells the stories of two historic political figures—Ronald Reagan and Boris Yeltsin—and the political transformations they led. Kiron Skinner and her colleagues draw on extensive historical research and interviews with those involved in American and Russian governments in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s to uncover how Reagan and Yeltsin changed the politics of their times. Both rose to power at unique moments but each also understood that to change politics they needed to break out of the confines of the normal rhetorical debate of punch and counter-punch over well-worn questions. This book is a great read, and it carries great lessons about political leadership that are as valuable today as ever."
    —Stephen Ansolabehere, Elting R. Morison Professor of Political Science, MIT

  • "Sandwiched between a stimulating theoretical chapter and a more pedestrian concluding one, the authors provide a series of campaign case studies of successes and failures involving Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and Boris Yeltsin. Most readers will be introduced to new concepts, such as "heresthetics," the strategic reframing of issues for maximum political benefit."
    Choice, S. E. Frantzich, United States Naval Academy

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Copyright © 2007, University of Michigan. All rights reserved.

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Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 356pp.
  • 2 figs..
Available for sale worldwide

  • Paper
  • 2008
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-03319-5

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  • $27.95 U.S.

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