Watson Institute at Brown University
Public Policy
James A. Morone

James A. Morone

+1 401 863 1573
59 Charlesfield Street


Downloadable CV

James A. Morone

John Hazen White Professor of Public Policy
Professor of Political Science and Urban Studies

Areas of Interest: Health care politics, politics and history, urban politics, religion and politics, race politics, democratic social movements.


James Morone is the John Hazen White Professor of Political Science and Public Policy and director of the the A. Alfred Taubman Center for American Politics and Policy. He grew up in Rio de Janeiro and New York, received his BA from Middlebury College and his PhD at the University of Chicago.

Morone has been a visiting professor at Yale University, the University of Chicago, and the University of Bremen, Germany. The Brown University classes of 1993, 1999, 2001, 2007, and 2008 voted him the Hazeltine Citation as the teacher that most inspired them. Morone has served as chair of the political science department and currently chairs the faculty executive committee, which is responsible for faculty governance at Brown.

Morone has written ten books and more than 150 articles, reviews, and essays on American political history, health care policy, and social issues. His first book, The Democratic Wish, was named a “notable book of 1991” by The New York Times and won the American Political Science Association’s Gladys M. Kammerer Award for the best book on US national policy. His Hellfire Nation: the Politics of Sin in American History was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize and named a top book of 2003 by numerous newspapers and magazines. His The Heart of Power: Health and Politics in the Oval Office (co-authored with David Blumenthal, MD) was featured on the cover of The New York Times Book Review. According to unreliable sources, President Obama was seen reading the book at Camp David. Morone’s most recent book, The Devils We Know, was published by University Press of Kansas in November 2014.


Health Care Politics and Policy

Morone’s research focuses on how current policy systems developed (Medicare, Medicaid, and the private insurance system) – the challenges they face and solutions that might work – with a special emphasis on social justice and health care. For example, The Heart of Power examines presidential archives to examine how presidents (from Franklin Roosevelt to George Bush) dealt with health reform and the lessons that can be drawn from their experience.

The Historical Foundations of Contemporary Politics

Morone’s Hellfire Nation examines the puritan legacy from 1630 to modern times in order to illuminate how morality shapes contemporary political debates and policies. His book, The Democratic Wish traces popular movements from the American Revolution to the present day to explain how populism affects American politics and policy.

American Cultural Studies

How do the stories we tell about ourselves (a classic definition of culture) affect politics and policy? Examples include essays on Mark Twain, John Stuart Mill, Harry Potter and the question of culture itself – all included in Morone’s book, The Devils We Know.


City Politics

This course puts American urban politics in historical perspective. The course shows how decisions are made in American cities with a special emphasis on how historical legacies (most notably, the powerful urban machines) still influence contemporary politics and policy.

American Culture and the City

A seminar that follows up City Politics with an exploration of the cultural understandings that help shape our politics. How do Americans think about politics? How do they build an understanding of their nation, the American dream, race, class, gender, us and them?

Preparing the Prospectus I, Preparing the Prospectus II

This two-part course covers selected topics in research design and methodology and is designed to help students enrolled in the Political Science PhD program to write and defend a prospectus in their third year of study.

Pro seminar in American Politics

This course is designed to explore the field of American politics, help students develop an area of expertise within the field, and prepare them define an area of inquiry in which to write a conference paper. The field of American politics, at its best, captures all the excitement of American politics. It acknowledges its debt to comparative politics (this is, after all, a single nation case) to political theory (Americans chronically ask about the nature of their regime, about the role of ideas within it) to history (you can’t understand the case without it), and to methods (portions of this field are perhaps the most methods driven of any field in political science).

American Political Development

American political development arose in the early 1990s to answer the eternal question: why does American politics look like that? The assumption was simple: American politics today is profoundly shaped by the way the United States developed: The ideas, the culture, the institutions, the mass movements, the wars, the interests and the individuals (we usually forget that last) profoundly shaped where we are today. This course explores how.


The Devils We Know: Us and Them in America’s Raucous Political Culture. University Press of Kansas, 2014.

Political Culture: Conflict, Consensus, and War.” The Oxford Handbook of American Political Development, 2014. Robert Lieberman, Suzanne Mettler, Richard Valelly, eds.

Heart of Power: Health and Politics in the Oval Office. David Blumenthal and James Morone. University of California Press, 2009. Paperback with new preface, 2010. New York Times Book Review by Robert Reich.

The Lessons of Success, Revising The Medicare Story,” The New England Journal of Medicine. David Blumenthal and James Morone. 359: 22 (November 27, 2009): 2384- 9.

Hellfire Nation: The Politics of Sin in American History. Yale University Press, 2003.

The Politics of Obesity: Seven Steps to Government Action.” Rogan Kersh and James Morone. Health Affairs 20: 6 (December, 2002): 142-153.

The Democratic Wish: Popular Participation and the Limits of American Government. Basic Books, 1990; Yale University Press, revised edition, 1998.

Talks & Media

Morone comments frequently on political issues for shows including The News Hour with Jim Lehrer, CBS Sunday Morning with Charles Osgood, The BBC, Fox News, C-Span, NPR’s Market Place, Morning Edition, Science Friday, The Take Away, the Dan Yorke Show, among others. He has written multiple essays for London Review of Books, The American Prospect Magazine, and The New York Times.

Opinion and Commentary in The New York Times

Ex-Prosecutors Urge Voters Not to Bring a Felon Back as Providence’s Mayor,” by Jess Bidgood and Katharine Q. Seelye.  October 14, 2014.

Seven Consequences of the Health Care Ruling,” op-ed, June 28, 2012.

One Side to Every Story,” op-ed, February 16, 2009.

Waiting for Another L.B.J.,” op-ed with David Blumenthal, July 30, 2005.

James Morone’s Books Reviewed in The New York Times

Critical Care,” Sunday Book review of Heart of Power: Health and Politics in the Oval Office, by Robert B. Reich, September 1, 2009.

Visions of Vice and Virtue Rule a Nation's Heart,” review of Hellfire Nation by David J. Garrow.

Why Reform Never Works.” Review of The Democratic Wish by Alan Tonelson. December 23, 1990.

Contributions to London Review of Books

Whoopers and Shouters,” review of A Godly Hero: The Life of William Jennings Bryan by Michael Kazin, February 21, 2008.

El Casion Macabre,” review of  Wall Street: A Cultural History by Steve Fraser, June 21, 2007.

Good for Nothing,” review of Born Losers: A History of Failure in America by Scott Sandage, May 19, 2005.

Television and Radio

PBS NewsHour: “Will low online enrollments hobble the new health law?” November 14, 2013.

C-SPAN: “Book Discussion on the Heart of Power,” December 4, 2012.

CBS Sunday Morning: “Obama's Bill of Health,” March 21, 2010.

Obama ‘can get his reform through’, ” BBC Today, September 10, 2009.

NPR Marketplace:  “How presidents handled health care,” interview with Kai Ryssdal, July 30, 2009.

PBS NewsHour: “As Deadline Nears, Obama Steps Up Health Care Push,”, July 22, 2009.

PBS NewsHour :“Bipartisanship Put to Test in Light of Political Realities,” February 17, 2009.

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