Understanding American Politics and Government, Brief Edition

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9780205688609: Understanding American Politics and Government, Brief Edition

In an election year that has defied expectations, scuttled predictions, and demonstrated that “politics as usual” is often anything but, a distinctive new textbook publishes that helps students make sense of our politics and government.

 

This engaging new book’s unique approach emphasizes and explores causal questions in American politics.  It gives student critical thinking tools–tools pulled directly from a social scientist’s playbook–to start answering those questions, see past today’s headlines, and understand why things really happen in our political world.

 

This exciting new text is written in a clear, straightforward style brimming with rich, real world examples. It not only covers the fundamentals of American government and politics in a highly accessible, engaging fashion, but also arms students with the tools to separate political fact from fiction.  Using this book, students will develop the skills to see through the simplistic sound bites and partisan assertions they’re subjected to by the pundits and politicians.

 

Students reading this text will be fitted with armor against the partisan bickering and hyperbolic media coverage that causes so many of them to become cynical about politics.  They will come away from the text not only excited by political questions, but with the means to explore possible answers as more thoughtful, critical, and empowered citizens.

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From the Back Cover:

Features:

 

  • An Emphasis on Causality.  From the very first chapter the authors train students to distinguish between the concepts of “correlation” and “causation” as they examine political phenomena, helping turn them into good critical thinkers and more thoughtful citizens. 
  • “How Do We Know?”  In every chapter, this unique feature hooks students with a provocative, important political question related to that chapter’s topic and then schools them in the techniques political scientists use to answer it.  Each box provides context for – and underscores the importance of –  the question, highlights the means and challenges of answering it, and ends with a summary on what conclusions social scientists have reached.
  • Comparative Perspective.  Substantive comparative examples are seamlessly woven throughout the narrative of each chapter.  These revealing illustrations deepen students’ perspective by shedding light on our own system of government in the context of other countries.  Throughout, the examples help students see how governmental structures influence political outcomes and the choices of policymakers.
  • Political Culture Emphasis.  Chapter 2, “Political Culture,” sets the stage for the book’s emphasis on how Americans’ shared political culture—our prizing of  individualism, democracy, and liberty, respect for property, and religious rights—influences our politics and government.
  • Case Studies.  Integrated throughout, these high-interest, in-depth examples apply the ideas developed in the book to real world events, bringing abstract concepts to life and making them concrete.   Each Case Study concludes with “Thinking Critically” questions, helping students understand, apply, and synthesize key points.
  • Section Headings as Complete Sentences. Headings and subheadings throughout the text take the form of complete sentences, giving students a clear and complete snapshot of the concepts and key points about to be discussed.  Together, the headings form a précis that can also be used as a study and review tool. 
  • Study Assists.  Key terms are boldfaced and appear with definitions in the margin, allowing students to review important concepts with ease.  Key terms are also found at the end of each chapter and in the glossary.
  • Innovative, Tested Interior Design.  The clean, inviting interior design was developed and tested to accomplish two important goals: (1)  to engage today’s visually-oriented students; (2) to keep students’ attention trained on key concepts and themes without distracting them with excessive boxes or “bells-and-whistles”.  The most important ideas are easily located in the narrative and not relegated to – or obscured by – sidebars.
  • A full color photo and art program.  The text’s clean, open layout and colorful, evocative art and photo program have been carefully developed and tested to amplify student learning and enrich the their understanding of the written word on the page.
  • About the Author:

    John J. Coleman — The University of Wisconsin, Madison

    John J. Coleman is Chair of the political science department at The University of Wisconsin at Madison.  His teaching and research interests center on political party coalitions, factions, and organizations, and American political development. Professor Coleman is the author of Party Decline in America: Policy, Politics, and the Fiscal State (Princeton University Press, 1996) and numerous articles on political parties, elections, public knowledge, Congress and the presidency, and campaign finance. His current research includes projects on campaign spending, party accountability in elections, and the relationship between income distribution and voter turnout.

     

    Kenneth M Goldstein — The University of Wisconsin, Madison

    Ken Goldstein is a Professor of political science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Director of the University of Wisconsin Advertising Project.  He is the author of Interest Groups, Lobbying, and Participation in America (Cambridge University Press, 1999) and Campaign Advertising and American Democracy (Temple University Press, 2007) as well as over 30 journal articles and book chapters on political communication, voter turnout, campaign finance, survey methodology, Israeli politics, presidential elections, and news coverage of health issues.  Professor Goldstein is currently a consultant for the ABC News elections unit and a member of their election night decision team.  He has worked on network election night coverage in every U.S. federal election since 1988.

     

    William Howell — The Harris School, The University of Chicago

    William Howell is an Associate Professor at the Harris School of The University of Chicago.  Professor Howell has written widely on separation-of-powers issues and American political institutions, especially the presidency. Howell is the co-author (with Jon Pevehouse) of While Dangers Gather: Congressional Checks on Presidential War Powers (Princeton University Press, 2007); author of Power without Persuasion: The Politics of Direct Presidential Action (Princeton University Press, 2003); co-author (with Paul Peterson) of The Education Gap: Vouchers and Urban Schools (Brookings Institution Press, 2002); and editor of Besieged: School Boards and the Future of Education Politics (Brookings Institution Press, 2005).  His research also has appeared in numerous professional journals and edited volumes. His current research examines the impact of war on presidential policymaking.

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