American Government: Political Development and Institutional Change, 7th Edition

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9780415537353: American Government: Political Development and Institutional Change, 7th Edition

History matters. America’s past is present in all aspects of the contemporary political system. Cal Jillson uses political development and the dynamics of change as a tool to help students understand how politics works now―and how institutions, participation, and policies have evolved over time to produce this political environment. Going one step further, Jillson helps students think critically about how American democracy might evolve further, focusing in every chapter on reform and further change.

These revisions make the Seventh Edition better than ever:

  • The latest details on all aspects of American politics, including the 2012 elections, keep students current
  • Coverage of Obama’s full first term and heightened polarization in Congress help students see the importance of institutional development
  • A renewed emphasis throughout on the importance of race, ethnicity, and gender in the development of American politics helps students understand the full picture of political participation.

In a streamlined presentation, Jillson delivers a concise and engaging narrative to help students understand the complexities and importance of American politics. Along the way, several pedagogical features foster critical thinking and analysis:

  • New! "Struggling towards Democracy" discussion questions to provoke both critical thinking and class discussion on the most relevant issues
  • "The Constitution Today" chapter opening vignettes illustrate the importance of conflicting views on constitutional principles
  • Key terms defined in the margins on the page where they appear help students study important concepts
  • Focus questions at the beginning of every chapter highlight the central learning objectives for students to look for, and marginal notes throughout the chapter indicate the relevant discussions for addressing these questions
  • Colorful figures and charts help students visualize important information
  • "Let’s Compare" boxes analyze how functions of government and political participation work in other countries.
  • "Pro & Con" boxes bring to life a central debate in each chapter, from questions over campaign finance, bias in the media, and the balance between the president and Congress in war making, to judicial activism and restraint, gay marriage, and equitable taxes.
  • Timelines in every chapter gives students an at-a-glance reference to important stages in historical development.
  • End-of-chapter summaries, suggested readings, and web resources help students master the material and guide them to further critical investigation of important concepts and topics.

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About the Author:

Cal Jillson is Professor in the Department of Political Science at Southern Methodist University. His recent books include Texas Politics: Governing the Lone Star State, Pursuing the American Dream: Opportunity and Exclusion Over Four Centuries, Pathways to Democracy: The Political Economy of Democratic Transitions, and The Dynamics of American Politics.


"If one is looking for a relatively compact, yet historically grounded introductory American government text, one which delivers its information creatively and clearly, I am unaware of any work superior to Jillson’s."

―Russell Arben Fox, Friends University

"I’m looking forward to teaching with the new edition of American Government: Political Development and Institutional Change in the coming semesters. Jillson’s historically grounded explanations of the American political system are both nuanced and accessible, and the "Pro & Con" and "Let’s Compare" features offer natural springboards for class discussion. This book truly stands apart from the vast crowd of introductory American politics textbooks."

―Shamira M. Gelbman, Illinois State University

"In crafting a text on American government, the greatest difficulty lies in explaining the complexity of the American political system and at the same time making that explanation accessible. One must also balance the substance of American politics with a clear description of its processes. Cal Jillson accomplishes all of these things with extraordinary ease."

―Christopher Malone, Pace University

"Cal Jillson's text is a highly recommended source for any classroom that is concerned about content, consistency and accurate information. The ideals that Jillson so thoroughly includes in this text are straight down the middle and do not in any way cater to the right or left, which is a refreshing idea in today’s educational world. An A+ for government classes everywhere!"

―Drew Mowen, Ft Scott Community College

"Jillson's carefully crafted book helps students understand American politics at a deeper and more engaging level than other texts. Each clear, concise chapter weaves together the threads of American political growth into a thoughtful perspective on the nation’s urgent challenges."

―Dave Robertson, University of Missouri - St. Louis

"The textbook's thesis is that the American political system is best understood when viewed through the lens of institutions, and how and why those institutions have evolved over time. In my mind, this is the most important way to understand American politics. Students will gain a much more substantive understanding of American politics from this book than they would from nearly any other textbook on the market today."

―Quentin Kidd, Christopher Newport University

"Like other scholars, I have searched and searched for the best American Government text. I adopted Jillson's American Government: Political Development and Institutional Change because of its in-depth coverage of political history, Supreme Court cases, and basic facts. I particularly like the first three chapters of the seventh edition, on political principles, the Constitution, and federalism, which Jillson takes as seriously as the more core chapters on Congress, the presidency, and the courts. I assign his text to honors students, but any undergraduate would find it easily accessible. It is a great book."

―Keith Dougherty, University of Georgia

"Cal Jillson deploys an historical development narrative while still organizing according to the major institutions and processes that are broadly accepted in political science. The result is a book that connects the political challenges of today to the political conflicts of the past. Students can see not only ways in which the political system has changed, but also how choices we make today will shape the setting for addressing problems to be faced in the future."

―Jonathan Chausovsky, SUNY Fredonia

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Jillson, Cal
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ISBN 10: 0415537355 ISBN 13: 9780415537353
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Jillson, Cal
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