American Government: Political Development and Institutional Change

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9780415881579: American Government: Political Development and Institutional Change

To gain a fuller understanding of American politics today, students need to learn how it has evolved, from its founding principles to its contemporary practices. Such a perspective is crucial for making sense of the strategic and ideological battles in twenty-first century American politics. Cal Jillson’s American Government: Political Development and Institutional Change fosters this understanding by providing insights into how institutions, avenues of participation, and policies have changed over time to produce today’s political environment in the United States. Going one step further, Jillson homes in on the critical question of how American democracy might work better, focusing in every chapter on reform and change into the future.

These revisions make the sixth edition better than ever:

  • New chapter opening vignettes emphasizing the Constitution and how it both structures political change and is continually reinterpreted
  • Separate chapters for civil liberties and civil rights, each subject receiving a fuller treatment than in previous editions
  • Updates throughout to reflect the 2010 midterm elections
  • Coverage of President Obama’s first two years in office

Along the way, several pedagogical features foster critical thinking and analysis:

  • 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, and focus question icons throughout the chapter flag relevant discussions.
  • 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, a proven method for better learning.
  • "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.
  • Time lines in every chapter give students an at-a-glance reference to important stages in political 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.

The companion website at www.routledge.com/textbooks/Jillson offers students useful study tools to master the book’s lessons, including practice quizzes, chapter summaries, flash cards, participation activities, interactive timelines, and links to further resources online. In addition, instructors have access to password-protected class prep and testing resources.

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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.

Review:

"I am excited about Jillson's new edition of American Government. This is the fresh approach that is so sorely needed in this field. With so many textbooks on American Government being very similar, this one stands out. I like the topic discussions, the layout, and the in-depth treatment of the subject. I look forward to being able to offer this book to my students in the near future."

--Steve Anthony, Georgia State University

"Cal Jillson's book is a standout in a very crowded and competitive field of American Government textbooks. The great strength of this work is the way the author balances history, theory, and contemporary political practice in a way that both engages and informs the reader. After reading American Government students will understand American politics in great depth and with quite some subtlety."

--Joseph Romance, Drew University

"With this textbook, Cal Jillson speaks directly to today's students, drawing on history to illuminate the workings of American politics. This is a rich, dense, nuanced approach to the study of American government. The book is a remarkable feat, a thorough overview of contemporary political behavior and institutions that demonstrates the value of the past for comprehending the present."

--Gerald Gamm, University of Rochester

"I rate this text very highly. Specifically, throughout the chapters Jillson integrates many of the political philosophical themes that he establishes in the beginning of the text. I do this as well in classroom lectures and discussions, so his text helps me to maintain various philosophical threads for purposes of classroom continuity and reflection. Jillson also writes at an intelligent level, yet his style is accessible. I appreciate this very much."

--John R. Pottenger, University of Alabama in Huntsville

"Cal Jillson has presented a traditional American government text with three additions that will enhance student learning and understanding of the content. Organizing the book by integrating the ‘Pro and Con’, ‘Let's Compare’, and the ‘Timelines’ helps students approach the content in meaningful ways. This strong content coverage in the text will also prepare students well for upper division course work."

--Terri Susan Fine, University of Central Florida

"I have adopted earlier editions of Cal Jillson's excellent American Government text, and this new sixth edition builds on the strengths of his approach while incorporating recent developments. Jillson's singular advantage is that he employs his rich understanding of historical development to explain to students how our government got to where it is now--with all its manifest strengths and weaknesses. I enthusiastically recommend this new edition."

--Roger H. Davidson, University of Maryland and University of California, Santa Barbara

"Many American Government textbooks are boring. This one is not. You will like this book, and your students will like it too."

--Anthony J. Nownes, University of Tennessee

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