American Government and Politics in the Information Age
Copyright Year: 2016
ISBN 13: 9781946135049
Publisher: University of Minnesota Libraries Publishing
Conditions of Use
The book is fairly comprehensive, almost to a fault. There's little complexity and often concepts and events are oversimplified to their most basic elements. It reads more like soundbites in places, which is probably very appropriate and... read more
The book is fairly comprehensive, almost to a fault. There's little complexity and often concepts and events are oversimplified to their most basic elements. It reads more like soundbites in places, which is probably very appropriate and accessible for undergraduate students or maybe even high school students. I would not use this textbook though to provide a comprehensive overview of American Government, public policy or politics for graduate level students.
A lot of information is oversimplified to the point where it isn't accurate, also some of the definitions, like "politics" are just flat out wrong. There is also some decidedly white-washing of particular historical events that does not consider race, class, or more complicated variables. For example, Shay's rebellion is reduced to a protest among poor farmer's and there's no hint of actual events involving indentured servants and slaves or the element of race and how this rebellion shaped racial codes and public policy afterwards.
It's noticeably dated at the Bush administration, which was over 3 administrations ago. Definitely needs to be updated. Some of the items are rather timeless since they are a part of American history but a more critical and diverse perspective of even the historical discussion is needed.
It's a very accessible, clear, and simple textbook, which I think will appeal to many students and professors alike.
The framework and terminology appears consistent and readers will know what to expect by the second chapter.
I do think there are parts of this textbook that will be more useful to some courses as excerpts than as a whole. I really like the discussion questions and excerpts within the chapters to highlight particular events and concepts, and I think professors will find these helpful to extract and assign.
It feels all over the place, and that's perhaps of the wide range of topics and subject matter that is covered. However, it's hard to pin down the "rhythm" of the textbook in terms of topic and structure. It's a bit unwieldy.
Very easy and accessible for readers.
I did not see any grammatical errors.
While it does make an effort to highlight issues pertaining to race and culture, it does read like it's coming from a predominantly White/Eurocentric perspective and reducing some significant events pertaining to different marginalized groups as footnotes or throwaway mentions. Some of the descriptions and discussions about historical events and processes neglects the perspective of different groups all together.
I think overall, this can be useful for those teaching an introductory or survey freshmen course, but not as a primary textbook or at least the sole textbook. There are several useful sections here that can be used in all American government, media, and public policy and politics courses, in conjunction with other readings.
The book provides an overview of American Government and Politics in a clear, accessible format. It has interesting supplemental materials, tables, pictures, etc. The additional theme of the Information Age and its impact on government and... read more
The book provides an overview of American Government and Politics in a clear, accessible format. It has interesting supplemental materials, tables, pictures, etc. The additional theme of the Information Age and its impact on government and politics is timely and relevant.
It appears to be accurate, thorough, and error-free. It did not appear to be biased.
Much of the content (founding documents, the political system, basic government structure) would not need updates. Since the book is from 2016, an update on politics, parties and elections would be great.
Prose is very accessible and clear. Provides definitions for key words in bold, in context. It would be nice if vocabulary words for each section were listed separately as well.
The book appears to be consistent in its presentation and format.
Simple table of contents provides easy access to chapters and subsections.
The book is organized in a clear and logical way. It offers Learning Objectives, Key Takeaways, Exercises, and References for each section. It also has supplemental links and recommendations for reading/viewing. The organization follows the flow of an introductory course in American Government/Civics.
No problems with interface or navigation. Charts and images clear and easy to view- not distracting at all.
No significant errors stood out.
Presented information in a culturally sensitive way.
I have been looking for a resource to give my students in Adult Basic Skills the general overview of information they need to be familiar with for the GED exam. This book would be a wonderful resource. It is comprehensive without being overwhelming, and is broken into easily manageable sections. While it's not an in-depth study, it is a great resource for becoming familiar with the basics and helping students build a solid foundation in the subject.
COMPREHENSIVENESS AND APPROPRIATENESS. I’ve got mixed feelings about the comprehensiveness and appropriateness of the contents of this book. At times I feel like cheering because of the frequent and at times prominent treatment of socialization... read more
COMPREHENSIVENESS AND APPROPRIATENESS. I’ve got mixed feelings about the comprehensiveness and appropriateness of the contents of this book. At times I feel like cheering because of the frequent and at times prominent treatment of socialization and media in the treatment of American national government; at other times I am disappointed as the text, having noted the important role of socialization in how Americans assess their political system, proceeds to act—quite obviously, even if unwittingly—as a socializing agent itself (for example, the stated goal of “civic education” on page xix—why should an academic text be aimed at that goal? Why not “just the facts,” so to speak?). Moreover, the lengthy and detailed chapter 2 on the U.S. Constitution, etc., seems unnecessarily long and detailed. Having said that, let me add that one of the outcomes of the powerful socialization of Americans about their political system is the “veneration” of the Constitution, with the text noting how media venerate the constitution (p. 38) in the context of an apt Peter Jennings story. But by devoting so much detailed attention to the Constitution, the text is promoting/encouraging the very “veneration” of which it seems skeptical on p. 38. Mind you, many, even most, American government textbooks engage in the sort of socialization/civic education notions that I am criticizing here. But that doesn’t, in my view, make it appropriate or desirable to do so. On p. 477 (in the Congress chapter), the term “Squeaker of the House” (reportedly applied to Speaker Nancy Pelosi) was unknown to me until reading this passage. Was it actually as prominently and frequently used (“a moniker that stuck with Pelosi throughout her tenure as Speaker”) as the text suggests? I doubt it, since I follow contemporary U.S. politics closely and do not recall ever hearing this “moniker” before. C
ACCURACY—Problematic in places, but I guess some errors are inevitable in a 700-page-plus textbook. (Aside: this textbook is TOO long for a one-semester introductory course. I imagine that incentives to keep a textbook to a reasonable length become weaker for on-line texts, but a shorter, more focused textbook would probably be better for students.) Here are some examples of inaccuracies or the like: (1) “Politics” is defined this way in the preface on p. xiv: “Politics is the process by which leaders are selected and policy decisions are made and executed.” Earlier on the same page, Lasswell’s famously titled book is cited. Lasswell’s book title conveys that politics is the process determining “who gets what, when, how.” I think that sticking with Lasswell’s notion would be preferable. (2) p. 48: They [the Framers] sought to change “democracy” to a “republic”? First, the oft-used “democracy” vs. “republic” terminological distinction in passages like this may well be ill-conceived, as no less a political science luminary than the late Robert A. Dahl has pointed out more than once in his scholarly writing. Second, the text seems to suggest that before the Constitution of 1787 the U.S. political system was a “democracy” and that the Constitution of 1787 was aimed at changing it to a “republic.” Ouch! (3) p. 59: the “separation of powers” notion—why perpetuate such a notion or use such a term when the late Richard Neustadt’s “separated institutions sharing powers” is much more accurate and instructive? (4) pp. 60-62: The Supreme Court’s “distinct power” is “judicial review”? Not only the Supreme Court can engage in judicial review. Virtually every state and federal court in the U.S. can. Moreover, what about the formal interpretation of statutes? Isn’t that a distinct power of the Supreme Court and other courts? (5) p. 62: Congress can amend the Constitution? Not by itself! (6) p. 63: “We the People” in the Constitution of 1787 rebukes the “We the States” mentality of the Articles of Confederation? Maybe so. But, more importantly, why not point out that “We the People” is a bold-faced “lie”? The vast bulk of adults residing in the U.S. in 1787-1788 had NO role in drafting or approving the Constitution. Yes, there were approval processes in the thirteen states, but those approval processes for the most part involved only white, property-owning males. So instead of emphasizing the “states” vs. “people” point, why not concentrate on what seems a far more important point: The Constitution of 1787’s first three words are a “lie”? (7) p. 501: A bill can become law without a president’s signature and without Congress overriding a president’s veto.
RELEVANCE: This text seems to have a good balance of “relevant” contemporary examples and accounts and more enduring observations about the operation of the American political system. With a publication date of 2016, the text cannot, of course, be expected to include the return of Nancy Pelosi to the Speakership of the House in 2019, nor the ascent of Donald Trump to the presidency in 2017. One noteworthy exception in this sphere of “relevance” is the treatment of congressional committees in Chapter 12. The centrality of committees in the operation of Congress had been declining for some time before 2016, and the textbook does not reflect that decline. Contrary to the second sentence on p. 485, Woodrow Wilson’s observation is far from true today.
CLARITY: Mostly good on this score, although there are occasional bloopers. Consider this sentence on p. 479: “The House minority leader is the party with the fewest members’ nominee for Speaker.”
CONSISTENCY: Yes, the textbook, true to its title, pays regular attention to media’s significant roles in the operation of the American political system, often with good effect. But on a few occasions the treatment of media’s role in a particular context seems a bit labored and unimaginative. More problematic is the way “socialization” is addressed. Early in the text, the significant role of socialization in the operation of the American political system is highlighted, as it should be. But that emphasis is not carried through the text consistently or well, and, as pointed out elsewhere in this review, the very text itself at times seems to become a socializing tool of its own, perhaps or even probably unwittingly.
MODULARITY: The textbook seems satisfactory in this regard. Maybe, just maybe, there are TOO MANY sub-titles in some chapters?
ORGANIZATION: The text seems mostly satisfactory in this respect. My one organizational suggestion is an important one, I think. I would put the valuable material appearing in the Preface in a new chapter 1, and move the treatment of media and their importance in the American political system to a new chapter 2.
INTERFACE: Yes, I didn’t encounter any problems.
GRAMMATICAL: The text seems quite good in this regard, indeed significantly better than most American government texts that I have read or used in an intro American government course that I was teaching. But let me call attention to two problems. First, see the p. 479 sentence I provide under “Clarity” above. Second, let me address a common shortcoming (at least in this reviewer’s view, and, to be sure, I may be somewhat of a grammar/style pedant). The text’s emphasis on the role of media is a good one, I think, and I am pleased that the authors recognize that “media” is a plural noun. BUT they are less sophisticated about use of the definite article “the” before “media.” In a nutshell, putting “the” before “media” means, in effect, “all the media.” If one wrote that “books are important in the education of all young people,” one would understand and presumably approve that phrasing. If one wrote “the books are important in the education of all young people,” the appearance of “the” before “books” would in most contexts be puzzling. After all, not ALL books are important in this regard. Regrettably, the authors of the text repeatedly use the definite article improperly (and confusingly) before “media,” but they are hardly alone in this shortcoming, alas.
CULTURAL: Essentially satisfactory in this regard, it seems to me. With the growing sensitivity about the use of traditional singular pronouns reflecting gender (“he,” “she,” “his,” “her”) after this book was published in 2016, the first paragraph on p. 479 struck me as somewhat odd. In that paragraph, the pronoun “she” is used in addressing the position House minority leader. Nancy Pelosi was House minority leader at that time (i.e., 2016), to be sure, but the paragraph in question is addressing the position without reference to the then-current occupant.
I have seen worse American government texts, and I have seen better ones. I think that, all in all, this textbook is "above-average," compared to those intro American textbooks with which I am familiar. (I would estimate that over the years I used or carefully examined at least 30 intro American government texts.) Another good thing about this textbook is that the attention paid to media in the operation of the American political system. This textbook takes media seriously and addresses media effectively and instructively much of the time. Less good, as already noted above, is the early recognition of the important role of socialization in the operation of the American political system, only to be followed by the presumably unwitting socializing--unwelcome and inappropriate socializing, in my mind--in the textbook itself. Finally, the textbook is too long.
The text itself is quite thorough and covers a multitude of subjects on American government and politics. It has a significant amount of information to the point that there is a large degree of depth on certain key concepts. One of its strengths... read more
The text itself is quite thorough and covers a multitude of subjects on American government and politics. It has a significant amount of information to the point that there is a large degree of depth on certain key concepts. One of its strengths is that it also outlines the relevant points at the end of each chapter, as well as displaying questions for critical reflection. I believe that, though there are a massive range of subjects to digest, it is fully appropriate for undergraduates at the college level taking introductory courses in American politics. It is quite fair and presents key arguments as well as outlining all the basics of any standard American government textbook.
The textbook itself remains reasonably accurate and illustrates the material from an objective viewpoint. The material seems easily comprehensible for undergraduates and does not get lost in the lingo of the particular field. Students today are looking for something simple and to the point, and this text seems to check off all of the important components of American government in general. It is hard for a government text to cover every single debate or point on politics, but at least this text presents itself well to the best of its ability while establishing a blueprint for what college students, nonmajor and majors alike in political science, should understand about American politics. Particularly noteworthy are the takeaway sections after each chapter that help students to bring together what they should be learning within a traditional undergraduate government course.
The text seems quite relevant and up to date on the latest debates in US politics of the last few years. What is also somewhat noteworthy is that the text presents the material from a point of view that current events are included, as well as pop culture references to help undergraduates connect learning outside of the classroom with what they are learning on a college campus. The text is also not disconnected from reality and seems to be grounded in language that many students can understand, traditional and nontraditional students alike. This is especially important because often when teaching undergraduates who have nontraditional backgrounds, they are looking for a very rudimentary way to understand the concepts; this text does a fairly good job of outlining key points in US government history as well as projecting accurately what the future holds for this field.
The text avoids using too much jargon that is only understood by elite academics or persons with a large amount of experience studying politics. The book is actually well thought out in terms of presentation and immediately helping students to get the main idea of an article or passage within the book. The side issues within the blue boxes, such as a section on the Iraq war (especially when discussing current events or key points in history), also help to give more clarity towards applying the chapter material to real-life situations that assist students with understanding how to put American government political theories to good use.
The text is very consistent and methodical in its approach to presentation of the material. The terminology is sufficient and appropriate for the undergraduate level to the point that each chapter will not go over the head of any beginning political science student. I would surmise that my students both past and future will be able to grasp these concepts quite easily. The textbook is also far from a jumbled mess and is easily understood within the context of American politics within today's Internet and technology age. I predict that this book can be presented at a number of small and larger colleges as appropriate reading material for many levels of students from all walks of life.
The text contains plentiful subheadings and sections that can be easily divided within a semester long government course. It is also easy for students to find topic headings for writing assignments, essays, and research papers without having to look through the entire text to get some idea of what they want to research. The writing is fluid and easy to follow without causing confusion. I am satisfied with the various chapter headings and the fact that the text seems to cover all of the important areas of politics in general with respect to American government and the information age.
The topics are clearly consistent and help the reader to figure out where he/she can temporarily halt reading one section and immediately being able to pick up the pace later on. The text is predictable enough to know what order one can learn about politics and information, the role of the media, and other topics within the information age without searching for an answer and having to go back repeatedly. Overall, there is less confusion in the layout on a level that is consistent with freshmen government and underclassmen government courses.
The text is presented easily with no visible problems with the text or outline visually as far as can be seen. The pictures make sense and match the articles to the degree that one is able to follow along without any problems. Students with special needs will also be able to follow the text easily, and enough visible cues are interspersed throughout the book to give readers of many learning styles the ability to follow along without problems.
No discernible errors can be found within the text as far as the eye can see. I also cannot find any glaring obviously mistakes from my recollection. The text has been edited quite well and includes some solid interactive links that assist students and complements the body of the text itself. I would assume that many levels of student abilities can be reached from the way that the text is written without being overly confusing for any reader.
The material is professionally written from an objective point of view that presents all sides fairly. I do not detect any particular political bias or opinion that is controversial within any chapters as far as I know. The text avoids being too sensationalized with any subject matter and simply reports and explains the popular, standard debates within American politics, along with technology issues with respect to the political system. I see no problems assigning this text to readers of any race, religion, ethnicity, and language group. In fact, I would applaud the author for the thoroughness of the material itself and the research put into it.
Nice job, overall, the text seems very concise and easy to follow. I would recommend any undergraduate student to pick up this text or at least for any professor to assign this on topics relating to American politics, technology, or the media and the study of politics overall.
There is no index or glossary provided. That is a definite weakness for a textbook that spans across 775 pages in a .pdf file. The book’s narrative thread of the mass media in the technology age shaping politics is unique but does not necessarily... read more
There is no index or glossary provided. That is a definite weakness for a textbook that spans across 775 pages in a .pdf file. The book’s narrative thread of the mass media in the technology age shaping politics is unique but does not necessarily help students gain a thorough background in American national government. The book’s initial chapter focuses on the mass media; is this for a mass media course or an introductory American government course? The disjointed presentation makes it difficult to answer this question. For instance, it isn’t necessary to get into the granular details of the 2011 Comcast merger with NBC Universal in the first chapter. This book feels like it is going through an identity crisis and tries to do too many things at once: provide a survey of American national government, chronicle changes in mass media and communication, and then analyze the role of mass media in the American political system. The mass media discussion can be devoted to about two chapters in the middle of textbook after the authors have provided a foundation of the major political events, people, and policy decisions that have shaped the development of the country. An incessant focus on the mass media that is not offering new insight within each chapter diverts the student’s attention away from important details on topics like civil rights, civil liberties, and public policy. The mass media discussion with these and other topics is a chore to read through, even if someone does have a genuine interest in the mass media.
Usage of terminology that no one uses with frequency. This makes one question whether other information disseminated is accurate. On page 30, the authors say many bloggers covering the same topic is known as a “blogswarm.” This terms yields only 96000 search results in Google, with the first being a definition of the term from UrbanDictionary.com, which is hardly the most scholarly of sources. Only 41 results in Google Scholar use the term “blogswarm.” Why are the authors wasting time by using and defining terms that are not in the general conversation when talking about either American national government or the mass media? The claim that this term is often used to describe the behavior in question is not accurate. Fact-checking the textbook on claims like this is a massive undertaking for such a lengthy volume.
The text includes dated references to programming/shows that are no longer on the air (e.g. Jon Stewart, Jay Leno, David Letterman, and Bill O’Reilly). There are entities named that have changed titles. For instance, the Clear Channel Communications mentioned in the book is now called iHeartMedia. Sirius and XM are mentioned as separate satellite radio entities when they have now merged into one service owned by Liberty Media at the time of this review. Although the authors wanted to frame the discussion in terms of American politics through the lens of mass media in the information age, it leads to dated references like these that students will not necessarily connect to. It will take a significant amount of time to not only update these references, but it will take a significant amount of effort to make this material resonate with students in a way that makes the content feel contemporary. A dated textbook on mass media in the information age tied to American government is not going to spark the interest of students to learn about the nuances of American political institutions and behavior.
Language can be clunky with words that are not accessible, as well as sentences that are too lengthy. Here is a sentence on page 750: "The president’s policymaking ability is buttressed by advantages in information gathering, public appeal, manipulation of intelligence, and the opposition’s struggle to mobilize public opinion." It is doubtful the word 'buttressed' is in the everyday vernacular of an undergraduate student. In addition, how would one know what is meant by phrases like "information gathering," "public appeal," and the "opposition?" Is the president's opposition always going to be the same? The phrasing of things is not particularly clear. The book is not written to the level of the audience. The learning objectives are poorly worded. Being able to answer various substantive questions are not learning objectives; the objectives should be reworded to feature action verbs that relate to the subject matter (e.g. summarize the different types of mass media). The learning objectives are not presented in a way that help the student understand the skills they can develop by reviewing the materials.
Not particularly. The work definitely feels like it is constructed by multiple authors with different substantive interests and writing styles.
The chapters are broken up into smaller modules, but the modules are not linked together with clear transitions. There does not seem to be a clear beginning, middle, and end with each chapter. Needs more structure.
Priorities are not in order. More time is spent discussing blogging than either the Continental Congress or the Articles of Confederation. What is the explanation for the lack of information about such crucial elements related to the founding of the republic? It is bizarre that there is an exercise question in section 2.1 asking students about the limitations of the Articles of Confederation when a paltry two sentences discuss the limitations of the Articles of Confederation in the body of this particular section. A student would have to read ahead into section 2.2 where a bit more about the Articles of Confederation is discussed to construct a more detailed answer for a question posed in section 2.1; the lack of organization is bewildering. The book presents advanced material way too early. The topics of framing and priming, concepts that would normally not even be discussed in extensive detail within the initial chapter of most upper division political behavior or public opinion texts, are inexplicably discussed at length in the initial chapter. How would students be able to understand sophisticated topics like priming and framing without providing the needed substantive background information? The first chapter learning objectives box in 1.1 says students will be able to answer the following question: “what are the main criticisms directed at the media industry?” A concern is that there is no specific portion within this section of the chapter on said objective. A more efficient presentation of material would include a focused section directly on this topic within the 1.1 module. This lack of direct connection between topics in the learning objectives and topics in the body of particular chapter sections is observable throughout the book.
Images can be very small. Even when clicking on the pictures to enlarge them, the text within graphics and charts can be a bit hard to read. The lack of meaningful descriptive text for some of the diagrams raises concerns about whether the text is accessible to those that are visually impaired. Text under pictures that serve as captions are much too small, even when zoomed in. Keyword terms in the .pdf file should be in bold or use some alternative means to designate their importance/significance. Some pictures do not even have a caption or descriptive text, such as on pg. 213 of the .pdf file. Footnotes can be way too lengthy; see pg. 49 as an example. Is an undergraduate student really going to read a footnote that long?
Grammatical issues are not readily apparent. That is perhaps the one positive aspect of note.
The section on Native American reservations on pg. 82, the first where Native Americans are discussed at length, features a picture of slot machines in a casino run by a Native American reservation. That seems to be in poor taste, to put it mildly. Latinos and Asian Americans are not discussed at length. There is some analysis of LGBTQ individuals, but I'm not sure if headings like "Lesbians and Gay Men" or "Gay Movements Emerge" are particularly useful or tactful.
This is a poorly constructed textbook that would be an abysmal introductory text on American national government.
This text is too comprehensive - at 685 pages, it's a lot of information but there's no index or glossary, and just by flipping through the book I wouldn't know how it's organized or what the main focus is (aside from the title, which I'll say... read more
This text is too comprehensive - at 685 pages, it's a lot of information but there's no index or glossary, and just by flipping through the book I wouldn't know how it's organized or what the main focus is (aside from the title, which I'll say more about later).
The book is accurate and clearly has support from big-deal scholars (per the acknowledgements section), which gives it a lot of authority and legitimacy. The content I looked at is accurate and neutral and the information is up-to-date.
The book's longevity and relevance are helped by the fact that the authors include material from many eras of politics. Most of the chapters would not need much updating, and those that would need updating (such as campaigns and elections and political culture) should be straightforward to update.
On many pages, it would be hard for a student to determine what information they need to know. For example, page 88 lists several aspects of federalism, but there is no context for understanding or considering the importance of each term. There are lots of pages with the same issue: lists of terms but no context. Key terms/concepts are not highlighted or listed at the end of each chapter, and the reviews at the end of each section are too brief. The takeaways at the end of each chapter are interesting but are not useful for exam studying or for further study. The layout of each chapter makes it less clear because there are too many "chunks" of information with little flow. I much prefer the organization of information on page 110, where a table of Supreme Court cases on federalism is listed and explained. Very straightforward and useful.
I love the idea of a political science text that includes the role of media. However, despite the title, I do not see enough consistency or follow-through on the idea of politics in the information age. I'm not sure what type of course this book is geared toward - a politics course that touches on media? A media course that focuses on politics? I don't get a sense of the appropriate audience for this book, and I don't see enough justification for trying to include media throughout (plus it creates more confusing chunks of information).
The division of chapters into sections is useful because I could assign one part of a chapter instead of the whole thing.
The chapter organization makes sense, but as I mentioned earlier, the content does not flow because each chapter has so many chunks.
Everything looks great as far as images and tables are concerned - they're utilized well.
I did not see any issues with grammar, and I get the impression from the acknowledgements section that this book has been carefully edited for grammatical errors. The writing is excellent.
The book seems inclusive in its use of photos and examples.
There's a lot I like about this book, but I wouldn't know how to teach it (that is, how to create course material and exams from it) - it would take a lot of time. And I'm not sure what course/level I'd use this book for - it's way too long for an intro course, but the content is not specific enough for an upper-level course. I really like the exercises that focus on civic education, and I would like to see more of that - more on information literacy, research, and problem-solving. That would give the book better focus and purpose. A book that incorporates the information age should also include a lot of guidance on information literacy and critical thinking. This book would be well-suited for that.
The book is not an in-depth study. It provides an overview of the topics outlined in the chapters in its table of contents. read more
The book is not an in-depth study. It provides an overview of the topics outlined in the chapters in its table of contents.
American Government and Politics offers information and perspectives that synthesize ideas and information from media studies, sociology, history, and civics. The textbook has a point of view but it appears to be error-free and unbiased.
The textbook will remain relevant. Useful updates will include information about recent and current presidencies and their impact on policy as well as their relationship with the media. The textbook is more up-to-date than most textbooks of this type.
The text is written in lucid, accessible prose that is at the appropriate level for my Adult Basics Skills GED students. Definitions of terms are provided in context.
The book is internally consistent. It offers Learning Objectives, Key Takeaways, Exercises, and References. In addition, some chapters also offer Links web links), Civics Education boxes,Enduring Images, Recommended Readings, and Recommended Viewings (movies).
The text is already broken into easily readable modules.
The topics in the book are presented in a logical, clear fashion.
There do not appear to be any interface issues.
The book does not appear to have grammatical errors.
The text appears sensitive to issues of social justice and racial equity. For example, the chapters on Civil Liberties and Civil Rights discusses the civil rights challenges faced by African Americans, Latinos, Asian Americans, Native Americans, Americans with Disabilities, lesbians, and gay men, among others.
American Government and Politics in the Information Age looks critically at the intersection of mass media, politics, civics and history. The learning objectives that start each chapter present essential questions that can also be used as critical thinking and writing prompts for students. The additional resources in the book, such as links, recommended readings, recommended viewings, as well as the civic education component, provide ample material for extension activities and research projects.
The book is comprehensive in its intended content. The presence of links and sidebars provides a wealth of additional information that would be helpful to students. A list of sources cited is included at the end of each chapter. There is no index... read more
The book is comprehensive in its intended content. The presence of links and sidebars provides a wealth of additional information that would be helpful to students. A list of sources cited is included at the end of each chapter. There is no index included at the end of the book, or an independent glossary of key terms.
The content is accurate and error-free. The author does not exhibit a bias. However, an issue in using this text with students is that many are already pre-disposed to find bias in the media, or reasons for lacking trust in information received through media sources. While it is important for students to understand how media shapes political information, it is equally important to understand that there is also much reliable information available, as well as the need to sort between more legitimate and less legitimate sources. Not enough attention is devoted to this matter in the text. My concern in using this book is that students may conclude that all media information is equally unreliable.
Updates could be implemented in a relatively easy and straightforward way.
The text is very lucid, accessible, and jargon free. It is also well-written in that it is interesting and compelling.
The text is very consistent in terminology and framework.
The books is easily and readily divisible into smaller units.
The book is logical and well organized for its intended comment. An improvement would be to include more information in the first chapter on how to differentiate between more legitimate and less legitimate media sources.
The text is free of navigation problems. There is no distortion of images and charts.
The text contains no discernible grammatical errors.
The book is not culturally offensive. However, it gives much more attention to African American history and issues in government and politics than other racial/ethnic groups. There is a specific section for African Americans and other groups are listed under "other." While African Americans make up approx. 12% of the US population, the Hispanic population is 17%, and Asian is nearly 6%. These numbers are significant enough that the latter two should not just be listed under "other." Both groups have had significant impact on the history of our country.
This textbook covers all the traditional topics and areas of United States politics and government. Containing seventeen chapters and over 700 pages, it presents a thorough understanding of complex political institutions and issues. It also has a... read more
This textbook covers all the traditional topics and areas of United States politics and government. Containing seventeen chapters and over 700 pages, it presents a thorough understanding of complex political institutions and issues. It also has a nice current theme with interacting the influence of social media and modern technology in each chapter.
The book is accurate and error free; it presents a well rounded look at political ideology, issues, and controversial topics. The text reads in a balanced approach between liberal and conservative viewpoints.
With any United States Government textbook, being "up to date" and relevant is a continuing problem. Published in 2011, it obviously is lacking in information on the 2012 and 2014 elections. Not sure how "Open Textbooks" can be updated; but 95% of the material is still applicable and current. The history of the Supreme Court for the last five years is also not presented, but those can easily be accessed online. The text does link the reader to excellent Supreme Court sites.
Interesting, well written, great examples, and relevant material, this product makes for a solid textbook. Interesting links to online information is also top notch. The endnotes and recommended readings/videos are also helpful. Nice hyperlinks to videos are listed at the end of each section.
Chapter concepts are presented on a standard basis. Well laid out and consistent, the "Learning Objectives", "Key Takeaways", and "Exercises" are solid.
Though a bit difficult to navigate (where is the table of content and links to each chapter?), scanning through the pages is easy, though rather slow and inefficient in time.
The text offers a nice presentation of materials in a logical order; it follows the standard textbook for topic development. Chapter One does seem out of place, as it is a rather dull opening of the influence of technology on the modern political setting.
There is a need for more pictures, charts, and graphics, though the ones presented looked top quality and easy to read. . The interface is difficult to navigate, as there is no table of content or index. Students will need to do some searching to quickly find topics they are interested in exploring.
No errors noted in my reading of the textbook. I conducted a "Document Readability" analysis of the text; the results came back between an "11.6 to 13.5" readability level.
Well rounded on the discussion of contemporary cultural issues. Chapters Five and Eight offer updated information on current issues (as of 2011, at least).
Improve the interface a bit more, and this would be an excellent open text alternative for United States Government and Politics courses. The price is right and the easy access to the student makes this a strong possibility that I will incorporate the text into my classroom next term.
This text covers all of the major subjects/areas that are typically included in an introductory-level textbook on American government and politics. It also provides a number of additional features -- for instance, its "civic education" sidebars... read more
This text covers all of the major subjects/areas that are typically included in an introductory-level textbook on American government and politics. It also provides a number of additional features -- for instance, its "civic education" sidebars that encourage students to get involved in politics -- that add to its appeal. There are two major drawbacks with respect to its comprehensiveness: (1) it does not have a detailed index or table of contents; and (2) its discussions of topics are quite dated in numerous places. (I will discuss this in more detail below.)
The book is grounded firmly in objective evidence and offers an account/interpretation of American government and politics that fits well within the 'mainstream' of political science. Instructors who use this text can feel confident that their students are being provided with a relatively unbiased and fact-rich survey of American national politics.
As a classroom instructor, I would have significant concerns about using this text without significant updating. Both the basic organization of the text and its coverage of theoretical/historical topics are solid. Yet in numerous places, the text's age clearly shows. For instance, the discussion of media on pp. 31-32 focused on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and the Colbert Report -- two shows that are no longer on the air (at least in the same form). Likewise, the discussion on pp. 181-182 of same-sex marriage ends with now-outdated speculation that the U.S. Supreme Court might soon take up the issue. In the same vein, Chapter 11 discusses presidential elections with a focus on 2004 and 2008; its discussion of Congress likewise refers (erroneously at this point) to Harry Reid as the Senate Majority Leader and Eric Cantor as the House Majority Leader. Overall, the narrative is so dated in this respect that students will likely question its authoritativeness in 2016. Yet the good news is this: an update, it seems to me, would be quite easy to do -- since the underlying narrative structure and theoretical/empirical grounding is so sound. Or: an instructor, attracted to the text for its appeal in other respects, could essentially do the updating in class via lecture or other means.
The prose is quite accessible to students and steers clear of technical jargon or impenetrable terminology. The authors here have managed to cover even the most complex topics in ways that make it understandable and interesting for the student.
The text uses terminology in a consistent manner and fits its various topics/discusssions nicely into a broader theoretical framework that is explained at the outset.
This text is quite impressive on this score. In teaching survey courses on American government/politics, individual instructors vary widely from one another in their choices of how to order the presentation of topics in relation to one another. This text -- like most other introductory-level texts -- accommodates this exercise of instructor choice quite well. Each chapter stands largely independent of the others; thus, instructors can assign them in different orders without undermining student learning.
The text is organized in a clear and logical way. Indeed, its basic organization -- beginning with the history and structure of the U.S. Constitution and then proceeding in turn to 'inputs' into the political system, its connecting institutions and finally the major institutions of government -- follows the basic template found in most similar texts.
The interface is basically fine. One shortcoming is related to the 'datedness' of the text that I referenced above. Some of the links to websites and external videos are out-of-date. (For instance, the discussion of Eric Cantor as House Majority Leader includes a link to the Majority Leader's website -- which at this point does not take the reader to anything about Cantor specifically.)
I found no grammatical errors.
Generally speaking, the book is okay on this score. One area in which updating of terminology would strengthen the text is in its discussion of LGBTQ rights.
Overall, this is a very good text that provides students with a thorough, unbiased and accessible survey of American government and politics. At this point, though, it is dated in several respects; thus, if an instructor chooses to use the text in a course, that instructor will likely need to provide updating by way of lecture, additional readings, etc.
This text has no clear index or table of contents. It does a chapter by chapter break down in the introduction however, there is no overall reference that aids in indicating topics and flow. There is not a glossary either since there are no... read more
This text has no clear index or table of contents. It does a chapter by chapter break down in the introduction however, there is no overall reference that aids in indicating topics and flow. There is not a glossary either since there are no highlighted terms within the text.
This text provides much factual historical and contemporary information surrounding American government. However, it does present the information from a slightly biased perspective. The reader receives the impression that the government has a negative impact on media. This information would be better presented explaining the impact of government on media in an unbiased way, informing students on the realities and allowing their own thought process on how to perceive this. This text would benefit from a small introduction to "nation-building" so that the reader understands that we are enculturated into our national cultural system and this is how we learn our values and norms. (Ch 6.1) The section presenting multiculturalism is very well done.
The historical information is presented in a very palatable manner. However, the discussions of contemporary topics assume that all students have access to the same technologies (computer, internet, phones, social media, etc). It also assumes that students are all from an upper middle class American background, which would make it harder to relate to for many students. Some terminology used in the text would outdate quite quickly such as: "New Media".
There is a lot of assumed knowledge in this text. What level student is this aimed at? An introductory student would be quickly lost in many of the sections, especially without key terms listed. The preface/introduction seems to only be directed at a professor. Is there a different student version? Each section needs an introduction to the topic for students to understand the context for presenting that particular information in this book. Highlighting key terms would be very helpful for students. Chapters 6.2 and 7.4 did a good job of having a clear introduction and presentation of information tying in the core concepts of the entire text.
The text introduces different types of media but does not connect it to the material and main ideas being presented. Conclusions on most chapters are consistent and do a good job of tying in ideas. Chapter1.3 is confusing placement, should appear later in the text after Media Influences on Politics has been presented. The text seems to jump around topics: communication to government descriptions to media without relating why it is presenting the different information. There are different cultural terms used throughout the text that are not consistent: ie. Black or African American. The section headings seemed to be consistent as well as the end of chapter recaps.
The text is broken down into smaller sections well but needs clearer labeling. Introductions to the chapters that explain how that topic is relatable to the entire text would aid in its modularity. Having a table of contents would clarify the possible modulation of the text.
A table of contents would be very helpful. The learning objectives at the beginnings of chapters are nice. There need to be clear introductions and topic tie ins for each chapter and section. The "enduring images" sections are great but they need to be clearly highlighted or separated. Chapter 2.1 would be clearer if presented at the start of the text. The text jumps back and forth between topics without explaining the reason. Chapters 12, 13, 14, 15 seem to fit better in the beginning of the text. And the section that do a basic explanation of how government functions should all be presented together instead of dispersing them throughout the text.
The images in the text are all distorted. The "Preamble" sections headings are confusing for students. A table of contents is needed. "Comparing Content" sections should be clarified that it is a separate section.
There are spaces missing on pages: 1, 9, 146. Throughout the text the subsections have different size fonts that are not clear if they are subsections or just error in production of text.
It would be beneficial to check in on terms for different cultural or "racial" groups that are presented in the text. This book is presented from an assumed "white reader" perspective. The preface assumes the student is stereotypically American white upper middle class and has access to all technologies and experiences associated with that. The comparing content boxes are nice. Presents discussions of "white" vs. "black" in history and government but there are so many other cultural and "racial" groups in the US history. There is too much assumed knowledge of the reader that an introductory student would not have (liberals vs. conservatives discussion p. 15).
Overall, I think the text is a nice concept but needs clearer organization. The information presented needs to flow better and explain why all of the chapters are being presented in the same text book.
Yes, the text covers all the traditional areas of an American government textbook, plus adds an interesting theme on information transmission in society (which is unique). I did not see an index or glossary--however, a student could nonetheless do... read more
Yes, the text covers all the traditional areas of an American government textbook, plus adds an interesting theme on information transmission in society (which is unique). I did not see an index or glossary--however, a student could nonetheless do a word search of the book in pdf form to find what they needed. The book also lacked a table of contents.
While everything that is presented is accurate, there are choices that authors make in a text that can affect how a book is perceived. In this case, the book comes across a bit toward the liberal side of the political spectrum in the use of examples of government action that worked or did not work. Contrast examples from Democratic administrations earlier in the book to the less optimistic coverage of foreign policy during the George W. Bush years.
I think the book is very relevant for a class on American politics. In terms of longevity, some of the content can last for a long time (e.g. the portions on the founding), but the text does seem to be a couple of years old. For example, there have been changes in the Senate since that time and the policy issue examples would need to be updated.
The book is extremely clear and nicely presented from the standpoint of organization and prose.
The book is largely consistent across the chapters in the way it presents terminology and framework. The authors explain acronyms and definition wherever needed, which is good for the student. It would be nice to see additional discussion of civic education than just the occasional text box. One area that needs even more development would be discussion of voting turnout among youth voters and their views of politics. The authors need to better hammer home the importance of the students' own political engagement in the system.
Yes, the text works well in this regard.
I'm not crazy about a chapter at the front of the book before the discussion of the Founding. However, I would likely just skip that chapter until later in the semester.
As I mentioned above, there is no index, glossary or table of contents. Students would need to get used to word searches in the pdf document. As with many pdfs, the product on the screen is not as crisp as what a student might view in a physical book with nicer graphics.
Absolutely fine. These folks write well and the book reads like it was copyedited.
This is the strength of the book and its focus on information. The entire presentation is relevant, given the changing informational context in the US today.
I'm considering adopting this book for fall 2015, but would be more persuaded if the content were updated to reflect more recent cases of governance and to include the 2014 election and outcomes. I currently use AM GOV, which is updated regularly and has a nice focus on student civic engagement.
Table of Contents
- Chapter 1: Communication in the Information Age
- Chapter 2: The Constitution and the Structure of Government Power
- Chapter 3: Federalism
- Chapter 4: Civil Liberties
- Chapter 5: Civil Rights
- Chapter 6: Political Culture and Socialization
- Chapter 7: Public Opinion
- Chapter 8: Participation, Voting, and Social Movements
- Chapter 9: Interest Groups
- Chapter 10: Political Parties
- Chapter 11: Campaigns and Elections
- Chapter 12: Congress
- Chapter 13: The Presidency
- Chapter 14: The Bureaucracy
- Chapter 15: The Courts
- Chapter 16: Policymaking and Domestic Policies
- Chapter 17: Foreign and National Security Policies
About the Book
This text is a comprehensive introduction to the vital subject of American government and politics. Governments decide who gets what, when, how (See Harold D. Lasswell, Politics: Who Gets What, When, How, [New York: McGraw-Hill, 1936]); they make policies and pass laws that are binding on all a society's members; they decide about taxation and spending, benefits and costs, even life and death.
Governments possess power—the ability to gain compliance and to get people under their jurisdiction to obey them—and they may exercise their power by using the police and military to enforce their decisions. However, power need not involve the exercise of force or compulsion; people often obey because they think it is in their interest to do so, they have no reason to disobey, or they fear punishment. Above all, people obey their government because it has authority; its power is seen by people as rightfully held, as legitimate. People can grant their government legitimacy because they have been socialized to do so; because there are processes, such as elections, that enable them to choose and change their rulers; and because they believe that their governing institutions operate justly.
Politics is the process by which leaders are selected and policy decisions are made and executed. It involves people and groups, both inside and outside of government, engaged in deliberation and debate, disagreement and conflict, cooperation and consensus, and power struggles.
In covering American government and politics, our text introduces the intricacies of the Constitution, the complexities of federalism, the meanings of civil liberties, and the conflicts over civil rights;explains how people are socialized to politics, acquire and express opinions, and participate in political life; describes interest groups, political parties, and elections—the intermediaries that link people to government and politics; details the branches of government and how they operate; and shows how policies are made and affect people's lives.