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American Government & Politics: A Wealth of…
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American Government & Politics: A Wealth of Information on National, State…

by Jay M. Shafritz

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It's not exactly a civic class in a box, but there would be worse places to start one.

To cover all of American politics requires articles on history, institutions, laws, and people. And they're all here. Political biographies include entries on all the American presidents, important Supreme Court justices such as John Marshall, and people who were simply Important Influences, such as Henry Clay and Alexander Hamilton.

Laws are represented by descriptions of Supreme Court cases, important sections of the Constitution such as the commerce clause, and laws such as the Pendleton Act of 1883 (reforming the Civil Service).

Government institutions such as the Pentagon have listings, as well as some noteworthy private organizations such as the National Urban League.

There are also many entries for common catch-phrases such as "clear it with Sidney," for getting approval of Franklin Roosevelt's ally Sidney Hillman, and the "duck test," for items that "look like a duck..."; there are also political terms such as "slush fund" and "gerrymandering" (including a cartoon of the original "Gerrymander") and "double jeopardy."

History is, I think, the weakest area of the book, but by looking up historical events and organizations such as the Emancipation Proclamation or the Hoover Commission of 1947-1949, you can get at least some idea of how the actions of the government influences the country.

If there is one drawback to this volume, it is that its one-volume scope and long list of entries means that all the entries are very short. You won't learn the full impact of the Commerce Clause (considered to be responsible for the largest share of federal legislation) from its six line entry, or learn the full significance of the checks and balances built into the Constitution in the entry on "separation of powers." One book simply can't describe American politics in its full complexity. But it really is a good starting place -- you can at least look up a term and decide whether it's worthy of further research. ( )
  waltzmn | Mar 2, 2014 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0064610217, Paperback)

A quick and easy reference for locating important facts, figures, and definitions relating to government and politics in the U.S..

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:59 -0400)

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