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American Government
Stories of a Nation, Brief Edition

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January 2018 | 600 pages | CQ Press

 

“The Brief edition of American Government: Stories of a Nation outlines the crucial areas and helps guide students along to what they should know… I am confident this approach is what students are looking for.”

—Frank Fuller, Chestnut Hill College

 

American government is not just one story—it’s many stories. Our stories. And they are still being told.

 

In American Government: Stories of a Nation, author Scott Abernathy tunes in to the voices of America’s people, showing how diverse ideas throughout our nation’s history have shaped our political institutions, our identities, the way we participate and behave, the laws we live by, and the challenges we face. His storytelling approach brings the core concepts of government to life, making them meaningful and memorable, and allowing all students to see themselves reflected in the pages. For the new Brief Edition, Abernathy has carefully condensed and updated the content from the Full version, giving your students the information they need--and the stories they relate to--in a more concise, value-oriented package. Curious how storytelling can boost learning in your classroom? Read a free whitepaper that explains the research.

 

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Looking for the AP® Edition? Learn more about the brief text specifically tailored for the new AP® framework and exam.

 
Preface
 
Acknowledgments
 
About the Author
 
PART I: FOUNDATIONS
 
1. American Political Stories: Claiming Rights, Demanding to Be Heard
American Students Claim Their Rights

 
American Political Culture Is Built on a Set of Shared Ideas

 
Politics and Political Action Set the Stage for Revolution

 
The Structure of Institutions Affects How Citizens Participate

 
Conclusion: The American Experiment, Continued, and You Are Part of It

 
Chapter Review

 
 
2. The Constitution of the United States: A New Vision of Representative Government
James Madison Plans for a Republic That Will Last

 
The Confederal System Made Coordination between the States Difficult

 
Delegates Reach a Compromise at the Constitutional Convention

 
Delegates Worked Out Details of the New Government

 
Federalists and Anti-Federalists Fought over Ratification

 
Conclusion: The Motives of the Framers and the Effects of the Constitution Are Still Being Debated

 
Chapter Review

 
 
3. Federalism: The Changing Boundaries between the Nation and the States
The Fight for Access to Medical Marijuana Reveals Tensions between State and Federal Law

 
The Constitution Divides Power between the Nation and the States

 
The American Federal System Has Developed over Time

 
Modern American Federalism Remains Cooperative but Faces Challenges

 
Conclusion: The Evolution of American Federalism Continues

 
Chapter Review

 
 
4. Civil Liberties and Civil Rights: Building and Defending Fences
Americans Defend Their Right to Marriage Equality in a Test of Civil Liberties

 
Civil Liberties Limit Government Intrustion

 
The First Amendment Protects Religious Freedom

 
The First Amendment Protects Free Expression of Political Beliefs

 
The Second Amendment Today Applies to Personal Possession of Firearms

 
Criminal Rights Are Secured through Procedural Justice

 
The Ninth and Tenth Amendments Set Limits to Federal Power

 
Civil Rights Secure Americans’ Equality under Law

 
Securing Civil Rights for American Women

 
Conclusion: Fences Still under Construction

 
Chapter Review

 
 
PART II: POLITICAL BEHAVIOR AND MASS POLITICS
 
5. Public Opinion: How Are Americans’ Voices Measured, and Do They Matter?
Public Opinion May Be Moved by Important Events Like Ferguson

 
Public Opinion Is the Sum Total of Individual Beliefs and Attitudes

 
Public Opinion Is Transmitted and Measured in Several Ways

 
Political Attitudes Come from a Variety of Sources

 
Ferguson and the Effects of Public Opinion on Democratic Representation

 
Conclusion: The Meanings of Public Opinion

 
Chapter Review

 
 
6. The Media: Truth, Power, and American Democracy
A Foreign Government’s Efforts to Influence an Election through the Media Raises Questions about the Media’s Power

 
The Evolution of American Media Shows That Issues of Power and Trustworthiness Are Not New

 
Questions of Bias Challenge Americans’ Trust in the Media’s Objectivity

 
Media Ownership and Content Are Subject to Regulation

 
The Power of the Media to Affect the Public Is Tested

 
Conclusion: Navigating the News

 
Chapter Review

 
 
7. Parties, Elections, and Participation: The Insurgents versus the Establishment
Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump Shake Up the Field . . . and Conventional Wisdom about the Power of Parties

 
Parties Organize, Signal, and Promote Policy Agendas

 
American Political Parties Undergo Cycles of Change

 
Elections and Campaigns Have Many Moving Parts

 
Presidential and Congressional Elections: The Same but Different

 
Political Participation Takes Many Forms

 
Conclusion: The Fallout

 
Chapter Review

 
 
8. Interest Groups and Social Movements: Collective Action, Power, and Representation
A Housing Bubble Bursts . . . and Interest Groups Pop Out

 
Americans Face Challenges in Acting Collectively in a Representative Democracy

 
Occupy Wall Street Illustrates the Struggles, Successes, and Failures of Social Movements

 
Conclusion: Organizing for Change or to Prevent Change

 
Chapter Review

 
 
PART III: INSTITUTIONS
 
9. Congress: Representation, Organization, and Legislation
The Experience of Women in Congress Raises Issues of Representation

 
The Constitution Defines Congress’s Shape and Powers

 
Getting to Congress Involves Personal, Professional, Electoral, and Financial Factors

 
Congress Is Organized around Formal and Informal Rules

 
The Legislative Process Is Complex by Design

 
Members Represent Constitutents by How They Act and Who They Are

 
Conclusion: The Complexity of Representation

 
Chapter Review

 
 
10. The American Presidency: Individuals, Institutions, and Executive Power
The Killing of an American Citizen Tests the Limits of Presidential Powers

 
The Constitution Outlines the Powers of the American Presidency

 
The Powers of the Presidency Have Evolved over Time

 
Institutions and Other Informal Sources of Power Shape the Modern Executive Branch

 
Conclusion: The Paradox of Power

 
Chapter Review

 
 
11. The Federal Bureaucracy: Putting the Nation’s Laws into Effect
Hurricane Katrina Tests the Federal Bureaucracy

 
Theories of Bureaucratic Organization Focus on Rules, People, and Tasks

 
The Bureaucracy Has Developed in Response to Demands and Crises

 
A Functioning Bureaucracy Depends upon Effective Organization

 
The Bureaucracy Is Constrained by Oversight and Reform

 
Conclusion: Another Devastating Hurricane, Another Federal Response

 
Chapter Review

 
 
12. The Federal Judiciary: Politics, Power, and the “Least Dangerous” Branch
The “Trial” of Sonia Sotomayor Highlights the Complexity of Judicial Decision Making

 
The Constitution Casts the Judiciary as the Weakest Branch

 
The “Trial” of John Marshall Established the Principle of Judicial Review

 
The American Legal System Is Defined by Federalism

 
Judicial Review Raises Questions of Constitutional Interpretation and Judicial Decision Making

 
Conclusion: The “Trials” of Merrick Garland and Neil Gorsuch

 
Chapter Review

 
 
PART IV: POLICY
 
13. Public Policy: Promoting the General Welfare and Advancing Americans’ Interests
American Dreamers’ Futures Depend upon Whether a Policy Will Continue

 
Domestic Social Policies Safeguard Americans’ Welfare

 
Economic Policy Protects Americans’ Financial Prospects

 
Foreign Policy Advances Americans’ Interests Abroad

 
From Syria to North Texas: From War and Chaos to the Pursuit of the American Dream

 
Conclusion: America in Progress

 
Chapter Review

 
 
Appendices
Declaration of Independence

 
Articles of Confederation

 
Constitution of the United States

 
Federalist No. 10

 
Federalist No. 51

 
Political Party Affiliations in Congress and the Presidency, 1789–2017

 
Summary of Presidential Elections, 1789–2016

 
 
Glossary
 
Notes
 
Index

Supplements

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    “The Brief edition of American Government: Stories of a Nation outlines the crucial areas and helps guide students along to what they should know… I am confident this approach is what students are looking for.”

    Frank Fuller
    Chestnut Hill College

    “Abernathy’s text distinguishes itself through the combination of historical references and contemporary examples.”

    James Ronan
    Rowan University

    “One of the most readable texts I’ve read; good for non-majors who aren’t interested in tons of theory, but don’t want to be talked down to.”

    William Housel
    Northwestern Louisiana State University

    “Well written and timely… The stories feel natural, not strained or forced.”

    Thomas Baldino
    Wilkes University
    Key features

    KEY FEATURES:

    • Each chapter begins with a compelling story about real people that illuminates a central issue or problem the chapter will deal with, bringing those concepts to life. Abernathy picks up threads of those stories throughout the chapter, seamlessly integrating the narrative into the core content.
    • Learning objectives at the start of each chapter guide students through their studies and are tied to features throughout the chapter to ensure those objectives are met.
    • Chapter overviews in the opener of each chapter help students to focus on core content and make connections to the chapter narratives.
    • Bulleted reminders are placed at the start of each section, helping students easily identify which learning objectives are being addressed.  
    • Every section ends with a “What Have I Learned?” quiz that allows students to self-test on the content as they go.
    • “Telling Stories with Data” features in each chapter invite students to approach data as critical interpreters of their political world.
    • Chapter Reviews at the end of each chapter are tied to the learning objectives and keyed to each of the major sections, distilling key points students will need to remember and glossary terms to be sure to understand.
    • Appendices include the Articles of Confederation, the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, Federalist Nos. 10 and 51, Part Affiliation in Congress and the Presidency, and a Summary of Presidential Elections.

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