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Book Details

  • Hardcover
  • Bookstore's Wholesale Price: $100.00
  • December 2010
  • ISBN: 978-0-393-93471-7
  • 674 pages
  • Territory Rights: Worldwide

American Politics Today

Full Second Edition


William T. Bianco (Author, Indiana University, Bloomington), David T. Canon (Author, University of Wisconsin, Madison)


Politics is about conflict.

Are your students cynical about conflict in American politics? Do they believe politicians generally fight for the sake of fighting, or to gain short-term advantage? Do they believe policy makers should simply set aside their differences and “listen to what the people want”? Bianco and Canon show students that conflict—and the compromise that is necessary to resolve it—is a normal, healthy part of the process that makes American democracy work.


Three “key ideas” help students make sense of politics

American Politics Today, Second Edition, uses three key ideas to demystify our complicated and often stormy politics. The three key ideas show students that:
•     Politics is conflictual, and conflict and compromise are normal, healthy parts of politics.
    Political process matters because it is the mechanism we have established to resolve conflicts and achieve compromise; the political process really can be understood through careful analysis.
    Politics is everywhere in that the results of the political process affect all aspects of Americans’ everyday lives; also, politics is not just something practiced by politicians—what happens inside the Beltway is often strikingly similar to what happens in everyday human interactions.

An integrated framework

The "three key ideas" framework is integrated throughout the text, pedagogical features, and student e-media, to further demystify the process. For example, Conflict and Compromise chapter openers each tell a story of conflict in American politics and show how that conflict is dealt with by the political system. Corresponding new Conflict and Compromise lecture-launcher PowerPoint slideshows contain engaging images and data graphics that help professors tell these stories, frame their lectures, and spark classroom discussion. And Politics in Conflict podcasts on the free and open StudySpace student website invite students to learn more about a particular area of conflict in American politics. Additional boxes and sidebars throughout the text prompt critical thinking or point to places in the text where each key idea is relevant. 

New pedagogical features

Today’s students need proof that politics is relevant to their lives and that analysis of the political system is the best way to understand it. Two new pedagogical features get students thinking like political scientists and convince them that political science research has something important to say about the real world:
•     “What Do Political Scientists Do?” boxes and videos put the research front and center, explaining in an engaging, journalistic style how political scientists identify research topics and conduct their studies, and what makes this work important to the lives of ordinary people. Videos are available via StudySpace, the free and open student website.
•     “Big Questions” chapter-opening outlines encourage student understanding and analysis, priming readers with the relevant “what,” “why,” and “how” questions; “Answering the Big Questions” chapter summaries help students review.

Fresh, current examples

The authors keep American Politics Today “ruthlessly contemporary” by using examples and political stories that students have heard of or that are of clear relevance to their daily lives. The recent health care reform bill is discussed throughout the book; the chapter 6 opener features the Jaycee Dugard abduction; and the elections chapter will be updated with the results of the 2010 midterm elections.  

The best value in American government

American Politics Today is the most affordable full-length, full-color text for the course, with a full suite of support materials, including the free and open StudySpace student website, free coursepacks, and more. 


    Chapter 1 Understanding American Politics
    Chapter 2 The Constitution and the Founding
    Chapter 3 Federalism
    Chapter 4 Civil Liberties


    Chapter 5 Public Opinion
    Chapter 6 The Media
    Chapter 7 Political Parties
    Chapter 8 Elections
    Chapter 9 Interest Groups


    Chapter 10 Congress
    Chapter 11 The Presidency
    Chapter 12 The Bureaucracy
    Chapter 13 The Courts


    Chapter 14 Civil Rights
    Chapter 15 Economic Policy
    Chapter 16 Social Policy
    Chapter 17 Foreign Policy


    The Declaration of Independence
    The Articles of Confederation
    The Constitution of the United States of America
    Amendments to the Constitution
    The Federalist Papers
    Presidents and Vice Presidents