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American Government

American Government
Stories of a Nation, Brief Edition

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December 2017 | 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.
About the Author
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  
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  
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  
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  
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  


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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

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