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California Politics and Government: A Practical Approach 14th Edition

Larry N. Gerston, Terry Christensen

  • Published
  • 192 Pages


Clear, concise and straightforward, CALIFORNIA POLITICS AND GOVERNMENT: A PRACTICAL APPROACH, 14th Edition, is the most up-to-date and readable text on this subject. The book provides insight into real-life politics as it illustrates the complex forces at work in state government, and current examples enable students to comprehend the ins and outs of California politics. Coverage includes the 2016 elections as well as updates on judicial appointments, the impact of revised term limits for legislators, the state of California's budget, crime and prisons, water and immigration policy, and more. The impact of politics on public policy is integrated throughout the text, helping students see the impact of government and legislation. This text is ideally suited as a companion for an American government class, as well as a foundation for a course on state government.

Larry N. Gerston, San Jose State University, Professor Emeritus

Larry N. Gerston, professor emeritus of political science at San Jose State University, interacts with the political process as both an author and an observer. As an author, he has written 11 academic books in addition to California Politics and Government: A Practical Approach, including Making Public Policy: From Conflict to Resolution (1983); Politics in the Golden State (with Terry Christensen, 1984); The Deregulated Society (with Cynthia Fraleigh and Robert Schwab, 1988); American Government: Politics, Process and Policies (1993); Public Policy: Process and Principles (1987); Public Policymaking in a Democratic Society: A Guide to Civic Engagement (2002); Recall! California's Political Earthquake (with Terry Christensen, 2004); American Federalism: A Concise Introduction (2007); Confronting Reality: Ten Issues Threatening to Implode American Society and How We Can Fix It (2009); Not So Golden After All: The Rise and Fall of California (2012); and Reviving Citizen Engagement: Policies to Renew National Community (2015). Gerston serves as the political analyst for NBC11, a San Francisco Bay Area television station, where he appears on a regular basis. He has written more than 140 op-ed pieces for newspapers throughout the nation and speaks often on issues such as civic engagement and political empowerment.

Terry Christensen, San Jose State University, Professor Emeritus

Terry Christensen is a San Jose State University Professor Emeritus of Political Science. Among his many awards for scholarship and service to the university, he was named Outstanding Professor in 1998. He is the author or co-author of nine books. In addition to those co-authored with Larry Gerston, his works include Projecting Politics: Political Messages in American Films (with Elizabeth Haas and Peter Haas, 2015), and Local Politics: A Practical Guide to Governing at the Grassroots (with Tom Hogen-Esch, 2006). Local and national media regularly call on him for analysis of politics in California and Silicon Valley and he is the host of Valley Politics, a television show on local politics in Silicon Valley. Christensen is experienced in practical politics at the local level as an advocate of policy proposals, an adviser to grassroots groups, and an adviser and mentor to candidates for local office -- many of whom are his former students. He has served on numerous civic committees and commissions. He was the founding executive director of CommUniverCity San Jose (, a partnership between the City of San Jose, San Jose State University, and adjacent neighborhoods. Through CommUniverCity, hundreds of students are learning about life and politics in their community through service projects selected by neighborhood residents and supported by the city.
  • The "Get Involved" and "Learn More on the Web" features have been enhanced with more suggestions for students to learn by doing or by research on the Internet.
  • "Highlights" at the beginning of each chapter point to key learning objectives.
  • Chapter 1, "California's People, Economy and Politics: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow," includes a new introduction and more discussion of economic inequality in California.
  • Chapter 2, "California's Political Parties and Direct Democracy," discusses the impact of the "top two" primary on California's political parties and evolution toward a one-party state as well as the plethora of initiatives on the 2016 ballot.
  • Chapter 7, "The Executive Branch: Coping with Fragmented Authority," discusses Governor Brown's second term in office in greater detail, with special attention given to his relationship with the state legislature and his policies.
  • Chapter 8, "Taxing and Spending: Budgetary Politics and Policies," presents updates on state budget issues, including education spending.
  • Chapter 10, "State and Federal Relations: Conflict, Cooperation, and Chaos," includes expanded and updated coverage of water politics, climate change, immigration and high-speed rail.
  • The 2016 election is a factor in every chapter -- from presidential and legislative elections and same-party competition under the "top two" primary, to statewide ballot measures on tax policy, the death penalty, gun control, and more.
  • Includes the significant events and policies for California through the 2016 election.
  • Each chapter includes guidance for further online research as well as ways to learn from practical experience in politics by getting involved.
  • Chapters are replete with references to leaders and issues in the news but always in the broader context of California government and politics.
  • Instructors who use this text will not need to use class time to explain key terms and concepts (assuming students read the book!) because they're printed in bold when discussed in the text, and each term in bold is succinctly defined in the glossary.
  • Keeping students up-to-date on key issues, changes in state and federal regulations are highlighted throughout the text, including those related to immigration policy, prison reform, and California's environmental policy versus federal policy. The book also presents in-depth coverage of interest groups, campaigns, and state/federal relations.
  • Public policies from immigration to climate change, prison reform, federal relations to taxation, water and the drought are integrated throughout the text -- rather than being consigned to individual chapters -- to help students understand how these policies are shaped and to make connections and focus on the real impacts and practical effects of legislation and other government activities on their lives.
1. California's People, Economy and Politics: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow.
2. California's Political Parties and Direct Democracy.
3. California Elections, Campaigns, and the Media.
4. Interest Groups: The Power behind the Dome.
5. The Legislature: The Perils of Policymaking.
6. California Law: Politics and the Courts.
7. The Executive Branch: Coping with Fragmented Authority.
8. Taxing and Spending: Budgetary Politics and Policies.
9. California's Local Governments: Politics at the Grassroots.
10. State–Federal Relations: Conflict, Cooperation, and Chaos.

Textbook Only Options

Traditional eBook and Print Options

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  • STARTING AT $17.49

  • ISBN-10: 1337658421
  • ISBN-13: 9781337658423
  • STARTING AT $36.99

  • ISBN-10: 1305953495
  • ISBN-13: 9781305953499
  • Bookstore Wholesale Price $67.50
  • RETAIL $89.95

“This book is far superior to most of its competitors in the U.S. Government market. It covers more material, flows better, and is well written.”

“Gerston and Christensen. . . both have a keen sense of community, the diversity of California residents, community standards, and the issues and problems at hand-and they present all of this information in a clear, understandable, and succinct manner that is important for the many students of different backgrounds that take the American/California Government courses with me.”

Cengage provides a range of supplements that are updated in coordination with the main title selection. For more information about these supplements, contact your Learning Consultant.


Online Instructor's Manual with Test Bank

ISBN: 9781305953512
Streamline and maximize the effectiveness of your course preparation with this valuable resource!