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Understanding American Government 14th Edition

Susan Welch, John Gruhl, Sue Thomas, MaryAnne Borrelli

  • Published
  • Previous Editions 2012, 2010, 2008
  • 624 Pages


UNDERSTANDING AMERICAN GOVERNMENT is highly respected and trusted for its attention to research and issues of diversity, as well as for its award-winning team of authors. While covering the foundations of American government, this text also moves beyond the nuts and bolts to explain why and how important aspects of government have evolved, their impact on government and individuals, and why they may be controversial, inspire debate, and worth learning. More than just narrating facts and current issues, UNDERSTANDING AMERICAN GOVERNMENT leaves students with an understanding of the “why”, so their knowledge can be applied long after the course is completed. UNDERSTANDING AMERICAN GOVERNMENT is a three-time winner of the American Government Textbook Award for the Best Treatment of Women in Politics, by the Women’s Caucus for Political Science.

Susan Welch, The Pennsylvania State University

Susan Welch received her AB and PhD degrees from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She is currently Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Professor of Political Science at The Pennsylvania State University. Her teaching and research areas include legislatures, urban politics, and women and minorities in politics. She publishes widely on issues of race, gender, and urban politics.

John Gruhl, University of Nebraska, Lincoln

John Gruhl, Professor of Political Science, received his AB from DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana, and his PhD from the University of California at Santa Barbara. Since joining the University of Nebraska faculty in 1976, he has taught and done research in the areas of judicial process, criminal justice, and civil rights and liberties. He holds campus- and university-wide distinguished teaching awards for excellence in undergraduate teaching and became a charter member of the university’s Academy of Distinguished Teachers.

Sue Thomas, Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation

Sue Thomas is Senior Research Scientist at the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation (PIRE) and Director of PIRE-Santa Cruz. Prior to joining PIRE, she served as Associate Professor of Government and Director of Women’s Studies at Georgetown University. She received her A.B. and M.Ed. from UCLA, and her Ph.D. from University of Nebraska, Lincoln. Her research specialty is women and politics, and among her publications are How Women Legislate and Women and Elective Office: Past, Present, and Future.

MaryAnne Borrelli, Connecticut College

MaryAnne Borrelli, Professor of Government at Connecticut College, received her BA from Wellesley College and her MA and PhD from Harvard University. Her teaching focuses on national institutions and on public policy in the United States, and she has earned awards for teaching excellence from the faculty and the Student Government Association. Professor Borrelli’s research centers on the workings of gender in the presidency; she has authored books and articles on the first ladyship and on cabinet appointments in the modern presidency.
  • All chapters now include learning objectives to help guide students through the chapter material.
  • Chapters conclude with a bulleted summary that connects the key points of the chapter with the learning objectives.
  • Discussion questions (5 – 10 per chapter) are included at the end of each chapter as a new critical thinking tool.
  • A new feature, “Thinking About Democracy,” encourages students to think critically about our system of government.
  • CourseReader allows users to create a fully customized online reader in minutes. Through a partnership with Gale, COURSEREADER: AMERICAN GOVERNMENT provides access to thousands of readings, articles, primary sources, and audio and video selections from multiple disciplines. Each chapter of the text highlights a CourseReader selection and includes critical thinking questions about the reading.
  • A new streamlined organization includes 15 chapters and 4 policy modules.
  • The four policy modules have a more narrow focus that addresses specific topics, and the policy topics are cross-referenced throughout the text so that political processes and policies can more readily be studied as complementary.
  • A reader-friendly presentation gives students a solid grounding in the concepts required for informed, effective citizenship, with an emphasis on the impact of government: how individual features of government affect its responsiveness to different groups.
  • “Talking Points” chapter-opening vignettes use current events to engage students in chapter topics.
  • Diversity issues are introduced in Chapter 1 and integrated throughout the text and photo program. Lively “American Diversity” boxes illustrate the impact of the social diversity of the American population on political life.
  • In-text call-outs pinpoint where specific issues are addressed in the Constitution, making it easy to reference the document in the appendix and to see how the Constitution deals with the topic at hand.
  • “Behind the Scenes” boxes draw students into the material and illustrate how government and politics really work.
  • The introductory chapter frames the book’s theme of the role of government. It asks the big questions such as: Why do we have government? Why is it so big? How much power does it really have? How much power do the people have?
  • Fully updated material throughout reflects the 2012 election cycle and the latest issues, information, and scholarship necessary for a current understanding of American government. In addition, an overall streamlining helps clarify key concepts for students in an even more accessible and engaging fashion.
Introduction: The Role of Government in America.
1. The American People.
2. The Constitution.
3. Federalism.
4. Public Opinion.
5. News Media.
6. Interest Group.
7. Political Parties.
8. Elections.
9. Congress.
10. The Presidency.
11. The Bureaucracy.
12. The Judiciary.
13. Civil Liberties.
14. Civil Rights.
Economic Policy Module.
Heath Policy Module.
Environmental Policy Module.
Foreign Policy Module.

Textbook Only Options

Traditional eBook and Print Options

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  • ISBN-10: 1285672070
  • ISBN-13: 9781285672076
  • STARTING AT $20.49

  • STARTING AT $108.49

  • ISBN-10: 1133950434
  • ISBN-13: 9781133950431
  • Bookstore Wholesale Price $84.75
  • RETAIL $112.95

  • ISBN-10: 1133955746
  • ISBN-13: 9781133955740
  • Bookstore Wholesale Price $172.25
  • RETAIL $228.95

“I think that the Welch text has been successful in accomplishing the goals of stimulating and promoting critical thinking among students and other users, increasing awareness on diversity issues, and in helping students to gain a better grasp of the foundation and basic features of American government.”

“The book does a great job articulating a vision of America as multicultural and diverse. It does a superb job in terms of laying the framework for American governance in clear terms but ones that do not sacrifice the complexities of the founding. It doesn’t overwhelm students with jargon and does a decent job relating government to students…it is highly successful in conveying the raison detre for government and governance in America and the national level.”

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.


Latino-American Politics Supplement

ISBN: 9781285184296
Authored by Fernando Pinon, this revised and updated thirty-two-page supplement uses real examples to detail politics related to Latino Americans.

All-You-Can-Learn Access with Cengage Unlimited

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