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"Politics is a gateway to a broader and better understanding of human nature, society, and the world." This idea has inspired each edition of UNDERSTANDING POLITICS: IDEAS, INSTITUTIONS, AND ISSUES. Thomas Magstadt's book provides in-depth coverage of contemporary political issues and calls attention to the more enduring underlying questions. With its intense and engaging "politics are pertinent" theme, the 12th edition fascinates students with its analysis of three fundamental premises: politics is a pervasive force in modern society; government is too important to be left in the hands of a few; and everyone has the opportunity to participate in public life in a republic. This edition of UNDERSTANDING POLITICS focuses on vital topics and concepts such as democracy, dictatorship, ideology, citizenship, voting behavior, elections, public policy, leadership, war, revolution, foreign policy, world politics, and international law.

Thomas Magstadt, European Studies Program, University of Kansas

Thomas Magstadt earned his doctorate at the Johns Hopkins Schools of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). He is the author NATIONS AND GOVERNMENTS: COMPARATIVE POLITICS IN REGIONAL PERSPECTIVE, Sixth Edition, (Wadsworth Publishing, 2011), and AN EMPIRE IF YOU CAN KEEP IT: POWER AND PRINCIPLE IN AMERICAN FOREIGN POLICY (CQ Press, 2004). He has also published numerous journal articles, policy papers, and op-ed pieces, and is a regular contributor to Nation of Change, an on-line daily newspaper. He has chaired political science departments at Augustana College (Sioux Falls) and the University of Nebraska (Kearney), and has taught at the Thunderbird School, the Air War College, and the University of Missouri--Kansas City. In the 1980s, he served for a time as a foreign intelligence analyst at the Central Intelligence Agency. He was a Fulbright Scholar in the Czech Republic from 1994 to 1996. From 2007 to 2010, he lectured on the European Union at the University of Kansas.
  • The "Politics and Pop Culture" feature is designed to stimulate class discussion and demonstrate how movies and music play an important role in reflecting or challenging our ideas and opinions, shaping our perceptions, and heightening our awareness of the issues.
  • "Think About It" questions with each feature challenge students to connect them with the main text.
  • Chapter 17 has been recast and expanded to examine the basic principles and concepts in international relations, the evolving structure and context of world politics, certain key global issues, international law, and the role of the United Nations.
  • Examples and updates throughout include: the 2014 midterm election, the war in Ukraine, the rise of the Islamic State (ISIS) in the Middle East, and various recent events at home and abroad.
  • This edition focuses on the effective, foundation-building approach to the study of politics and government by identifying then describing and explaining political phenomena to grab students' attention. The emphasis on the common threads tying major political ideas, issues, and institutions together helps students make sense of the political and economic world.
  • The expanded non-American-centric topics provide a more global approach to politics. Boxed features such as "Ideas and Politics" and "Landmarks in History" provide students with background information to help conceptualization.
1. Introduction: The Study of Politics.
2. The Idea of the Public Good: Ideologies and Isms.
3. Utopias: Model States.
4. Constitutional Democracy: Models of Representation.
5. The Authoritarian Model: Myth and Reality.
6. The Totalitarian Model: A False Utopia.
7. Parliamentary Democracy: Pros and Cons of Perishable Governments.
8. States and Economies in Transition: Between Democracy and Yesterday.
9. Development: Myths and Realities.
10. Political Socialization: The Making of a Citizen.
11. Political Participation: The Limits of Democracy.
12. Political Leadership: The Many Faces of Power.
13. Issues in Public Policy: Politics, Principles, Priorities, and Practices.
14. Revolution: In the Name of Justice.
15. War: Politics by Other Means.
16. Terrorism: War, Crimes, or War Crimes?
17. International Relations: The Struggle for World Order.
18. Afterword: The Power of Knowledge.

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  • STARTING AT $29.49

  • ISBN-10: 1305997662
  • ISBN-13: 9781305997660
  • STARTING AT $32.49

  • ISBN-10: 1305629906
  • ISBN-13: 9781305629905
  • Bookstore Wholesale Price $150.00
  • RETAIL $199.95

"This book compares very well against other leading introductory textbooks. The chapters are well organized, the writing style is clear and engaging, and the topics are amply illustrated. Its up-to-date information gives it a fresh face and enhances its scholarship, which covers all areas of political science. Overall, it is a great introduction to politics and political science."

"Thomas Magstadt's Understanding Politics compares very favorably with other political science textbooks already on the market. The sheer breadth of chapters covered, the maps and illustrations, the pedagogical notes and insets, the succinct length of the chapters, and the currency of the facts and figures make it a great resource for instructors and students alike."