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American Political Parties and Elections: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) Paperback – 27 Sep 2007


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American Political Parties and Elections: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) + American Politics: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) + The U.S. Congress: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: OUP USA (27 Sept. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195301226
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195301229
  • Product Dimensions: 17.3 x 1.8 x 11.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 415,144 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Sandy Maisel is the William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of Government and Director of the Goldfarb Center of Public Affairs and Civic Engagement at Colby College. A former candidate for Congress, Maisel is the author or editor of 15 books on political parties and elections and is a frequent commentator on contemporary politics.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Bojan Tunguz TOP 500 REVIEWER on 7 April 2011
Format: Paperback
Despite all the high-level media coverage that politics gets in the US, the way that American political system works is rather obscure even for someone who has been following politics for many years. There are several key aspects of this system that make it very different from other highly developed democracies around the world. The most notorious one of these aspects, the electoral system, prevents direct election of the American president, and makes only a handful of states competitive in the presidential race. Furthermore, what makes the political system particularly complicated is the fact that each one of the fifty states has its own political and electoral idiosyncrasies.

This book is a very useful first step for anyone who is serious about learning more about American politics. It covers all the main features of the system, without getting bogged down in technical details. It provides a concise and accessible overview, from both historical and contemporary points of view. The inclusion of several recent political contests makes the material relevant and approachable. It is an easy and enjoyable read and will be appreciated by anyone who is interested in the subject, whether you have been following American politics for decades or are completely new to it. I highly recommend it.
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Very Short Introduction books are great, because normally you get an expert on the subject unleashing a torrent of interesting and understandable facts on the subject. This books fills that mandate impeccably, but it is not short of the author's opinion either. If I am reading a book to get a grounding in the subject, then I want it to be scrupulously impartial, but I cannot say that about this book. Maisel is obviously a great proponent of Electoral Reform, and can hardly hide their disgust at the Electoral College system when explaining that. Other than the author's opinion seeping in, it is a very good outline which helps explain the key concepts that you hear about in the news, and allows you to join in with the very real and relevant debates happening at the moment.
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Overall very succinct introduction to the American political system. Ideal for someone wanting to be brought up to speed on the most important aspects of the American political system. Very Interesting.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 6 reviews
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Solid, detailed, thorough, readable introduction 15 July 2008
By Robert J. Pekkanen - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This book is a great example of what the VSI series should (and often does) achieve. It provides a thorough introduction to the topic that somehow combines incredibly mastery of detail with lively writing. The reader comes away with a solid grasp of the subject. As a professional political scientist who read this as a possible classroom textbook, I can attest that the information is of top quality. I'm enough of an academic that I always worry with well-written books if I'm really getting an accurate grounding in the subject, or if it is instead readable but superficial or misleading. No worries in this case. Maisel does it right. Non-American readers might detect a tinge (or more) of patriotism shining through, and sometimes the book seems pitched too clearly to Americans. I often thought I heard Maisel's voice lecturing his undergraduates when I read the book (not a bad thing in itself, I'm sure his lectures are fantastic). This is really a minor point though and, after all, we academics can never bring ourselves to write ONLY positive things in a review. All in all, this book more than delivers what it promises: an excellent, thorough, information-packed, and readable overview. Sandy Maisel was surely the right person to ask to write the book.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Informative and relevant 17 May 2008
By Dr. Bojan Tunguz - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Despite all the high-level media coverage that politics gets in the US, the way that American political system works is rather obscure even for someone who has been following politics for many years. There are several key aspects of this system that make it very different from other highly developed democracies around the world. The most notorious one of these aspects, the electoral system, prevents direct election of the American president, and makes only a handful of states competitive in the presidential race. Furthermore, what makes the political system particularly complicated is the fact that each one of the fifty states has its own political and electoral idiosyncrasies.

This book is a very useful first step for anyone who is serious about learning more about American politics. It covers all the main features of the system, without getting bogged down in technical details. It provides a concise and accessible overview, from both historical and contemporary points of view. The inclusion of several recent political contests makes the material relevant and approachable. It is an easy and enjoyable read and will be appreciated by anyone who is interested in the subject, whether you have been following American politics for decades or are completely new to it. I highly recommend it.
Concise and easy to understand. 28 Dec. 2014
By Sandra E. Nyman - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Easy to read and understand. In a concise format.
1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
WOW...lots I didn't know! 28 Dec. 2010
By Michael Lapelosa - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Very good intro/overview about the workings of our political parties and suggestions for improvements. Electoral College section was interesting and helped me understand this mysterious entity.
1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Poorly written 14 Mar. 2011
By Fiona Miller - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This book is quite poorly written. My search for a good, short treatment of parties and elections that will be accessible to undergraduates, without encouraging egregious grammatical infelicities, continues.
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