5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
My first "For Dummies" book was about the DOS computer operating system nearly twenty years ago - and I found it really helpful! Since those days the range of subjects covered has increased to over 1,700 and they provide a good understanding of their subjects - and they are certainly not just for Dummies; a reference for the rest of us, is the Dummies byline.
Journalist Julian Knight provides an interesting and timely background to British Politics in his Dummies book which may prove useful in the run up to this years General Election. I was pleased to be offered this book to review as my eighteen year old is always bemoaning the fact he was not taught anything about politics at school and is looking forward to casting his first vote in May. He has found this book to be invaluable in providing a good level of background information about the whole subject, and for helping him to ask the right questions regarding his family members' political persuasions!
Amazon have provided a really good Product Description of this book which outlines in great detail how the subject is covered and should give you a good idea of the books appeal to you - or not! British Politics for Dummies is a book of politics now, and although it may still be of some interest after the General Election when all the "excitement" has died down, it is best read beforehand when a lot of its content is more relevant.
Quite a difficult book to give a star rating as its appeal will decline a bit with the passage of time. If you can read it before May 6th then you will get the maximum benefit and I would say five stars; as the election fades into history so will some of this books content so then I could only give three stars. For now I will compromise and give British Politics four stars.
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on 23 July 2012
I didn't buy this book to supplement any period of formal study, but instead to give myself a brief, basic introduction to British Politics. We are bombarded and surrounded by politics and political jargon every day and I think that a little knowledge to cut through the politicalese would be of huge help to everyone.
This book provides just that, highlighting the bare bones of British Politics without dumbing the whole thing down too much. The author doesn't go into long, confusing paragraphs full of the nitty-gritty of Politics, instead opting to gloss over things in sufficient detail to understand the politicalese used in the daily papers. Knight includes essentially all the important aspects of politics in the UK, such as the structure of the political parties, how the Houses of Parliament work, who's who, and a brief political history of the UK.
Overall, I would recommend this to people who are either completely ignorant of politics, or those who only know a little. I think it might be a little basic for those who know "more than the average person" about politics, but even experienced politicos might learn something, since this book contains chapters on the EU, the UN and the politics of the United States as well.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
*Update* I think I may have been a little harsh in my review below. I was a bit peeved at the beginning of the book when the term 'General election' was transposed with 'Parlimentary election' which I think could be confusing. Also some sentances were too long. The connection between a constituency and its 'seat' in parliament, and the fact it may or may not be a 'cabinet' seat should be really easy to explain but I didn't feel it was. This was a fundamental point which should have been cleared up at the beginning of the book.
However, the broad topics covered are presented well overall. Just this evening Mr Portillo was talking about Athenian politics on the telly; I would never have known what he was harping on about if I hadn't read this book.
So I've awarded it another star.
This book covers a lot; as well as British politics it also compares our systems with those around the world and explains the EU, NATO, and UN including the Security Council.
But I didn't find it as explicit as it should have been. The 'Speed of light trip' around the basics of politics in chapter one didn't deliver what it promised and I found it too rambling, not to the point and not basic enough for the average pleb to take in. Some more charts or diagrams would have helped.
I still had to refer to Wikipedia to clarify some points as well as resorting to that other resource... asking my Dad! This was mainly down to ambiguous language used in the text.
I would say that the book could have covered even more within its 400-odd pages if it cut down on the waffle and unfunny (in my opinion) humour.
The individual roles of each Secretary of State is not really explained whereas a government poster I found online listed them all out along with their responsibilities.
Seeing as so many people are turned-off politics because they don't understand it or feel it seems too complicated and boring, it is a great shame that this book isn't really a true 'Dummie's Guide'. If this IS a dummie's guide then perhaps I should have been reading the cretin's guide.
To its credit, it does very much cover 'real world' aspects of politics ie. the media, spin doctors, voters' apathy etc.
Pretty good overall but shouldn't worry about being patronising and really should be aimed at the political ignoramus.
[My Ref: Dummy Politics 22.03]
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
A passable overview of the subject, though as others have mentioned it is very basic but that's the nature of the Dummies series: bite-size chunks of generalisations
I think this would be useful for foreign students who want a basic start in Democracy UK and with an eighteen page index most subjects are covered.
I did find it lacking in one area: taxation and finance. Perhaps the author didn't want to get involved in a subject that is very changeable from one administration to the next but I think it's an important issue because so much of what any party says and does has some financial implications. No one wants to be perceived as the taxation party so a whole range of revenue strategies are created to give the impression that taxes will always be lower, so vote for us. The index had no PFI, Treasury and Chancellor of the Exchequer and taxes only get two references each.
I know it's a minor point but I find the Dummies presentation very old fashioned looking. Having created the layout style years ago the publishers seem reluctant to update it. The main heading type (probably called Dummies Bold Italic Script) really looks like something from the Fifties. The one wide column per page, margin icons and the ticks to indicate important bits of copy all need a thorough makeover. The covers are really stuck in a well-worn rut.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 16 July 2010
Given that British politics has evolved over centuries and applies to virtually every aspect of our lives, writing a book that covers even the basics in an accessible manner was always going to be a tall order. This 'Dummies' version is probably about as accessible as it's going to get.
If you've ever read a 'Dummies' book you should know what to expect, as this is formatted in exactly the same way as a 'Dummies' book on Microsoft Office. Everything is broken down into small chunks of information, with lots of little boxed out notes. On the whole it works well, giving you enough information to grasp the principles without getting bogging down in details. It's still not exactly a light read, but works well when read in order or just reading random sections out of sequence.
As my political knowledge is grounded in the odd TV documentary, newspaper articles and pub banter I couldn't say how accurate or complete the information in the book is, but it came across as unbiased and well informed. So if you're someone who wants a better understanding of the British political system then 'British Politics for Dummies' is good place to start.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 26 February 2011
I wanted a broad explanation of politics so looked at the Dummies series. I was not disappointed, the book is written in a serious way but brings the subject out in an easy manner. Ive learnt much from this book and it has demystified a lot.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
The Dummies books are fairly ubiquitous, and while they're not always the best text books in the range, they're usually worth a go. 'Text-book textbooks', if you like. 'British Politics' is a worthy entry into the series, providing a well-written and engaging introduction to the topic.
'British Politics for Dummies' offers a broad, fairly comprehensive look at what British Politics is. Much more accessible than the various wikipedia articles that exist on similar topics. Anyone with a passing interest could happily snap it up and come away with a lot more knowledge than the average voter.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
The For Dummies series takes virtually any subject and reduces it to the same single medium-sized book length, with helpful pull-outs, witty icons to catch your attention, and a generally chatty reading style that keeps almost anyone on board. Some subjects are bigger than others, and British Politics may be one of the biggest. This book is massively simplified, but is probably the most useful general introduction I've seen. Don't rely on it if you're standing for parliament this year, though: most of it is too cut-down to stand up to the rigours of a hustings meeting.
The thing about politics is that everyone has an opinion -- but most opinions are on a very narrow range of topics. In this book, Julian Knight surveys the entire field, which is superb if you are a home-grown expert on one area but unknowledgeable about the rest, or, indeed, if you don't have a clue and feel you ought to get informed.
What this book won't do is tell you how to vote. It only has a few pages on party politics, reducing -- for example -- the entire 300 year history of the Whigs, Liberals and Liberal-Democrats to a paragraph, and giving you the scantiest, flimsiest reasons why you might vote for one party rather than another. This is quite refreshing: party politics puts most people off most of the time, and giving attention to all the other things is both timely and useful.
So, who should buy this book? Seriously, in a democracy, everyone _ought_ to understand the political process and their part in it. If you walk into a political bookshop, you can find abstruse, polemical or learned tomes (and often all three) on any subject, but you are unlikely to find one which sets out the whole of politics as simply and as fairly as this one does.
This book aims to cover every aspect of the rather complicated British electoral system in one fairly easy to read text. In that it does, at least in part, succeed. The mechanics of the local elections are described in detail, as is the structure of government once a party is in power. Some of it was, to be honest, still very dry, but that's only to be expected given the subject matter, I suppose. There seemed to be a little too much focus on external areas - the EU, and, in particular, the UK's relationship with America - but what there was on those areas was informative, if slightly less in-depth than the more national affairs areas.
Perhaps the worst thing I can say about this book is that it tries to explain a complicated system, and does so clearly, and well, but perhaps not as simply as it could - while this is a `for dummies' book, the sheer weight of information can feel a bit smothering, and it can be easy to get confused, and need more clarification, simply because the subject matter is so complex.
However, as with Dummies books in other areas, it does strive to be comprehensive, and the layout of bullet points and info boxes does help to make complex parts of the political process easier to understand - I found myself referring to the text during the 2010 election campaign, and found it very useful for clarifying areas of confusion on that basis.
Overall, a good purchase, if a bit too dense and complicated - but that may be as much the fault of the subject matter as the text.
`British Politics for Dummies' was released in time for the 2010 UK general election and offers up a good introduction to some of the basic ideas of British politics for those who want to get behind the analysis and debate in the media. In the typical `Dummies' format this book explores basic political ideas, the electoral process in the UK, the British constitution, devolution, Britain's position globally, the EU, and more besides. This also has the now obligatory `part of tens' which looks at Great Prime Ministers (although some may argue over the selection!), Political scandals, Political events that have shaped the modern world and Political trends for the future. For the most part this is clear and interesting to read, but as with any book of this type some chapters will engage you more depending on your personal interests and views. I particularly enjoyed the chapters about the UK's place on the international stage and it is interesting to see how we have moved from empire to global consensus with international political bodies (EU) and alliances (US). All in all this is an interesting read that is great to dip into at odd moments and as a reference book when you need political terms and concepts clarified for you. Another great addition to the `dummies' collection.
Feel free to check out my blog which can be found on my profile page.