Useful, accessible, and interesting,
This review is from: Understanding the Political World: A Comparative Introduction to Political Science (Paperback)
Over the past decade, I have taught the Intro. to Political Science (201) course several times at my local community college - despite the name of the course, it is often the second course students take, after the Intro. to American Government (101) course. I look forward to teaching it again, perhaps in this coming year. I have always used an edition of Danziger's text, and this latest incarnation will continue to be my choice.
This book introduces the basic elements of political philosophy, political theory, political parties, world politics and international relations, and political institutions. The first chapter sets the stage for the study of political science as a field of inquiry, helping to determine what is and is not an appropriately political question (as opposed to a psychological question, or an historical question, etc.). Obviously there will be overlap in disciplines, but this chapter does a good job at setting out some basic elements in what we know and how we know it with regard to politics.
The book then proceeds to discuss the topic in four major headings: political behaviour, political systems, political processes, and politics among states. For my purposes, I start with the later sections of world politics and work back - I find that students relate to the theories better after we've discussed particulars; this book is good at bringing up important elements and parallels across national lines, political parties, and cultural norms. This latest edition includes updated information on the Iraqi processes toward democracy, Chilean situations with the Mapuche people, Ireland's shift from economic dynamo to struggling economy, and the changing face of both China and the European Union in the modern world. To this extent, I'm working backwards from the way the book is organized, but each chapter does work as a self-contained set of data.
The book is generously supplied with graphics, images, charts and figures, as well as sidebar and boxed information that adds anecdotes, debates and useful discussion points and questions for further thought.
Ultimately, as Danziger states, `The study of the political world is of crucial importance to the creation of humane social life. Ultimately it is up to you, as you read this book, to decide what can be known about politics and whether you think political "science" is feasible.'