If you want students to really understand the concept of power, moving beyond a survey book's quick discussion of Laswell's “who gets what and how,” Muir's thoughtful Freedom in America might be the book for you. Exploring the words and ideas of such thinkers as Madison, Jefferson, Hamilton, and Tocqueville, Muir discusses the nature and limits of three types of power—coercive, reciprocal, and moral—and then uses this framework to explain how American political institutions work.
If looking for an alternative to a long survey text—or itching to get students grappling with The Federalist Papers or Democracy in America with more of a payoff—Muir's meditation on power and personal freedom is a gateway for students to take their study of politics to the next level. His inductive style, engaging students with well-chosen and masterfully written stories, lets him draw out and distill key lessons without being preachy. Read a chapter and decide if this page turner is for you.
Systems of belief resemble a thick matting of roots under the floor of the forest which if cut may result in the withering of some distant bush or a whole tree. The man who intrudes into another culture, or way of life, … is like one who cuts bothersome roots without being aware of their functions and interconnections. The people of the other culture, however, like the trees of the forest, even if themselves ignorant of the functional nature of their system of belief, nevertheless feel it when their roots are cut.
No political novel better illustrates the dynamic of widespread disorientation—social anomie—than Robert Penn Warren's All the King's Men.1 Its setting is the United States, but among Warren's motives ...