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.
Chapter 11: Social Pluralism
There were thirty-eight different stations broadcasting on the AM band of the car radio. Revolution was being preached…. I heard offered a consensus of opinion that the public policy of the United States was deliberately designed … to subjugate twenty-six Black Americans…. From Lexington, Massachusetts, on WROL, a Protestant evangelist named Kathryn Kuhlman, who had been dead for three years, was on tape that could play until eternity, vigorously attacking all recipients of government welfare…. Four stations were broadcasting nothing but news…. Five stations were broadcasting only religious programming…. That was one hour on the AM band of one radio—and I have recorded only a tiny fraction of the information and opinion on concerns from stock to sex that I heard in ...