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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.

The Moral Effects of Taxation
The moral effects of taxation

[The Prince] ought to encourage his citizens peaceably to pursue their affairs, whether in trade, in agriculture, or in any other human activity, so that no one will hesitate to improve his possessions for fear that they will be taken from him, and no one will hesitate to open a new avenue of trade for fear of taxes.

NiccolòMachiavelli, The Prince (1513)

How should a free-market, capitalist society be governed? An old Chinese saying urges, “Governing a great country is like cooking a small fish: Don't overdo it.” Translated, that piece of wisdom warns that when coercion is not absolutely necessary, it's absolutely necessary not to use it. To ensure safety, deter theft (in all its varieties), and ...

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