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.

Americans and Foreign Relations

Americans and foreign relations

[T]he energy of the executive is the bulwark of the national security….

AlexanderHamilton, Federalist No. 70 (1788)

The foresight of Alexis de Tocqueville frequently astounds. He seemed to wield a divining rod, sensitive to forces then underground that would come to shape the United States over the next two centuries. So many of his prophecies came true: the “workaholic” habits of Americans;1 their “restless” mobility;2 their faith in competition;3 their personal generosity;4 their “habit of mind” to universalize;5 their mundane ambitions;6 their obsession with improvement, innovation, comfort, and wealth;7 their respect for law;8 the universal influence of lawyers;9 the inefficiencies of their amateur local governments;10 their patriotism;11 their adherence to religion in the face of scientists’ skepticism and intellectuals’ ridicule;12 ...

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