4 out of 4 stars
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Increasingly, politics has begun dominating not only the news cycle but also forums like late night comedy and social media. As more and more people find their political voices, it’s important that there be an understandable and non-partisan means to remember that high school civics class. Deborah Cupples provides that through her book It Is About You: How American Government Works and How to Help Fix It.
First and foremost, this book is well organized and easy to understand. It is full of factual information and instructs the reader about how to find more detailed information through official websites, even providing hyperlinks for compatible devices. If you know nothing about American political structure, you will be able to gain a basic understanding with the means to learn more. If you already have a working knowledge, you will not only get a refresher course, but you will probably learn something new as well. If there is a specific aspect of government about which you are especially curious, the book is sufficiently well organized to serve as a reference. The first third of the book deals with some basic information about law. The second part discusses the structures and bodies of government. The third and final part talks about the means available for citizens and organizations to influence government.
The second most important aspect of this book is that it is totally non-partisan. Most authors who write about politics are unable to hide their own political leanings, but this author does so very well. She sometimes mentions ideas that “some people” espouse, but she never reveals her own opinion. Occasionally, the author uses contemporary political figures as examples, but she maintains total objectivity and keeps these incidences strictly information-oriented. Although this is a book about politics, the author is successful in keeping it totally non-political.
The book is also set up in a manner that maximizes its usefulness as a resource. It opens with a comprehensive Table of Contents that includes even the subheadings under each chapter. Every entry in this Table of Contents is hyperlinked to the relevant page, making it very easy for someone to find the exact topic they need. These hyperlinks also exist within the text as necessary. I already mentioned hyperlinks to outside websites, but the text links to itself, for instance, when the section on the judiciary mentions congressional powers. At the end of the book, there is an Appendix in which the entire Constitution is printed.
For such a short book, It Is About You: How American Government Works and How to Fix It by Deborah Cupples is astonishingly informative yet totally accessible to any reader. It is extremely well organized and doesn’t fall into the trap of espousing or even revealing a political opinion. This book is an effective primer and resource for understanding how the government of the United States works and the ways that people can try to influence it. I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars, and I would recommend it to every person who wishes to be able to discuss American politics.
It Is About You
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