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Long Story Short

First Edition

February 2019 | 400 pages | CQ Press
“This new American Government textbook does the impossible by actually engaging today’s students.” 
–William Parent, San Jacinto College, North

All the fundamentals. No fluff. Learn more with less!

A truly revolutionary American Government textbook, AmGov: Long Story Short, responds to the needs of today’s students and instructors through brevity and accessibility. The succinct ten chapters are separated by tabs that make it easy to skim, flip, revisit, reorient, and return to content quickly. Reading aids like bullets, annotations and arrows walk students through important facts and break up the material in short, engaging bites of information that highlight not only what is important but why it’s important. Though brief, this core book is still robust enough to provide everything that students need to be successful in their American Government course. Whether for the on-the-go student who doesn’t have time to read and digest a lengthy chapter, or the instructor who wants a book that will stay out of their way and leave room for plenty of supplementary reading and activities, AmGov provides a perfectly simplified foundation for a successful American Government course. 

Hear author Christine Barbour talk about how she uses smart brevity as a pedagogical tool. Watch now!

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SAGE course outcomes: Measure Results, Track Success
Outlined in your text and mapped to chapter learning objectives, SAGE course outcomes are crafted with specific course outcomes in mind and vetted by advisors in the field. See how SAGE course outcomes tie in with this book’s chapter-level objectives at
CHAPTER 1: Politics and Citizenship
1.1. Introduction to Politics

1.2. Coming to Terms: Politics, Government, and Economics

1.3. Political-Economic Systems

1.4. American Political Culture

1.5. American Political Ideologies

1.6. Political Narratives and the Media

1.7. Mediated Citizenship

GenGap: How Our Birth Year Affects Our Politics

Big Think

Key Terms

CHAPTER 2: The United States’ Founding
2.1. Introduction to the Founding

2.2. The Social Contract

2.3. The Declaration of Independence

2.4. The Articles of Confederation

2.5. The Constitutional Convention

2.6. Ratification

2.7. Basic Constitutional Principles

2.8. Separation of Powers and Checks and Balances

2.9. Federalism and Checks and Balances

2.10. Changes in Federalism over Time

2.11. Federalism Today

2.12. Amending the Constitution

GenGap: Generational Attitudes toward the Federal Government

Big Think

Key Terms

CHAPTER 3: Civil Liberties and Civil Rights
3.1. Introduction to Civil Liberties and Civil Rights

3.2. Rights Equal Power

3.3. The Bill of Rights

3.4. Civil Liberties—Understanding the First Amendment

3.5. Civil Liberties—Understanding Due Process Rights

3.6. Civil Liberties—Understanding the Right to Privacy

3.7. Civil Rights—Battling Political Inequality

3.8. Civil Rights—The Case of Race

3.9. Civil Rights—The Case of Gender

3.10. The Persistence of Inequality in America

GenGap: Generational Attitudes toward Discrimination

Big Think

Key Terms

CHAPTER 4: The Legislative Branch
4.1. Introduction to the Legislative Branch

4.2. How the Constitution Structures Congress

4.3. How Congress Organizes Itself

4.4. The Congressional Role in Checks and Balances

4.5. Doing the Hard Work of Making Laws

4.6. Tensions That Challenge Congress’s Ability to Do Its Job

4.7. Congressional Elections

4.8. Who Runs and Who Wins? Does Congress Look Like America?

4.9. The 116th Congress

GenGap: Generational Attitudes toward the Parties

Big Think

Key Terms

CHAPTER 5: The Executive Branch
5.1. Introduction to the Executive Branch

5.2. The Job of the American President

5.3. The Evolution of the American Presidency

5.4. Presidents, Popularity, and Congress

5.5. What Is Bureaucracy, and Why Do We Need It?

5.6. The Purpose and Organization of the White House Bureaucracy

5.7. The Purpose and Organization of the Federal Bureaucracy: The Rest of the Executive Branch

5.8. Power Plays in the Bureaucracy

GenGap: Presidential Preferences across the Generations

Big Think

Key Terms

CHAPTER 6: The Judicial Branch
6.1. Introduction to the Judiciary

6.2. Kinds of Laws

6.3. The American Legal System

6.4. Who’s Who and What’s What in a Court of Law?

6.5. Equality and the Criminal Justice System

6.6. The Constitution, Congress, and the Dual Court System

6.7. The Supreme Court

GenGap: Generational Attitudes toward Justice in America

Big Think

Key Terms

CHAPTER 7: Parties and Interest Groups
7.1. Introduction to Parties and Interest Groups

7.2. Parties and Interest Groups Defined

7.3. The Role of Parties in a Democracy

7.4. Party Organization and Decision Making

7.5. The Parties Today

7.6. Interest Group Basics

7.7. Interest Group Politics

7.8. Was Madison Right to Worry?

GenGap: Party Identification and Policy Preferences across the Generations

Big Think

Key Terms

CHAPTER 8: Public Opinion, Campaigns, and Elections
8.1. Introduction to Public Opinion, Campaigns, and Elections

8.2. The Quality of Public Opinion

8.3. How Do We Know What Americans Think?

8.4. How Do We Form Our Opinions?

8.5. The Ultimate Poll—Voting in U.S. Elections

8.6. Presidential Elections

8.7. The General Election and the Electoral College

GenGap: How Younger Voters Feel about Voting

Big Think

Key Terms

CHAPTER 9: Media and Political Communication
9.1. Introduction to Media and Political Communication

9.2. Where We Get Our Information

9.3. Media Ownership and Government Regulation

9.4. What Do Journalists Do?

9.5. How Those in the Media Can Shape Political Narratives

9.6. The Stakeholders Strike Back

9.7. Imagine: How Citizens Can Reclaim the Narrative

GenGap: Mediated Citizenship across the Generations

Big Think

Key Terms

CHAPTER 10: Domestic and Foreign Policy
10.1. Introduction to Policy

10.2. Making Public Policy

10.3. Social Policy

10.4. Economic Policy

10.5. Foreign Policy

GenGap: Generational Attitudes toward Foreign Policy

Big Think

Key Terms



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  • quality textbook content delivered directly into your LMS
  • an intuitive, simple format that makes it easy to integrate the material into your course with minimal effort;
  • assessment tools that foster review, practice, and critical thinking, including:
    • diagnostic chapter pre tests and post tests that identify opportunities for improvement, track student progress, and ensure mastery of key learning objectives
    • test banks built on Bloom’s Taxonomy that provide a diverse range of test items with ExamView test generation
    • instructions on how to use and integrate the comprehensive assessments and resources provided;
  • assignable data exercises in each chapter help students build essential data literacy skills using interactive data visualization tools from SAGE Stats and U.S. Political Stats. Drawing on key data series ranging from demographic patterns to state budgets to voting behavior, these exercises offer students a dynamic way to analyze real-world data and think critically about the stories behind the numbers;
  • assignable SAGE Premium Video (available via the interactive eBook version, linked through SAGE coursepacks) that is tied to learning objectives, and curated and produced exclusively for this text to bring concepts to life, featuring: 
    • Corresponding multimedia assessment options that automatically feed to your gradebook
    • Comprehensive, downloadable, easy-to-use Media Guide in the Coursepack for every video resource, listing the chapter to which the video content is tied, matching learning objective(s), a helpful description of the video content, and assessment questions 
    • “Topics in American Government” videos that recap the fundamentals of American politics in every chapter—from the Bill of Rights to voter turnout to the powers of the presidency
    • News Clips from the Associated Press that bring extra coverage of current events into the book, connecting multiple, brief 2- to 4-minute news clips to core American government chapter content
  • chapter-specific discussion questions to help launch engaging classroom interaction while reinforcing important content;
  • editable, chapter-specific PowerPoint® slides that offer flexibility when creating multimedia lectures so you don’t have to start from scratch;
  • sample course syllabi with suggested models for structuring your course that give you options to customize your course to your exact needs;
  • lecture notes that summarize key concepts on a chapter-by-chapter basis to help you with preparation for lectures and class discussions;
  • integrated links to the interactive eBook that make it easy for students to maximize their study time with this “anywhere, anytime” mobile-friendly version of the text. It also offers access to more digital tools and resources, including SAGE Premium Video; and
  • all tables and figures from the textbook 

“This text is truly like having a conversation with the reader.”

Alicia Andreatta
Angelina College

“AmGov is a succinct survey of American government, written and presented in an engaging style that is pleasing to both students and faculty.” 

Sharon A Manna
North Lake College

“This text makes the study of American government engaging and easy to pursue. It is a modern and simple presentation of complex and comprehensive information with a layout that will attract students.”

Ronald Miller
Liberty University

“This new American Government textbook does the impossible by actually engaging today's students.” 

William Parent
San Jacinto College, North

It worked well for my shortened summer semester. I wish there were chapters on federalism and bureaucracy. Otherwise fine.

Mikel Norris
Politics and Geography, Coastal Carolina University
November 30, 2018