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Freedom in America

Freedom in America

September 2011 | 456 pages | CQ Press
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.

Coercive Power
The Police Power
The American Constitution
The Declaration of Independence
Tocqueville and Marx
Reciprocal Power
Moral Power
Social Pluralism
Political Democracy
The Presidency
The Coercive Power of the Presidency
The Presidency’s Reciprocal and Moral Powers
Legislatures as Schools
Congress as Defender of Freedom
The Supreme Court as Freedom’s Protector
The Moral Power of the Courts
Political Parties: Machines, Coalitions, Churches
American Newspapers and Ideas
Free-Market Capitalism
The Moral Effects of Taxation
Federalism and Freedom Part
We the People
The American Electorate
Tocqueville’s Warnings
Racial Equality
Americans and Foreign Relations
The Democratic Vision

I considered this book a very good choice for supplemental reading for my course this semester. It contains several chapters that are best for suggested reading rather than class reading. However, I might use this as a text book for a new class that I am designing about democracy in the world.

Dr Miguel Buitrago
Department of Social Science, University of Hamburg
September 18, 2012

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