If all you know about a caucus comes from Alice in Wonderland, you should read this book. The back of Painless American Government recommends it for grades 6-8, but there are plenty of high school students and adults who could use a crash course on American government, and since this text is engaging and informative, why not start here? From the nature of government and its various incarnations to the structure of our three Federal branches, pretty much everything the layman would want or need to know is here (politics are not covered).
Frequent matching and multiple choice quizzes ensure students are retaining both the vocabulary and concepts, and an extensive index helps locate key topics quickly. An appendix includes the complete texts of the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights, the Declaration of Independence, and the Articles of Confederation. In easy-to-read prose that doesn't avoid humor and even silliness, students gain a better idea of how the president is elected and what his powers are, where laws are made, the difference between foreign and domestic policy, and what "separation of powers" means.
This is a straightforward presentation of American government, its history and its processes; author Jeffrey Strausser avoids questions of interpretation, conservative vs. liberal, church and state....for the most part. He insists on referring to our governmental system as a constitutional democracy, rather than making the important distinction that ours is a democratic republic. But such lapses are few, and students (and their teachers and parents!) will come away from Painless American Government with a sound understanding of the machinations that govern our country.
Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he is a husband and father, teaches adult Sunday school in his Presbyterian congregation, and likes weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur. Read more of his reviews here.