Gr 8 Up—Using the popular series format, these books discuss some of the most controversial issues of the contemporary American political scene, with some overlap in coverage. Two-Party System discusses the extreme polarization of American politics, the promise and perils of third parties, changes to the Electoral College, gerrymandering, and the overuse of the filibuster in the Senate. Campaigns is the more comprehensive title, examining problems and proposals for reform, redistricting and gerrymandering, and the rapid growth of Internet operations to build campaign support and raise funds. It includes reproductions of political cartoons, sidebars about related topics, and discussion questions. Both volumes draw on excerpts from books and periodical articles, and as usual with the format, differing opinions are well represented and given equal weight. While these titles are certainly timely, the topics have been exhaustively covered in electronic and print media. Many of the readings are drawn from those sources and are widely available. Additionally, the books often veer into arcane details of campaign financing, redistricting, and Electoral College reform and fail to give students a much-needed historical perspective that would better inform their understanding of the underlying issues. Most students would be better served by more general overviews of American campaigns, such as Kathiann M. Kowalski's Campaign Politics: What's Fair? What's Fowl? (Lerner, 2000), making both of these titles supplemental choices for libraries that need detail-rich research materials (such as for debate preparation) on American politics.—Mary Mueller, Rolla Junior High School, MO
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