Basic American Government

Basic American Government

Clarence Carson, known to many home educators for his American History series, has tackled American Government, a subject inevitably made dull by most textbooks. Carson brings life to his subject by putting it in context, dealing with the people and ideas that formed our government rather than treating us to lists of lifeless facts. Carson tackles topics others shy away from. I was particularly pleased to see that he deals with the definition of our form of government as a republic rather than a democracy. He credits the Judeo-Christian view of man as the reason for that choice by our founding fathers.

Carson frequently addresses the expansion of federal power at the expense of states' rights. One such instance is in relation to the 17th amendment, which provided for direct election of senators. He shows how this was a dramatic shift from the selection of senators by state legislatures, which moved our country away from the intended form of republicanism and toward democracy.

The entire book is 592 pages in length, but the actual text is only 480 pages. A glossary, notes, documents, and an index comprise the rest. Still, this is a hefty book for some high schoolers—slow going at times, but for the most part, very interesting reading.

It is arranged in four sections: Introduction and Examination of American Government, Background of Political Thought and Practice, American Government in the 19th Century, and Leviathon: American Government in the 20th Century. That last section title should give you a clear idea of Carson's views of government!

The arrangement makes it possible to use the book in sections. You might do the introduction, then use the second section in conjunction with world history studies. The last two sections could be studied in conjunction with U.S. History. Thus, reading the book could be spread out over a couple of years. There are no questions or quizzes with the book, but I suggest that parents and teens read the book together and discuss it. Carson makes little attempt to hide his opinions, and the book is all the more interesting for it. This is one of the books I would put on the "must read" list.

Pricing Information

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Publisher's list price $40

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Instant Key

  • Suitable For: independent study and group reading
  • Audience: grades 11-adults
  • Need For Parent/Teacher Instruction: moderate
  • Prep Time Needed: parent needs to be familiar with which sections to assign
  • Teacher's Manual: N/A
  • Religious Perspective: Christian

Publisher's Info

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