Politics at the state and local level has never been more interesting than in our "devolutionary" age. This popular text is the most concise, readable, and current introduction to the field. Now in its ninth edition, the book keeps its focus on the varied and changing political and economic environments in which state and local governments function, and their strengths and weaknesses in key areas of public policy. The text is enlivened by boxed sections that relate individual experiences or highlight particular issues and developments. Topics covered in this edition include the drive toward devolution in the federal system; fiscal constraints; political accountability; affirmative action; majority-minority districts; and changing approaches to welfare, education, land use, and law enforcement.