Following one of the most contentious and truth-challenged presidential administrations and elections in U.S. history, there has never been a greater need for an American government text like this--evidence-based, critically thoughtful, and contemporary in tone and touch. This text teaches students to think analytically by presenting current political science theories and research in answering the engaging, big questions facing American politics today. It serves as an introduction to the discipline—covering the Constitution, political behavior, formal and informal institutions, and public policy--by reflecting the theoretical developments and types of empirical inquiry conducted by researchers. For introductory courses in American government, this text covers theory and methods as well.

New to the Fourth Edition

  • Provides 2020 election data updates throughout and examines policy implications of the ensuing changes in election laws across the country.
  • Recaps controversial Trump administration policies and looks into the Biden administration’s early days.
  • Offers strategic updates on the Covid-19 pandemic and the resulting economic crisis both in terms of questions of federalism as well as public policy. 
  • Considers the rise of new interest groups and social movements as well as the reckoning with racial injustice.
  • Examines contemporary questions of social justice in light of civil rights and liberties as well as in terms of policy.
  • Covers the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, the battle to confirm her replacement, the addition of Justice Coney Barrett, and the policy implications of the shift in the ideological balance of the Court.
  • For the fourth edition, a new co-author comes to the book with award-winning experience in diversity and teacher education as well as research interests in the presidency, women and politics, and foreign policy.

chapter 1|37 pages

The Basics of Democracy

part Part I|146 pages

The Constitutional Framework

chapter 2|37 pages

The American Constitution

chapter 3|35 pages


chapter 4|34 pages

Civil Liberties

chapter 5|39 pages

Civil Rights

part Part II|241 pages

Connecting Citizens to Government

chapter 6|37 pages

Interest Groups

chapter 7|37 pages

Political Parties

chapter 8|33 pages

The Mass Media and Politics

chapter 9|33 pages

Public Opinion and Political Socialization

chapter 10|64 pages


chapter 11|36 pages

Political Participation and Voting Behavior

part Part III|186 pages

Official Decision Making

chapter 12|47 pages


chapter 13|53 pages

The Presidency

chapter 14|34 pages

The Bureaucracy

chapter 15|51 pages

The Federal Judiciary

part Part IV|26 pages


chapter 16|25 pages

Core Democratic Principles and Public Policy