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To a degree that may surprise many Americans, U.S. politics and government are quite atypical in the world. The American Anomaly systematically analyzes and explains the U.S. political system by way of comparison with other countries, especially other industrialized democracies. It is organized into three sections on the constitutional order, governmental institutions, and political participation, comprising eleven chapters that parallel the organization of many American politics courses. Extensive case studies in each chapter draw on all the major regions of the world, with examples from dozens of political systems. It is an ideal supplemental text for a college student to truly understand American politics in comparative perspective.
About the Author:
Raymond A. Smith is Adjunct Assistant Professor of Political Science at Columbia University and New York University
"Comparison is at the heart of political science, yet many American politics courses are taught as if the world ended at the U.S. border. For instructors who want to break out of this parochialism, The American Anomaly is a godsend. Clear and concise yet wide-ranging, The American Anomaly fits neatly into an introductory course, providing a perspective that will add depth to every facet of the class."
—Thomas F. Burke, Wellesley College
"The American Anomaly is a rare introductory text that enables students to explore domestic governmental institutions and political processes from a global perspective. The book is conceptually rich, meticulously documented, and well-written and offers an indispensable framework for a core U.S. politics or government course."
—Corey Cook, University of San Francisco
"Smith adroitly situates the American political system in comparative perspective, offering a refreshing take on U.S. government and politics that invites readers to reflect critically on the extent of American exceptionalism and the United States’ international status. Its well-selected case studies, engaging discussions of alternative institutional arrangements, and evenhanded considerations of the pros and cons of the United States’ political practices make The American Anomaly an ideal supplement for American politics courses."
—Shamira M. Gelbman, Illinois State University
Raymond A. Smith is Adjunct Assistant Professor of Political Science at Columbia University and New York University and is the author of Importing Democracy: Ideas from around the World to Reform and Revitalize U.S. Politics and Government.
The Constitutional Order
The American Nation, State, and Regime 3
The U.S. Constitution 19
Separation of Powers 47
The Institutions of Government
The Executive Branch: The Presidency and the Bureaucracy 69
The Legislative Branch: The Two Houses of Congress 89
The Judicial Branch: The Supreme Court and the Federal Courts 107
Voting and Elections 123
Political Parties and Interest Groups 143
Unconventional Political Participation 163
Public Opinion and Political Values 177
Conclusion: The American Anomaly on Balance 195
For Further Study: A Brief Bibliographic Essay on American Exceptionalism 201