Encyclopedia of the American Legislative System

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Editorial Reviews

Zom Zoms
Geared to a general audience, this encyclopedia addresses aspects of various U.S. legislative systems, both past and present. Edited by Silbey, a historian at Cornell University and editor of "The Congress of the United States, 17891989" (Carlson, 1991), it comprises 91 signed, authoritative articles written by historians and political scientists. The articles are topically arranged in six parts. The first of these covers the American legislative system in historical context, from colonial assemblies and territorial legislatures to the contemporary Congress and modern state legislatures. This is followed by sections on legislative recruitment, personnel, and elections; structures and processes; behavior; public policy; and role within the political system. Among the interesting topics covered are "Legislative Records and Publications", "Pressure Groups and Lobbies", "Legislative Ethics", and "Legislatures and Slavery" Articles range in length from 10 to more than 30 pages. For many topics, separate entries are necessarily provided for federal, state, and local legislatures, such as "Congress, the Executive, and War Powers"; "State Legislatures and Policy Innovators"; and "Local Legislative Institutions". Other issues ("Legislative Work Load", "Media Coverage of Legislatures") are treated in single essays that may contain sections on all types of legislative bodies. Statistical tables and charts are included where appropriate. Each article concludes with a brief bibliographic essay. "See also" references to related articles are given, but without page or volume numbers. The analytical 75-page index in the third volume is quite detailed but does not list the main entries. Thus, the reader must consult the table of contents (of nearly 100 articles) to identify page numbers of cross-referenced articles Overall quality and readability is high, maintaining the standard set by other encyclopedias in the Scribner American Civilization series. Authors' approaches vary, of course, resulting in different emphases among what could have been similarly structured entries. The article "Women in Legislatures", for instance, is 10 pages in length, focuses primarily on the role and characteristics of women in state legislatures in the last couple of decades, and gives an overview of the issues and findings in this area. The article on African American legislators is twice as long and goes into greater detail about both congressional and state levels, including demographic analyses and an in-depth look at congressional power in terms of the committee assignments of African American members of the 102d Congress. Individuals are named and relevant laws and cases are cited, and several tables and charts supplement the text With its comprehensive coverage, The "Encyclopedia of the American Legislative System" is recommended for both academic and public libraries.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780684192437
  • Publisher: Cengage Gale
  • Publication date: 2/1/1994
  • Pages: 1738
  • Product dimensions: 9.36 (w) x 11.75 (h) x 5.04 (d)

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