If you want students to really understand the concept of power, moving beyond a survey book's quick discussion of Laswell's "who gets what and how," Muir's thoughtful Freedom in America might be the book for you. Exploring the words and ideas of such thinkers as Madison, Jefferson, Hamilton, and Tocqueville, Muir discusses the nature and limits of three types of power-coercive, reciprocal, and moral-and then uses this framework to explain how American political institutions work.
If looking for an alternative to a long survey text-or itching to get students grappling with The Federalist Papers or Democracy in America with more of a payoff-Muir's meditation on power and personal freedom is a gateway for students to take their study of politics to the next level. His inductive style, engaging students with well-chosen and masterfully written stories, lets him draw out and distill key lessons without being preachy. Read a chapter and decide if this page turner is for you.
PART ONE: FREEDOM AND POWER Anarchy Coercive Power Tyranny The Police Power The American Constitution The Declaration of Independence Tocqueville and Marx Reciprocal Power Moral Power Demagoguery Social Pluralism Political Democracy PART TWO: INSTITUTIONS OF FREEDOM The Presidency The Coercive Power of the Presidency The Presidency's Reciprocal and Moral Powers Legislatures as Schools Congress as Defender of Freedom The Supreme Court as Freedom's Protector The Moral Power of the Courts Political Parties: Machines, Coalitions, Churches American Newspapers and Ideas Free-Market Capitalism The Moral Effects of Taxation Federalism and Freedom Part PART THREE: AMERICAN SOCIETY We the People The American Electorate Tocqueville's Warnings Equality Racial Equality Americans and Foreign Relations The Democratic Vision