Political History Book

American Political History
by Donald T. Critchlow

The Founding Fathers who drafted the United States Constitution in 1787 distrusted political parties, popular democracy, centralized government, and a strong executive office. Yet the country’s national politics have historically included all those features. In American Political History: A Very Short Introduction, Donald Critchlow takes on this contradiction between original theory and actual practice. This brief, accessible book explores the nature of the two-party system, key turning points in American political history, representative presidential and congressional elections, struggles to expand the electorate, and critical social protest and third-party movements. The volume emphasizes the continuity of a liberal tradition challenged by partisan divide, war, and periodic economic turmoil.

American Political History: A Very Short Introduction explores the emergence of a democratic political culture within a republican form of government, showing the mobilization and extension of the mass electorate over the lifespan of the country. In a nation characterized by great racial, ethnic, and religious diversity, American democracy has proven extraordinarily durable. Individual parties have risen and fallen, but the dominance of the two-party system persists. Fierce debates over the meaning of the U.S. Constitution have created profound divisions within the parties and among voters, but a belief in the importance of constitutional order persists among political leaders and voters. Americans have been deeply divided about the extent of federal power, slavery, the meaning of citizenship, immigration policy, civil rights, and a range of economic, financial, and social policies. New immigrants, racial minorities, and women have joined the electorate and the debates. But American political history, with its deep social divisions, bellicose rhetoric, and antagonistic partisanship provides valuable lessons about the meaning and viability of democracy in the early 21st century.

ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.


Afghanistan
by Thomas Barfield

Afghanistan traces the historic struggles and the changing nature of political authority in this volatile region of the world, from the Mughal Empire in the sixteenth century to the Taliban resurgence today. Thomas Barfield introduces readers to the bewildering diversity of tribal and ethnic groups in Afghanistan, explaining what unites them as Afghans despite the regional, cultural, and political differences that divide them. He shows how governing these peoples was relatively easy when power was concentrated in a small dynastic elite, but how this delicate political order broke down in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries when Afghanistan’s rulers mobilized rural militias to expel first the British and later the Soviets. Armed insurgency proved remarkably successful against the foreign occupiers, but it also undermined the Afghan government’s authority and rendered the country ever more difficult to govern as time passed. Barfield vividly describes how Afghanistan’s armed factions plunged the country into a civil war, giving rise to clerical rule by the Taliban and Afghanistan’s isolation from the world. He examines why the American invasion in the wake of September 11 toppled the Taliban so quickly, and how this easy victory lulled the United States into falsely believing that a viable state could be built just as easily.

Afghanistan is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand how a land conquered and ruled by foreign dynasties for more than a thousand years became the “graveyard of empires” for the British and Soviets, and what the United States must do to avoid a similar fate.


The National Health Service
by Charles Webster

The foundation of the National Health Service on 5 July 1948 was a momentous development in the history of the United Kingdom. Issues of health care touch the lives of everyone, and the NHS has come to be regarded as the cornerstone of the welfare state and as a model for state-organisedhealth care systems elsewhere. Yet throughout its history, the Service has existed in an atmosphere of crisis. Charles Webster’s political history is an entirely new and original examination of the NHS from its inception through to its management under the first term of the current Labourgovernment, providing the necessary framewrork for assessing its future as we enter the new millennium.

Filibustering
by Gregory Koger

In the modern Congress, one of the highest hurdles for major bills or nominations is gaining the sixty votes necessary to shut off a filibuster in the Senate. But this wasn’t always the case. Both citizens and scholars tend to think of the legislative process as a game played by the rules in which votes are the critical commodity—the side that has the most votes wins. In this comprehensive volume,Gregory Koger shows, on the contrary, that filibustering is a game with slippery rules in which legislators who think fast and try hard can triumph over superior numbers.

Filibustering explains how and why obstruction has been institutionalized in the U.S. Senate over the last fifty years, and how this transformation affects politics and policymaking. Koger also traces the lively history of filibustering in the U.S. House during the nineteenth century and measures the effects of filibustering—bills killed, compromises struck, and new issues raised by obstruction. Unparalleled in the depth of its theory and its combination of historical and political analysis, Filibustering will be the definitive study of its subject for years to come.


Taiwan
by Denny Roy

For centuries, various great powers have both exploited and benefited Taiwan, their designs for this island frequently clashing with the desire of local inhabitants to control their own destiny. Such conflicts have shaped Taiwan’s multiple, and frequently contradictory, identities. Denny Roy contends that Taiwan’s political history is best understood as a continuous struggle for security. Eschewing the usual emphasis on the high politics of the recent era, he offers a comprehensive narrative of the island’s political history from the first Chinese settlements to the Chen Shui-bian presidency. Roy covers the political system constructed by the KMT during the Cold War, the opposition breakthrough, the presidency of Lee Teng-hui, and the DPP presidential victory in March 2000.

Roy’s approach allows him to integrate his understanding of Taiwan’s domestic politics with its foreign affairs?particularly the relations with mainland China. He reveals how the interplay between political forces within and the influence of foreign countries from without has shaped Taiwan. His is a balanced account, incorporating up-to-date coverage and presenting many indigenous voices. Taiwan: A Political History illuminates the origins of the island’s often-troubled domestic and international political situation.


European Feminisms, 1700-1950
by Karen M. Offen

This ambitious book explores challenges to male hegemony throughout continental Europe. It focuses especially on France, but it also offers comparative material on developments in the German-speaking countries and in the smaller European nations and aspiring nation-states. Spanning 250 years, the sweeping coverage extends from Portugal to Poland, Greece to Finland, Ireland to Ukraine, and Spain to Scandinavia—as well as international and transnational feminist organizations.

The study has several objectives. For general readers and those interested primarily in the historical record, it provides a comprehensive, comparative account of feminist developments in European societies, as well as a rereading of European history from a feminist perspective. By placing gender, or relations between women and men, at the center of European politics, where the author argues that it belongs but from which it has long been marginalized, the book aims to reconfigure our understanding of the European past and to make visible a long but neglected tradition of feminist thought and politics.

On another level, by providing a broad and accurate historical analysis, the book seeks to disentangle some misperceptions and to demystify some confusing contemporary debates about the Enlightenment, reason, nature, equality vs. difference, and public vs. private, among others. The author argues that historical feminisms offer us far more than logical paradoxes and contradictions; feminisms are about sexual politics, not philosophy. Feminist victories are not, strictly speaking, about getting the argument right, nor is gender merely “a useful category of analysis”; sexual difference lies at the heart of human thought and politics.


Modern Italy
by Denis Mack Smith

This history of modern Italy began in March 1861 when Count Camillo Cavour proclaimed a united Italian kingdom with the goal of creating a prosperous, liberal new power in Europe. For a country whose ancient heritage had placed it at the center of western culture, this late entry into nationhood and rapid reach for power would bring frequent crisis. In this fully revised edition of his classic history of the country, Denis Mack Smith provides a complete and engaging narrative of the fate of Italy from Risorgimento to the present.
For sixty years after 1861 Italy was governed by a liberal oligarchy under a parliamentary constitution. Italy chose the winning side in the First World War, but the enormous costs of victory revealed social tensions and constitutional weaknesses that prepared the way, after 1920, for Europe’s first fascist dictatorship.
After the painful civil war that followed World War II, Italy rediscovered liberal democracy, and under a new republican regime became one of the major industrialized countries of the world.
First published in 1958 as Italy: A Modern History, the book has been substantially rewritten with a new section on the period after 1945, a new bibliography, new maps, and updated factual appendices. Stylish, clearly written, deeply informed and often controversial, it remains the definitive account for anyone interested in modern Italy.
“. . . an extraordinarily good and concise introduction to the scandals that almost destroyed the Italian Republic.” –Alexander DeGrand, North Carolina State University
“No one will be surprised that in this new edition Mack Smith recounts the recent history of the Republic up to 1996 with the same shrewd authorial eye, both distant and perceptive, the deep knowledge, and the skill that made the older edition of this book a classic.” –Raymond Grew, University of Michigan
Denis Mack Smith is a Fellow of the British Academy and Wolfson College, Oxford, and a foreign member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He has been awarded a dozen literary prizes in Italy and is a Commendatore of the Italian Order of Merit. Among his recent books are Italy and Its Monarchy (1989) and Mazzini (1994).

Political Awakenings
by Harry Kreisler

As a kid, Noam Chomsky handed out the Daily Mirror at his uncle’s newsstand on 72nd Street, inadvertently finding himself in a buzzing intellectual and political hub for European immigrants in New York. Iranian human rights Nobelist Shirin Ebadi and her husband signed their own legal contract, attempting to restore equality to their marriage after the Iranian Revolution effectively erased the legal rights of women. Elizabeth Warren set out to expose those frauds declaring bankruptcy and taking advantage of the system-only to discover, in her research, a very different story of hard-working middle-class families facing economic collapse in the absence of a social safety net. While studying at Oxford, a young Tariq Ali made a bet with a friend that he could work the Vietnam War into every single answer on his final exams. In this rousing, thoughtful, often funny, and always inspiring volume, a diverse and impressive group of thinkers reflect on those formative experiences that shaped their own political commitments. A fascinating new window into the revealing links between the personal and the political, Political Awakenings will engage readers across generations.

Revolutionary America, 1763-1815
by Francis D. Cogliano

The American Revolutiondescribes and explains the crucial events in the history of the United States between 1763 and 1815, when settlers in North America rebelled against British authority, won their independence in a long and bloddy stuggle and created an enduring republic.

Placing the political revolution at the core of the story, this book considers:

* the deterioration of the relationship between Britain and the American colonists
* the Wars of Independence
* the creation of the republican government and the ratification of the United States Constitution
* the trials and tribulations of the first years of the new republic.

The American Revolutionalso examines those who paradoxically were excluded from the political life of the new republic and the American claim to uphold the principle that all men are created equal. In particular this book describes the experiences of women who were often denied the rights of citizens, Native Americans and African Americans. The American Revolutionis an important book for all students of the American past.


Political History of Journalism
by Geraldine Muhlmann

In this new important book, Geraldine Muhlmann provides a comparative history of the rise of modern journalism, from the revolution of the late nineteenth century, with its new concern for facts, through to the present day. Her account is structured around the tension between what she calls the unifying and decentring tendencies in modern journalism – that is, the concern to give readers a truth that is acceptable to all, on the one hand, and the concern to resist dominant representations and give voice to alternative views, on the other.

She illustrates her account with a wide range of case studies, from Sverine, who covered the trial of Dreyfus in late nineteenth-century France, to the great Vietnam War reporters, Seymour M. Hersh and Michael Herr. In between are fascinating new readings of famous figures like George Orwell and Norman Mailer as well as some less well-known writers, such as the great American muckraker, Lincoln Steffens, and the French crusading journalist, Albert Londres.

This historical and comparative account of the rise of modern journalism will be an ideal text for courses in journalism, political communication and media history. Written by an author who believes that journalism is crucial to our modern democracies and that it deserves to be studied with knowledge and care, the book raises serious questions about the role of the reporter and about the sorts of journalism that are possible in the twenty-first century.



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