10th Edition

American Government
Political Development and Institutional Change

ISBN 9781138353046
Published January 7, 2019 by Routledge
664 Pages 160 B/W Illustrations

USD $105.00

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Book Description

How politics in America works today, how it got that way, and how it‚Äôs likely to change through reform‚ÄĒthese are the themes that pervade every chapter of Cal Jillson‚Äôs highly lauded American Government: Political Development and Institutional Change. Even in the midst of current challenges, America‚Äôs past is present in all aspects of the contemporary political system. Jillson uses political development and the dynamics of change as a thematic tool to help students understand how politics works now‚ÄĒand how institutions, participation, and policies have evolved over time to produce the contemporary political environment. In addition, Jillson helps students think critically about how American democracy might evolve further, focusing in every chapter on reform and further change.

New to the 10th Edition

  • Assesses the characteristics and early results of the Trump administration.
  • Covers the 2018 midterm elections and looks ahead to the 2020 presidential race.
  • Explores the political and judicial fights over ballot integrity and gerrymandering.
  • Examines challenges to civil liberties in the wake of Charlottesville, the Muslim ban, and NSA warrantless surveillance.
  • Discusses the MeToo movement in the context of civil rights.
  • Includes important Supreme Court events and decisions including the confirmation of Justice Gorsuch.
  • Presents new material on race, ethnicity, gender, and political participation, especially in the context of social media.
  • Details Republican tax cuts and their likely impact on deficits and debt.
  • Discusses the Trump administration‚Äôs climate change strategy and the December 2017 National Security Strategy of the United States, looking ahead to security challenges in Korea and the Middle East.
  • Updates all data in tables and figures through the 2018 midterms.


In a streamlined presentation, Jillson delivers a concise and engaging narrative to help students understand the complexities and importance of American politics. Along the way, several pedagogical features foster critical thinking and analysis:

  • Key learning objectives at the beginning of every chapter focus students on the central learning objectives.
  • "The Constitution Today" chapter opening vignettes illustrate the importance of conflicting views on constitutional principles.
  • Key terms are defined in the margins on the page where they appear help students study important concepts.
  • Colorful figures and charts help students visualize important information.
  • "Let‚Äôs Compare" boxes analyze how functions of government and political participation work in other countries‚ÄĒnow framed by new critical thinking questions.
  • Reformatted "Pro & Con" boxes bring to life a central debate in each chapter and highlight competing perspectives; new discussion questions in each box prompt students to weigh the different arguments and weigh in.
  • End-of-chapter summaries, suggested readings, and web resources help students master the material and guide them to further critical investigation of important concepts and topics.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1 The Origins of American Political Principles

Chapter 2 The Revolution and the Constitution

Chapter 3 Federalism and American Political Development

Chapter 4 Political Socialization and Public Opinion

Chapter 5 The Mass Media and the Political Agenda

Chapter 6 Interest Groups: The Politics of Influence

Chapter 7 Political Parties: Winning the Right to Govern

Chapter 8 Voting, Campaigns, And Elections

Chapter 9 Congress: Partisanship, Polarization, and Gridlock

Chapter 10 The President: Governing in Uncertain Times

Chapter 11 Bureaucracy: Redesigning Government for the Twenty-First Century

Chapter 12 The Federal Courts: Activism Versus Restraint

Chapter 13 Civil Liberties: Ordered Liberty in America

Chapter 14 Civil Rights: Where Liberty and Equality Collide

Chapter 15 Government, the Economy, and Domestic Policy

Chapter 16 America’s Global Role in the Twenty-First Century



Glossary of Key Terms

Glossary of Cases

Appendix A The Declaration of Independence

Appendix B The Articles of the Confederation ‚ÄÉ549

Appendix C Constitution of the United States

Appendix D Federalist Numbers 10, 51, And 78

Appendix E Partisan Control of the Presidency, Congress, and the Supreme Court


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Cal Jillson is Professor in the Department of Political Science at Southern Methodist University. His recent books include Lone Star Tarnished: A Critical Look at Texas Politics and Public Policy; Texas Politics: Governing the Lone Star State; Pursuing the American Dream: Opportunity and Exclusion Over Four Centuries; Pathways to Democracy: The Political Economy of Democratic Transitions; and The Dynamics of American Politics. Jillson is a frequent media commentator on Texas and national politics.



This text is accessible and well-written with a nice amount of historical/institutional background. It does a very good job of offering students a sense of why we do things one way rather than another in historical terms. I think the author’s clear writing is one of the text’s most attractive features.

Thomas Hoffman, Spring Hill College

The coverage of social movements is especially unique‚ÄĒmost texts I‚Äôve read do not go this far in-depth into the history and tactics of social movements, so important at this time. Also, I‚Äôve found that students often have difficulty remembering court cases. Throughout the text, the author offers additional narrative to court cases that makes them more human and memorable. By providing the stories behind these cases, students are better able to remember them and see their importance in American politics. The same is true of the ‚ÄúConstitution Today‚ÄĚ feature‚ÄĒa nice way to highlight how history shapes our reality now. Too often, students see the Constitution and Founding as trivia, with little connection to how we continue to struggle with the same controversies today. It‚Äôs nice that this feature is revisited in each chapter to drive home the point that the debates surrounding the Constitution over 200 years ago are still important today.

Lauren R. Elliott-Dorans, Ohio University


This terrific textbook will help students get to the bottom of the mysteries of the American government and why it has been so difficult for Americans to work together for the common good. Cal Jillson expertly shows us how our past shapes our current political path, from Black Lives Matter to the legalization of marijuana, voter ID, mass shootings, and the historic election of 2016.

David B. Robertson, University of Missouri-St. Louis

Most of my students are non-majors. They walk into the course expecting to be bored. Jillson’s text helps them get over that. I've considered many textbooks over the years and this is clearly the right one for me.

Keith Dougherty, University of Georgia

Clear, comprehensive, and concise, this is no doubt the best American government text on the market today.

Christopher Malone, Pace University

This book truly stands apart from the vast crowd of introductory American politics textbooks.

Shamira M. Gelbman, Illinois State University

A book that connects the political challenges of today to the political conflicts of the past.

Jonathan Chausovsky, SUNY Fredonia

The ideals that Jillson so thoroughly includes in this text are straight down the middle and do not in any way cater to the right or left, which is a refreshing idea in today’s educational world. An A+ for government classes everywhere!

Drew Mowen, Ft. Scott Community College