Saturday, November 20, 2010

Brush Up Your Civics

During this year's election season, I found that there were a lot of things about government and the election process that I didn't know.

Because I'm out of college now and working a full-time job, I don't have time to take political science classes to brush up on the civics lessons that I should have learned in school -- or did learn and just plain forgot.

So in order to fill that knowledge gap in time for me to vote, I went to the library in search of a book that would help me understand how U.S. civics work and not put me to sleep.

I checked out a book called "The Everything American Government Book" by Nick Ragone.

Upon first glance, it looked user-friendly with clear subject headings, chapters that weren't too long and margins that were wide enough that the book didn't look too intimidating to read. That last factor is especially important because I'm not a fast reader and I would be reading about government (snore).

But, surprisingly, I did not fall asleep while reading this book.

Ragone starts from the beginning by explaining how the United States formed its government and why. He goes on to break down the articles in the Constitution and what each of them establishes. He then does the same for the Bill of Rights.

Ragone then goes on to explain the function of each branch of federal, state, and local government, and then he concludes with how citizens can get involved.

He also touches on other subjects in chapters called "The Media", "Presidential Primaries and Elections" and "The Federal Budget".

The appendix includes the Declaration of Independence, Constitution of the United States of America and a brief timeline of landmark events in the history of U.S. government.

Before reading this book, I would look at my ballot and wonder what the State Treasurer does, or what the Secretary of State does. After reading this book, I now have a better understanding of what those and other job functions are for federal, state, and local government officials.

I think this book would be a great addition to any classroom or personal library because it contains a lot of valuable information that a lot of Americans -- young and old -- don't know and should be aware of in order to be well-informed citizens. I believe it will help readers better understand how government works in the U.S.

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