How Your Government Really Works: A Topical Encyclopedia of the Federal Government

How Your Government Really Works: A Topical Encyclopedia of the Federal Government

How Your Government Really Works: A Topical Encyclopedia of the Federal Government

How Your Government Really Works: A Topical Encyclopedia of the Federal Government

Synopsis

The U.S. government is an ever-more-complex system that few American citizens comprehend in any detail. Even some of its most basic operations, seemingly clear in concept, are in reality intricate and obscure. Although textbooks explain how the government is supposed to work in theory, they don't reveal how it actually works in practice. This book offers a concise and objective explanation of government operations, mapping the federal government's branches, departments, agencies, corporations, and quasi-official bodies--and the bureaucracies that support them. The authors effectively bridge the gap between the government's ideal, balanced structure, laid out in the Constitution, and its actual institutionalized form today, making this a superb resource for students and citizens at large.

Excerpt

The purpose of this book is to provide a concise but clear explanation of how the U.S. federal government operates. This is accomplished by first providing the reader with a historical outline of how the government was founded and why it was structured as it was. The reader is then given an account of the government’s contemporary structure, specifically outlining and defining the roles of its three branches. This account includes detailed descriptions of the roles of the president, the Congress, and the Supreme Court, as well as of the many employees of the three branches. Throughout the book, the relationship of the federal government to the state governments is discussed, providing a holistic view of the governing process.

The reader is also provided with detailed descriptions of processes critical to maintaining the U.S. government. These include the presidential and congressional election processes, the appointment process for selecting federal judges, and the process the government employs to establish and maintain the federal budget. Foreign and domestic policy also receive sustained attention: these areas are addressed to explain how the U.S. government maintains its infrastructure while acting as a leading member of the international community. Among the topics discussed in these areas are immigration, equal rights, foreign aid, humanitarian assistance, and treaties.

Th is book also provides supporting materials to foster the reader’s understanding of the aforementioned areas. The book’s historical perspective is enhanced by a timeline of events that have shaped the U.S. government in terms of its structure, laws, and policies; the entries presented were carefully chosen to cover areas critical to explaining the various functions and roles of the government. In addition to the timeline the reader may consult a glossary of key definitions critical to understanding government operations, an explanation of how to read government laws and court cases, and numerous other appendixes that supplement the book’s chapters with such research resources as an annotated list of helpful Web sites; organizational charts; and the texts of the U.S. Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. Also among the appendixes are lists of presidents; Supreme Court justices; independent government agencies, commissions, boards, and corporations; and U.S. embassies abroad. Charts, figures, graphs, photographs, and tables throughout the book provide visual aids to enhance the information contained in the text.

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