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American Government:  OpenStax [College]

American Government: OpenStax [College]

American Government is designed to meet the scope and sequence requirements of the single-semester American Government course. The title includes innovative features to enhance student learning, including Insider Perspective features and a Get Connected module that shows students how they can get engaged in the political process. The book provides an important opportunity for students to learn the core concepts of American Government and understand how those concepts apply to their lives and the world around them. American Government is published under a Creative Commons 4.0 International license.




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Stephen Goggin
Stephen Goggin (Faculty)
1 year ago

After providing many STEM-related introductory textbooks for several years, OpenStax has finally produced an introductory American Politics textbook, and on close inspection, it is very good. This book is more comprehensive in the topics it engages than most introductory courses (the addition of separate foreign + domestic policy chapters is nice) and contains the depth necessary on nearly every topic. Like many costly textbooks from a variety of publishers, this book is not perfect. But, it is free, comprehensive, and contains a variety of learning aids that make it perfectly useable as the core text in a course that serves as an introduction to American politics.

It is available for free as both a high- & low-res PDF, EPUB, iBooks, through an online viewer, and in print as either a paperback or hardback for roughly $30/$50. No matter students' technological sophistication or resources, it can easily be accessed. While many seem to tend towards downloading a static format, OpenStax regularly pushes updates to content (for example, a post-2016 election update) as well as fixing minor errors throughout the textbook, so it is useful to access the dynamic content available via the web. I have yet to find a typographical or content error in the book.

The ordering and organization of the content of the book is natural and mirrors many of the existing texts on this topic. While an instructor may wish to customize the content of the book, little customization appears necessary, as at most, it requires simply reordering a few chapters depending on one's preferences. The many graphic examples and tables/figures throughout the book are on par with some of the better expensive textbooks out there, and pair nicely with the book's prose.

I will be adopting the book this fall, and supplementing with a variety of content from academic journals and journalistic resources. In sum, this textbook is a great example of what happens when OERs are well-funded by non-profits. The quality, accessibility, and content are incredible, and on par with textbooks that are $100+.

Used in course? Yes