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Get Involved: Books on Civic Engagement

Civic engagement encompasses political and nonpolitical actions that address issues and concerns in our community. Read up on ways to participate in civic life as we ramp up to a new election cycle in the coming year. 


Become America : Civic Sermons on Love, Responsibility, and Democracy by Eric Liu
What does it mean to be an engaged American in today's divided political landscape, and how do we restore hope in our country? In a collection of "civic sermons" delivered at gatherings around the nation, popular advocate for active citizenship Eric Liu takes on these thorny questions and provides inspiration and solace in a time of anger, fear, and dismay over the state of the Union.

Electoral Dysfunction : A Survival Manual for American Voters by Victoria Bassetti
An eye-opening, fact-filled companion to the forthcoming PBS documentary starring political satirist and commentator Mo Rocca, Electoral Dysfunction illuminates a broad array of issues, including the Founding Fathers' decision to omit the right to vote from the Constitution--and the legal system's patchwork response to this omission; the battle over voter ID, voter impersonation, and voter fraud; the foul-ups that plague Election Day, from ballot design to contested recounts; the role of partisan officials in running elections; and the anti-democratic origins and impact of the Electoral College. The book concludes with a prescription for a healthy voting system by Heather Smith, president of Rock the Vote. Published in the run-up to the 2012 election, Electoral Dysfunction is for readers across the political spectrum who want their votes to count.

Essential Supreme Court Decisions : Summaries of Leading Cases in U.S. Constitutional Law by John R Vile
Revised and now in its 16th edition, Essential Supreme Court Decisions: Summaries of Leading Cases in U.S. Constitutional Law is the most up-to-date and historically thorough guide to the American Supreme Court's most monumental rulings available today. It proves an indispensable resource for students, lawyers, and anyone interested in our nation's Constitution, and the decisions that continue to shape, define, and challenge it.

Give Us the Ballot : The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America by Ari Berman
On the fiftieth anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, a riveting and alarming account of the continuing battle over Americans' right to vote.

Necessary Trouble : Americans in Revolt by Sarah Jaffe
A narrative chronicle of the political uprisings, labor demonstrations and peaceful protests that have helped America to recover from the 2008 financial crisis details how the Tea Party, the Occupy Wall Street movement and workers in and out of labor unions have challenged the nation's power holders to advance real-life improvements.

Reclaiming the Petition Clause : Seditious Libel, "Offensive" Protest, and the Right to Petition the Government for a Redress of Grievances by Ronald J. Krotoszynski
Since the 2004 presidential campaign, when the Bush presidential advance team prevented anyone who seemed unsympathetic to their candidate from attending his ostensibly public appearances, it has become commonplace for law enforcement officers and political event sponsors to classify ordinary expressions of dissent as security threats and to try to keep officeholders as far removed from possible protest as they can. Thus without formally limiting free speech the government places arbitrary restrictions on how, when, and where such speech may occur.

The Civically Engaged Reader : A Diverse Collection of Short Provocative Readings on Civic Activity by Adam Davis and Elizabeth Lynn
The Civically Engaged Reader assembles more than forty provocative and diverse readings that range across literature, philosophy, and religion. These selections invite reflection on all kinds of civic-minded activities--from giving and serving to leading and associating--and on the vital connections between thought and service.

Uninformed : Why People Know So Little About Politics and What We Can Do About It by Arthur Lupia
Citizens sometimes lack the knowledge that they need to make competent political choices, and it is undeniable that greater knowledge can improve decision making. But we need to understand that voters either don't care about or pay attention to much of the information that experts think is important. Uninformed provides the keys to improving political knowledge and civic competence: understanding what information is important to others and knowing how to best convey it to them

We Are the Ones We Have Been Waiting for : The Promise of Civic Renewal in America by Peter Levine
In this book, Levine offers an original theory of civic engagement, informed by political philosophy and practical experiments. He critically examines public policies that have discounted citizenship and corrupted the relationship between citizens and the state. He assembles evidence that recent efforts to renew citizenship have engaged at least one million Americans and have made tangible improvements in communities and institutions. He ends with a strategy to turn the scattered efforts at civic engagement into a broad movement for civic renewal that will tackle America's most serious social problems.

Where Did You Get This Number? : A Pollster's Guide to Making Sense of the World by Anthony Salvanto
The elections and surveys director for CBS News presents a fast-paced, illuminating tour through the world of polling and elections to reveal what they actually say about today's America.


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