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America the Unusual

3.54  ·  Rating details ·  97 Ratings  ·  13 Reviews
Kingdon explores how the American polity is different from that of other countries - particularly other Western democracies - examining just how this uniqueness came about. It invites both introductory and advanced students to appreciate the roots and limits of American exceptionalism, and to recognize the profound importance of current debates over the government's role i ...more
Paperback, 111 pages
Published August 15th 1998 by Wadsworth Publishing Company (first published 1998)
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Sep 04, 2014 rated it did not like it
America the Unusual is without a doubt one of the most boring books I’ve ever read. Now, granted, I did read this for one of my college courses, so it is a “school book.”

Unfortunately, this book tries to be so many things that it is not. It attempts to compare the US government with foreign governments around the globe. Now, if the book had done this successfully, it might have been more interesting. Nonetheless, this book is too repetitive, dry, and dull for me to recommend it to anyone wantin
Dec 16, 2007 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I liked this book alot and my review is probably closer to 3.5 stars than 3. As someone not native to the US I had quite a few "lightbulb" moments and for that reason I found it valuable. That said, it's not perfect and though Kingdon's focus is on "America the Unusual" there's alot of the same theme of "America the Exceptional" and I couldn't help thinking that America is exceptional/unusual but so is every other country.
Apr 14, 2007 rated it really liked it
I read this for one of my classes and it was a quick read. I enjoyed it because Kingdon talks a lot about the unique historical ideology of the United States, which I had studied for my senior thesis in undergrad. It was a very nice review of something that took up a significant portion of a year of my life. It was also interesting to see how Kingdon connected this ideology to America's "unusual" political system and structure.
Sep 03, 2007 rated it liked it
This book is incredibly repetitive. It's the old "tell 'em what you're going to say, say it, tell 'em what you said" academic ideal taken to an extreme. But I learned a lot, and thought it was worth reading.
Oct 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
Just finished "America the Unusual" by John Kingdon. I really enjoyed this 100 page book in which Kingdon describes how America is fundamentally different from other industrialized countries, works through various theories about why, and discusses various pros and cons. -- great food for thought
Alex Brown
Jul 23, 2010 rated it really liked it
This book deals with one of my favorite concepts - path dependence. Kingdon uses history and sociology to explain how America operates politically. Will definitely change your perspective on things like taxation and personal rights.
Sep 03, 2007 rated it did not like it
Rehash of all the reasons why American government is so distinctive. Snoozefest. If you've ever taken a Comparative Government class, there won't be much in this book that you'll find new or interesting. At 100 pages, it's still too long.
Jan 25, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This is a great little book that simply explains how unusual Americans and our society is when compared with other western industralized countries.
Sep 20, 2010 rated it liked it
Interesting ideas but very repetitive.
Natalie Eberts
Immigrant/self-selecting pool argument
Rachel Feinstein
Nov 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A must-read for anyone interested in why America is the way it is.
Jun 23, 2013 rated it did not like it
Shelves: noooo
yea, didn't finish it. it was horrible
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John Wells Kingdon (born 1940) is Professor Emeritus and was Acting Chair of Political Science (1989-1990 when the Chair, Jack L. Walker, was on leave) at the University of Michigan. He is a graduate of Oberlin College and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and was a Guggenheim fellow. He resides in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
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