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What You Should Know about Politics... But Don't: A Nonpartisan Guide to the Issues
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What You Should Know about Politics... But Don't: A Nonpartisan Guide to the Issues

really liked it 4.00  ·  Rating details ·  623 ratings  ·  75 reviews
Its a very exciting time in American politics. Voter turnout in primaries and caucuses across the nation has shattered old records. More than ever, in this election year people are paying attention to the issues. But in a world of sound bites and deliberate misinformation and a political scene that is literally colored by a partisan divide--blue vs. red--how does the ...more
Paperback, 313 pages
Published August 6th 2008 by Arcade Publishing (first published August 1st 2008)
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really liked it Average rating 4.00  · 
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Sep 07, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fast, fun overview of an enormous topic. I waffled on the rating for this one, between three and four. It was a "four" for me until I got to her remarks on homeschoolers in the Education chapter. She says, "... greater numbers of Americans either put their children in religious schools or chose to homeschool them. They would prefer not to pay for public education because they don't use or want its services." Ouch. Talk about a wildly erroneous generalization! I'm not saying that there aren't ...more
Jun 17, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, politics
Somewhat outdated. Good summation. Broad range of issues- "I wrote this book to fill a void, the existence of which has been made more apparent by the myriad mudslinging volumes in the Ann Coulter/Michael Moore mold, books that are more about theater than ideas, that have more to do with misplaced hate than thoughtful contemplation of the issues ahead."
Josh Liller
Oct 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: politics
Claims to be a non-partison guide to modern political issues (as of 2008) and delivers. It discusses major issues and where the different parties & groups usually stand and why without trying to say who is right or wrong.
Luis A.
Jun 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked up this book, along with The Everything American Government Book, out of desperation. I had spent most of my life saying that I didn’t care about politics or the news except in the greater context and curation provided in history books. Then one day I woke up to realize that we’re living history and are here to take action or, at the very least, witness the ride. However, whenever I read a news article, I understood no more than 30%. I was missing the blueprint of how government and ...more
Alexandra Cross
Sep 12, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'd recommend this book to anyone around my age. It covered a great deal of political topics, ranging from economy to education. Conrad's writing was very conversational and included more 'I's in it than I would have predicted (not a complaint, I enjoyed her input).

One thing you must note if you choose to read this book...If you do read this, rent (or buy) the most recent edition. The one I rented from the library, and the only one available, was published in 2008. Obama wasn't even president
Susan Emmet
Mar 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent primer for overview of important topics crucial to any sort of understanding of political will and intent for voters.
Naomi Wolf offers an introduction to this edition that ties it to the recent ascendancy of Trump and Company.
I like the way Conrad sets up chapters similarly: bullets, background, a bit of history, bolded key words, presentation of dis/similar points of view.
I like the readability of this book.
I like its coverage: elections, the economy, foreign policy, the military,
Mary Ronan Drew
Dec 18, 2011 rated it it was ok
This book purports to be an unbiased look at politics and to describe what each side says about various issues. It is not nonpartisan. It is biased to the left. And it doesn't even do a very good job of explaining why those on the left believe what they do. A great disappointment.
Jan 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Good review- I'm making an attempt to understand politics better! Would be better if updated to Trump era :)
May 19, 2009 rated it it was ok
I didn't finish this book. The author aims for the pretense of neutrality, and instead presents a point of view so steeped in privilege see seems oblivious to it. The treatment of the material is far too superficial to be considered anything more than an introduction to the topics. Unfortunately some caution would be required even there because some of her explanations are error-ridden. For example, her discussion of gerrymandering gets the math wrong and therefore fails to show how someone who ...more
♥ Kierra ♥
Dec 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
With the 2016 election, I wanted to be more informed about politics. This book helped me to learn about key issues, the history of said issues, and current status of issues. The winning factor in the books title was nonpartisan and it was true to the word. I did not feel the author trying to sway me on an issue. The facts were given and footnotes provided. I think this is a great book for anyone looking to learn more about politics.
Steve Peck
Jun 01, 2014 rated it did not like it
One should be vary wary of any book or person who purports to provide a no partisan review of politics. In the great tradition of Sal Alinski - lying about your position is just all right. Don't waste your time if you hope for real non partisan analysis. I had great hopes for it but wish I never bought it.
Nov 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This did exactly what it said it would do - gave a bipartisan introduction to the basic issues that exist in the political climate (before Trump - I'm sure the next edition will have some interesting changes). It would be an ideal book for every American voter to read as a campaign began. It's too bad that most probably wouldn't be open to doing so - after all, half didn't even vote.
Dec 02, 2008 rated it really liked it
This is a must read. Very readable, explains all aspects of the Federal government in lay language. Written bey the daughter of a former governor of N Dakota (D) and niece of a senator form N Dakota (R)! Balanced, non-partisan.
Kathy Duffy
Aug 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is a broad non-partisan look at current American political issues (taking into account that it takes 12-18 months to get a book published in the mainstream Publishing venues). It looks at the historical (briefly to give context) and then recent in the last 20+ years changes in public views, court decisions, government policy etc. Your political inclinations should not be challenged by this -- each issue is looked at from a multitude of angles and each viewpoint is brought out.
The chapters
John Conquest
Jan 17, 2017 rated it liked it
Published in 2008, so if you are reading this now it will obviously be somewhat dated.

Gives a decent overview of peculiarities of the American political system and how it relates to things like alternative energy and foreign policy. Gives minor background to people like John Edwards and Ross Perot and the impact they had.

Some retrospective comedy can be had. The health care section in particular holds a plethora of gems including how most politicians including Illinois senator Barack Obama
Adam Karapandzich
A decent primer to many aspects of political argument. Conrad does a good a job in remaining non-partisan through the book. If you are largely ignorant in many areas of politics, this is a good starting area.

The book at many times feel disjointed, which is likely due to the fact it is updated and rereleased every 4 years for presidential elections. The problem with that is the bulk of the information is from prior to 2008, which makes it less relevant today. To counter that point, in defense of
J.J. Lair
Oct 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was interesting. I did really have things explained to me. This really breaks down how foreign affairs and the value of the dollar and trade are all related. Some of these subjects just make me annoyed. I had to rehash the things that I read in the past that we still haven't resolved. We think some things are solvable, but Congress is slowing things down. Turns out, these interelaed subjects just aren't that easily solveable.
The dollar isn't just our currency, it's traded around the world.
Reza Amiri Praramadhan
Oct 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-ebooks
A good, solid, helpful book about what matters in US politics. This book takes a view on how Republican and Democrat look on certain issues, and where they differ, and also where they tend to agree with each other. Each issue is explained concisely, which is good for anyone trying to understand the complexities of one of the largest democracies in the world. However, while some issues are still relevant, the others are outdated, which perhaps is answered in later editions, that unfortunately, I ...more
Kyle Harrison
Dec 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
The world is complicated. I’m not sure I’ll understand everything I ought to understand. This book helped realize that. The other issue with learning about politics is that things are constantly changing and shaped by perspective. That makes it difficult to ever feel truly conversant in it. I feel for people like Gary Johnson. Granted, he was running for office and should have known what Aleppo was, but I certainly didn’t, and would have a similar reaction to a lot of questions. Many thanks to ...more
Vicki Gundrum
May 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
Succeeds as a primer on US politics--the parties and the issues of elections, the economy, foreign policy, the military, health care, energy, the environment, civil liberties, culture wars, socioeconomic policy, homeland security, education, trade. History, stakeholders, levers of power are summarized. A newbie to voting--or probably most current voters--could help themselves and the US by understanding the material in this book. Succinct and easy to understand as it covers the ground.
Siamak Attarian
Dec 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book does a good job in covering enough mainstream issues. Each chapter starts with a brief history of the issue and then discusses different perspectives on the matter. All the discussed issues are still under debate in the current political climate. The writer takes each issue back to its roots (sometimes to the American revolution), mentions some landmark cases and finally discusses the current debates. I didn't notice any partisan leaning.
Oct 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the 3rd edition of Conrad's outstanding review of current issues. Previous editions came out in 2008 & 2012 so we may have to wait until 2020 for the next one. What with the rapid pace of events, I'd like to see one every year or two. And because of her highly readable, informative, organized approach, I believe I'll read anything else she writes.
Jun 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I feel this is an important book for Americans to read. The author does a really good job of staying impartial while trying to explain what the typical "Republican & Democrat" think on some of the more touchy topics in politics. As someone who wants to understand where others are coming from but feels uncomfortable bringing up these subjects, it is very helpful.
Lee Kennedy
Jan 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Wanted an overview of how the government works for a refresher, like the 3 branches, positions, etc. It started out with a background on how voting works, which was perfect, but then moved straight into a number of policy issues. Was a great background on those, but wasn't exactly what I was looking for.
It was informative. Word choice slips in and out informal and formal diction—many times weirdly awkward. Not sure about how “completely unbiased” this is, but that’s also something of an unachievable standard, so
Jan 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
It was really good at first, but then some of the things it discussed started to be dull. It was also too short and did not cover some issues fully enough. I would not recommend for an American Government course, but it makes great pleasure reading.
Vikram Krishnamurthy
Sep 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Very well written and covers many current issues
Jun 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
370 pages of mostly surface level stuff - but it covered 13 major topics, and I learned a lot.
Tasha Thomas
Jan 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Great read, extremely informative. Everything that you need to know about political affairs in the US. Well written.
Feb 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love that this gave you soundbites that were easy to digest, but with enough information to teach you something.
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