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Citizenship in the American Republic, Brian L. Fife

Reviewed by Robin A. Harper

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Bookshelves across the country are increasingly crammed with books about how democracy is dying or otherwise unsalvageable. Brian L. Fife's Citizenship in the American Republic counters this trend and cries for shelf space to remind us that democracies require a knowledgeable and engaged citizenry. Fife's slim volume is a problem-solving book, responding to incessant complaints that the general public (and college students especially!) do not know or understand the institutions of American governance or how politics works in the United States. At the same time, the citizenry feels stymied and depressed by their inability to enact change. Fife provides a primer on civics and civic action to counter those complaints, explaining how to engage and provoke policy change.

Fife's book is a welcome substitute for bloated, overpriced, unpurchased, and often unread textbooks. Each of the eight chapters provides a concise history, contemporary exposition of the topic, why the issue matters for citizenship in a republic, a critique of the issue, and online resources for additional information and guidance for students' research. The tables, graphs, and boldface text to develop vocabulary could be useful teaching tools. The book is aimed at college students in introductory American government classes and advanced high school students studying Americ

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