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text 2016-12-02 11:20
The art of the possible
The Art of the Possible: An Everyday Guide to Politics - Edward Keenan,Julie McLaughlin

An everyday guide to politics.

by Edward Keenan

art by Julie McLaughlin

age range: 10 to 14 years old



You are a politician. This is the approach and reason for this book. Even if you are not old enough to vote, or think you don't need politics, or you choose not to pay attention to politics. Politics is the way we decide as a group how we do things. As a part of a community the decisions your make, or do not make, have an influence in the group. We need politics, and politics needs us. This is why is important to be a good politician, and that means being an informed and active member of the group.


This idea is repeated and explained along the different chapters of the book, and always in a positive way. The point is not to make the reader feel the burden of this responsibility, but understand how politics are the art of the possible. What is politics; how we decide things as a group, how do you make a good argument, and on the other hand how do you listen at other people's arguments, why conflict is good, and when it starts to be bad, how to keep all of this process honest, are some of the questions addressed by the book. The text is very accessible, and the author manages to avoid difficult or "big" words. The only few that are used are very well explained. The chapters include case studies to better illustrate how things work in real life, and at the end of the book there is also a glossary, index, and list of sources. I was surprised by the fresh and hopeful approach of this book. I am glad I crossed paths with it, and plan to buy a copy for my kids soon. Indisputable 5 stars to me.


I received this copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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text 2016-05-23 18:04
I did a thing!
Learn About the United States: Quick Civics Lessons for the Naturalization Test, July 2014 - Citizenship and Immigration Services (U.S.)

This is one reason I have been a bit quiet lately (as well as the Stanley Cup playoffs too of course).


Today I had my Naturalization Test on my way to becoming a US Citizen. AND I TOTALLY NAILED IT!


The oath-taking ceremony is in three weeks and I'm happy and excited and proud to be finally able to vote and play a part in the democracy of the place that has been my home for the last ten years.


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text 2016-04-25 12:31
That's not Fair! Getting to know your rights and Freedoms
That's Not Fair!: Getting to Know Your Rights and Freedoms (CitizenKid) - Danielle McLaughlin,Dharmali Patel

by Danielle S. McLaughlin

illustrated by Dharmali Patel

CitizenKid series

Kids can press

age range: 7 and up



Set in City, this book tells in six short stories how Mayor Moe and the Councillors try to solve the city's problems with new laws, how sometime these new laws have unexpected consequences,  how every single law has an impact in citizen's rights and freedoms granted by democracy, and how difficult can be sometimes know what it's really fair. In a way easy to understand by kids, laws such as freedom of religion, the right to privacy and the right of equal treatment are explained.

Kids are strongly encouraged to think critically each time they think something is unfair, trying to answer questions like "Why was the law made? Will it work? Could there be unexpected results?"


I really loved this book, and think its approach is amazing. Usually topics related to politics and citizenship are not kids' first choice, but I would say "That's not fair!" it's a winner. I'm glad not only I read this book, but I discovered through it the CitizenKid series.


I received this copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.




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review 2013-11-04 21:47
Sex and Citizenship in Antebellum America (Gender and American Culture) - Nancy Isenberg

Isenberg's variation on the political history of the antebellum women's movement seeks to "reconceptualize feminist theory of the nineteenth century by examining ways in which church, state, and family all contributed to the notion of citizenship" (ix). She identifies two major questions addressed in her work: How did feminists frame their understanding of rights within antebellum theories of representation? and How did this struggle over rights incorporate several distinct but overlapping legal and political debates? Using the theories of Habermas and Arendt, she addresses these question on a primarily linguistic basis, examining the evolving discourse that struggled to define and redefine the category of "Citizenship" in its manifold meanings. Although her approach is in some ways anachronistic, it is valuable for its convincing attempt to explore language, discourses, and ideology. This study represents a demand for a more complex and nuanced historiography.

The author's first critique of the historiographic treatment of women's rights movement is her complaint against the undue emphasis that has long been placed on the Seneca Falls Convention and the leadership of Elizabeth Cady Stanton. The privileging of Stanton's role she attributes largely to Stanton's own writings, particularly her History of Woman Suffrage, which through length and primacy of publication has remained an authoritative account of the movement since Stanton's own lifetime; Isenberg argues that this text is not, in fact, an accurate account of the movement's career, but rather an "allegorical interpretation of the past" (2) and that it presents a schema of the movement that locates an undue amount of motive force in Stanton herself, marginalizing the role played by other individuals and organizations.

More generally, Isenberg argues that histories of the women's movement have not paid enough attention to its evolution over time and development of more sophisticated political critiques. Nor, she says, have they sufficiently analyzed the intellectual and political changes of the 18th century which informed the movement, especially Republicanism, and the ways these ideas influenced the separation of male and female spheres. Rather, she chides, scholars tend to treat the unequal status of women as a given, thus lending it a dangerously legitimizing sense of inevitability. Too often, Isenberg suggests, debates over women's rights are presented as simple male/female dichotomy, with women demanding the vote and men refusing. First of all, gender categories cannot be so simply conceived: "the category of 'woman' or 'female nature' was fractured by class and caste differences, which measured men and women in terms of normative assumptions..." More important to her thesis is the argument that the debate was not characterized by demand and rejection but by an ongoing discourse revolving around and developing the question of what constituted full citizenship.

Isenberg here tries to examine this question in the same terms that both feminists and their opponents agreed upon. To be a citizen was to "be above feminine weakness, to be a civic person capable of self-mastery, independent judgment, manly honor and virtue, and freedom from dependence." The contemporary debate on this topic centered on issues of capacity and consent, representation, protection, and the public sphere. Traditional understanding of citizenship focused the risk and sacrifice which a citizen was expected to accept on behalf of the state; women could not.

Despite focusing on the nature and content of nineteenth-century debates, Isenberg often slips into anachronism, failing to distinguish her own modern use of terms such as "rights" and "citizenship" from that of her subjects. She also tends to present the discourses of the women in her study as if they themselves would have been familiar with the theoretical language and concepts that she uses to analyze them. This leads to some odd disjunctions, such as describing a 19th-century feminist as concerned over the "need for ontological certainty." On the other hand, she does do a great job illuminating the intellectual movements of the day, such as Romanticism and Transcendentalism.


Isenberg's the prose style is not as exciting as her ideas, unfortunately. I actually made it about a third of the way through before realizing that I'd read it several years earlier. Recommended for those with a serious interest in the topic rather than casual readers.

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review 2012-10-25 00:00
Catholic Update Guide to Faithful Citizenship
Catholic Update Guide to Faithful Citizenship - Mary C. Kendzia A helpful companion to Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, but I'd still recommend going back to the source material referenced by the footnotes throughout the bishops' document.
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