Tuesday, July 22, 2008

See How They Run: Campaign Dreams, Election Schemes, and the Race to the White House

Goodman, Susan E. 2008. See how they run: Campaign dreams, election schemes, and the race to the White House. Ill. By Elwood H. Smith. New York: Bloomsbury.

A timely book about presidential campaigns, See How They Run is as entertaining as it is informative. This is a primer on campaign politics that explains the basics of presidential elections, as well as the other non-traditional routes to the presidency. (i.e., impeachment, resignation, assassination) The format is engaging and easy to understand, “when we vote for president and vice president, we’re actually voting for a person called an elector. Electors are the ones who elect the president. What’s going on here? How did the writers, or framers, of the Constitution come up with this one? Once again, our Founding Fathers were worried that the American public couldn’t’ or wouldn’t learn about the different candidates. Don’t forget back then people didn’t have TV news or even political parties to supply information. So they gave us electors, who would learn about the candidates and vote for us.” But don’t let this simple explanation lead you to believe that See How They Run glosses over the rough spots. Goodman helps young readers to understand third party politics (“Party Crashers”), election financing and campaigning, (“George Washington ran fro the Virginia state legislature twice and lost twice. The third time was the charm. In 1758, he treated voters to 160 gallons of alcohol and got elected!”), and other more notorious events in presidential campaigning (the Watergate break-in and the famous Boss Tweed, “vote early and often”)

Humorous cartoons by Elwood Smith break up the text and teach political satire. Photos of famous movers, shakers, and candidates are featured as insets, as well as blocks featuring the wisdom of Ben Franklin, “nothing but money is sweeter than honey.”

See How They Run concludes with “A Preachy but True Ending,” a plea for young people to take an interest in the political process.

This should be required reading for 4th grade to adult!

Contains an introduction, five chapters, presidential facts and photos, a glossary, sources and resources, and an index.

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