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5.0 out of 5 stars An Illuminating Reading
A very illustrative portrait of the political battles in America. It's also an enjoyable reading from the begining to the end. Authors know what they talking about.
Published on April 17, 2012 by EnriqueW

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17 of 27 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The poor authors
They had a great idea for a book on politics beyond the Reign of W, spending the past couple of years assiduously putting together a slew of statistics to back up their professional analysis of current American politics.

Then Karl Rove's brilliant strategy imploded, and the electorate turned on the administration, pretty well across the board, though with some...
Published on April 9, 2007 by John S.


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5.0 out of 5 stars An Illuminating Reading, April 17, 2012
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A very illustrative portrait of the political battles in America. It's also an enjoyable reading from the begining to the end. Authors know what they talking about.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good description of one part of a much wider problem, December 10, 2008
By 
The Black brothers, both professors of political science at different southern universities, have done an excellent job of describing one of America's current ills -- partisanship -- with excellent statistics and research.

They have hit on a major flaw with American democracy and describe it accurately. Politics has become "ideologically charged" and point out that America's "unstable power politics generates relentlessly bitter conflicts over a huge range of domestic and foreign policies and motivates activists in both parties to compete fiercely all the time." I see the venom daily -- activists from both sides cutting at each other's throats without being able to compromise. They write: "the incessant personal attacks mean that especially thick skins are necessary for America's leading politicians." They're right.

They map out partisanship: Democrats controlling the Pacific & Northeast, Republicans controlling the South and Mountain states, with the midwest up for grabs. That partisan forces are evenly balanced means "ferocious competition" as they rightly point out, leading to a "permanently competitive situation." This doesn't bode well for the future of American democracy, which requires tolerance and compromise to function effectively.

Thomas W. Sulcer
author of "The Second Constitution of the United States"
(free on web -- google title above + sulcer)
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17 of 27 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The poor authors, April 9, 2007
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John S. (Seattle, WA United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
They had a great idea for a book on politics beyond the Reign of W, spending the past couple of years assiduously putting together a slew of statistics to back up their professional analysis of current American politics.

Then Karl Rove's brilliant strategy imploded, and the electorate turned on the administration, pretty well across the board, though with some demographics more strongly than others. So ... it's tough to extrapolate the pre-implosion data (pre-2004) to 2008 and beyond.

The book went to press after the 2006 elections, and the authors do mention the results in the Foreward. However, I'm deducting two stars: one because it reads like a college statistics thesis in large part, and another because the data is (to some extent, debateable how much) not relevant for the next political cycle.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Sociology of Political Power - How It Is Won or Lost, February 20, 2009
A thoughtful and insightful analysis of the battle for political power, through a potent regional lens. Earle and Merle Black are two of our nation's top political analysts, particularly on southern politics. This book is a political junkie's delight. If you have ever managed, worked on, voted in or followed a political campaign, you'll have a clearer understanding of how changing demographics, regional concerns, and evolving party ideas affect the balance of power after you read this book.
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12 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Stats freaks, you know who you are, take a personal day, crunch on., April 14, 2007
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Well Read (Twin Cities, MN USA) - See all my reviews
Politics in the U.S. for the past several decades has had the flavor of a pendulum; a slow oscillation driven mostly by indifferent people voicing their disgust with alternate messages. That model has been soundly retired. There are millions of voters, thousands of polling places, hundreds of districts and anyone with a basic knowledge of a spreadsheet program can keep a finger on trends and patterns to a greater extent than the highest paid consultants of just a dozen years ago. The Blacks speak this language; the controlled variable graph cluster.

They divide the country into the South, the Northeast, the Pacific Coast and the Midwest. They examine race, gender, religious affiliation and ethnicity. The patterns they show are stark. The campaigns will know well where to spend their money or they will fail.

The issues have not lost their importance. But the well-staffed candidate will no longer waste a dime of ad money in the wrong districts. Certain places, certain populations present opportunity. The rest of us will just have to see if we can surprise these hired guns and their finely tuned predictions.

Many will complain that the populist notions of participatory democracy have fallen by the wayside; that Tommy Jefferson is spinning in his grave. But it bears pointing out that "participatory" derives from an active verb. Voter turnouts for TV reality shows tower over those of even general elections. Are people truly disaffected with the political experience or just bored? If they are disappointed with the entertainment value of being asked to overthrow their government every November, they'll get no sympathy from candidates and their consultants as they apply the strategies implied by "Divided America."

comments invited
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars These Authors have picked ONLY the low Hanging Fruit, March 7, 2010
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This is another easy to write political book that rehashes what we already know. It mines its content from everything that is above board, quantifiable and palpably obvious in American politics, giving undue prominence to these more obvious things and leaving the non-obvious for the reader to wonder about, and to ferret out for himself.

What about all of the weighty things that lie below the water line that drive the apparent ideological division? How can this book be taken seriously when these things all go unmentioned and untouched? By leaving the subtler and more nuanced aspects untouched, this book begs the question raised in the counter argument: Is it not the things that lie below the water line that really matter rather than the more obvious regional ideological political grids discussed and so carefully parsed here?

But even if this counter argument did not hold, is this really the kind of political book that we need at a time when it is difficult to discern a difference between the two major political parties? When the influence of corporate power has so fundamentally corrupted and changed the American political landscape that our system is hardly any longer recognizable as a functioning democracy? Is it not precisely these things that drive the ideological division that the authors have isolated as the end product of their analysis?

What I was hoping for was a more in-depth, more nuanced analysis of what ails the American body politic rather than this "facile quantitative survey" foisted off as serious political analysis, a survey that only skims the surface of everything that is patently obvious and that we already know. And which, even if we did not know it, and even if it were not obvious, would pretty much be irrelevant in any case. [What is the dependent variable of this analysis?]

This book leaves everything that is meaningful in the American political process untouched and unexamined. And here I mean the things that lie in the undercurrents, such as all of the machinations behind the scenes - the obscene amounts of money that exchanges hands in the backrooms as a requirement for politicians to get elected for instance (that virtually drives American politics and policies); the warping effects of Gerrymandering of Congressional districts that leave as many as 80% of the incumbents in any given election cycle unchallenged; the Seniority system that rewards and gives a great deal of control to Southern reactionary politicians; corporate influence that corrupts American politicians by making them beholden to the corporate agenda for campaign contributions; the decimation of the labor movement and the countervailing influence it used to have against the increasingly reactionary juggernaut of the military/prison/medical industrial complex; and the most salient element in American politics since the Civil War, white racism. It is these precisely things that define what is ideological in the American political process, yet they are virtually missing in action? Ideology cannot just be a free-floating independent variable, can it?

Do the regional grid lines that these authors have so carefully parsed really trump all of these more nuanced aspects that lie in the undercurrents of the American political process? And even if they do not, should they not also at least be mentioned (if only in passing) as important elements in the spectrum of American political power?

It is the nuances and the subtleties that lie in the undercurrents that make up American ideology and that make the American political machine go around, not the obvious elements (the low hanging fruit) this book focuses on. Two stars
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Divided America: The Ferocious Power Struggle in American Politics
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