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Playing Politics: The Nightmare Continues Paperback – October 23, 1997


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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

This short, assessible work is for anyone interested in understanding the basic laws or dynamics of politics by engaging in safe (risk-free) political activity (as opposed to real-world politics). The author (political science, Trinity Coll., Dublin) has assembled a collection of games he created over 20 years of teaching. Field-tested with students in five different countries, the games move the players from basic political quandaries (individual survival in a competitive environment) to more sophisticated ones (committee policy-making) to team-oriented activities based on traditional games like soccer that mimic the conflicts and motivations of nation-states. The author supplies the rules, suggests the materials needed (dice, cards, money, etc.), and offers words of encouragement, but the fun and learning are left to the players. Not simply to be read, these games work must be played to be appreciated, and anyone can play. Recommended for all public libraries.?Thomas J. Baldino, Wilkes Univ., Pa.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.

About the Author


About the Author:
Michael Laver is Professor and Head of the Department of Political Science at Trinity College, Dublin. His previous publications include Invitation to Politics, Cabinet Ministers and Parliamentary Government, and Making and Breaking Governments: Government Formation in Parliamentary Democracies.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (October 23, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 019285321X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192853219
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.5 x 7.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,803,993 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By E. T. Veal on January 26, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Mixing rules for about a dozen games, observations on parallels between game playing and real world politics, propaganda for the glories of Proportional Representation, and punk-leftist atmospherics, "Playing Politics" is a strange brew indeed. Imagine a feverish reverie in which Sid Sackson, Al Gore and Hunter Thompson merge into a single figure, and you will have about the right idea.
The games hold the book together and are the only reason for buying it. There are many better treatises on political behavior, and one who is so inclined can read Thompson without an intermediary. There are also better collections of original games, but this one, though uneven, is not bad. It is particularly noteworthy for filling the neglected niche for "strategic" (non-luck, non-Trivial Pursuit) party games. (I can't think of a previous good example of that genre except for Sid Sackson's "Haggle".)
Several of the rules sets smell of classroom exercises and would sink any party quickly, but others look like they could be fun with adequate preparation. The most promising are "Agenda" (based on manipulating procedural rules to gain substantive ends; I "play-tested" a variant at a science fiction convention, and it went over quite well), "Coalition Poker" and "Killer Darts". "Candidate" is a possibility for a very casual evening, while a more serious crowd may like "Elections" and "Coalitions" (or their combined version, where winning requires skill at both winning office and getting the most out of it). "Coalition Soccer" is an interesting concept but probably can't be played, if only due to the shortage of triangular fields.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 14, 1999
Format: Paperback
I bought a used copy of the 1979 edition of this book in 1982 and have wanted to buy extra copies of it ever since to give to friends who want to understand how different structures of voting and political deal-making affect who wins and who loses. For example, the book shows why forms of democratic politics inherently reward candidates who make vague promises over candidates who announce specific policy intentions. Buy it!
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 10, 1999
Format: Paperback
This work is both a useful resource for those using game theory to understand politics and for those who are simply looking for better games to play (including killer darts, three-team soccer, poker without cards, etc.) Excellent!!
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