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Why People Don't Trust Government

2.5 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0674940574
ISBN-10: 0674940571
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Editorial Reviews

Review

[Why People Don't Trust Government], and its subject matter, are being taken seriously in the highest political circles on both sides of the Atlantic. Nye was among a group of American experts led by Hillary Clinton who recently came to Britain for a seminar on the book attended by, among others, Tony Blair, who left clutching a copy. Nye could hardly be better qualified for his subject. As well as studying government, he has practised it, serving for two years (1977-79) as undersecretary of state for security assistance, science and technology during the Carter administration and then in two posts under Clinton, first as Chairman of the National Intelligence Council and then (1994-95) at defence. (Huw Richards Times Higher Education Supplement)

How many Harvard professors does it take to answer the nagging question of why trust in government has been declining for three decades. About a dozen, apparently! And it is surely quite an accomplishment. Bringing together essays in economics, sociology, history, and political science, Why People Don't Trust Government should fascinate anyone who is concerned about the quality and future of American politics. (Alan K. Simpson, U.S. Senator, Retired, Wyoming)

This book is the best single exploraton of a disturbing phenomenon in American life: a persistent, long-term decline in people's confidence in government. By placing more than a dozen possible explanations under a microscope, the authors have not only sorted out the most likely causes of the decline, but have also formulated a strong agenda for future research. For those seeking to adapt our governmental institutions to a third industrial revolution, as we must, this book provides invaluable understandings. (David Gergen, Editor-at-Large U.S. News and World Report)

The "consent of the governed" is a fine balance between informed skepticism about politicians, and citizen trust in the political system. Too much trust grants politicians too much power; too little disables the body politic. This timely book carefully diagnoses the causes and consequences of eroding trust in government and it stimulates and prepares readers to think seriously about the proper role of government and citizens in America. (Sam Nunn, U.S. Senator, Retired, Georgia)

This is an important book about an important question: Why do Americans distrust their national government more today than they did three decades ago?...[This] volume is likely to be the benchmark book for future studies of dissatisfaction with government...This is the first of several publications that will report results of a multiyear research program, The Visions Project, being undertaken by the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. (E.C. Dreyer Choice)

Review

How many Harvard professors does it take to answer the nagging question of why trust in government has been declining for three decades. About a dozen, apparently! And it is surely quite an accomplishment. Bringing together essays in economics, sociology, history, and political science, Why People Don't Trust Government should fascinate anyone who is concerned about the quality and future of American politics. (Alan K. Simpson, U.S. Senator, Retired, Wyoming) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press (October 5, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674940571
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674940574
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.9 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #912,335 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
This book focuses on the loss of confidence in government in the US from the mid-60s to mid-90s. Various chapters use survey data to show that trust in government has indeed declined, and suggest a variety of contributing factors, including increasing demands on government, historical events in which government acted badly or ineffectively, changes in media coverage of government, and a general decline in respect for authority and institutions of all kinds. While the focus is on the US, some chapters do discuss other countries- some of what has been going on in the US seems to have been happening in other "advanced" nations.
The chapters are uneven. Some are fairly meaty, and bring in a good deal of data and/or dissect a variety of possible explanations for the observed changed in attitudes toward government. Others just seem like speculative exercises. I was left feeling that I was introduced to an interesting set of questions, but presented with too little in the way of detailed inquiry into those questions.
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Format: Paperback
This book rests on an assumption that academics can view and correctly understand why the public mistrusts government. This assumption rests on a willingness to believe that academics can value what the public does, and to the same degree that the public does. This would imply the same issue matter to the public that matter to academics. The chapters of this book all make that assumption, and that is the problem. Academics simply cannot relate to the concerns of joe sixpack. I know, I am an academic, and I will admit that I am in a different paradigm than my neighbor. These authors are in the same boat, but do not recognize that they are, and draw conclusions operating under this veil of darkness. They pose very interesting questions and are very readable, but just somewhat off on what matters to the regular citizens.
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Format: Paperback
Oh boy its a Chilly January day! I love being an American and am proud of my government, but lately I've been hearing from lunatics and conspiracy theorists have been pissing me off. WHY in the world would you question our government? This is absurd! The government always tells the truth and cares about the American people! These people are sick! Treason!!!! Ban this book!

Avoid conspiracy theorists and stick with good-hearted American heroes like Condeleeza Rice, Dick Cheney, Dubya Bush, and Sarah palin!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This was an okay read. The author made some good points and it wasn't a difficult read. Some of these political books are dry and dull, but this one wasn't bad.
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