- Series: Almanac of American Politics
- Paperback: 1920 pages
- Publisher: National Journal Group; Revised edition (August 15, 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0892341122
- ISBN-13: 978-0892341122
- Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.5 x 2.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 57 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,691,202 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Almanac of American Politics, 2006 Revised Edition
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"The Bible of American politics" - George Will "Indispensable. This compendium of statistics and information has gone as far as humanly possible." - Washington Post "The ultimate guide for political junkies like you and me." - Tim Russert, Meet the Press; "Michael Barone is to politics what statistician-writer Bill James is to baseball, a mix of historian, social observer, and numbers cruncher who illuminates his subject with perspective and a touch of irreverence." - Chicago Tribune; "The single best reference there is for Congress and Washington specifically and the country generally." - Jim Lehrer, The NewsHour; "It's simply the oxygen of the political world. We have the most dog-eared copy in town." - Judy Woodruff, CNN"
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Does the book have any faults? Yes. Data on backgrounds of legislators sometimes contained errors. In at least a couple of cases the authors supplied conflicting information in different segments of biographical data. Moreover, the definition of military service can be perplexing, omitting interpretation of reserve service (active or inactive?) and in one case including even ROTC service in college. (I mention military service here only because it does constitute one of the variables used in the authors' analysis of voting and demographic characteristics.) But problems are minor. The charge of Republican political bias has no validity. Michael Barone is a conservative but he and his co-author, Richard E. Cohen, longtime correspondent for the highly respected, nonpartisan National Journal, have scrupulously avoided unfair selection of information or unfair judgments. They provided a vast array of verifiable empirical data, and in their narrative an individual's political party affiliation played no part in the selection of examples of praiseworthy or embarrassing behavior.
It has become a cliché to describe a book as indispensable--no human would have time to read all books so designated--but for anyone interested in understanding American politics as observer, student, or participant, this book comes closest to deserving the label.
The true treasure I find is reading edition after edition and watching the changes in congressional districts and how and why people get elected. It is educational and insightful in a era of 30 second television ads. Read this, look at Larry Sabato's crystal ball (online) and watch the polls from Real Clear politics. In a short time, you will have a informed opinion and educated guess on how the 2010 election will break down, seat by seat. Quite amazing!
For those unfamilar with the Almanac, the book is released every two years and it is basically an encyclopedia of all national politics. Broken up mainly by state, it gives detailed sketches of all of the governors, U.S. senators, and U.S. representatives, including how they've done in their previous elections, their backgrounds, how they've voted on certain key votes, and how liberal or conservative the congressional districts are. The Almanac also provides breakdown of the states themselves: how they've voted in previous presidential elections, how the voter registration numbers look, and other information. I've noticed that this year the authors have added some very interesting sections on which states will be awarded additional seats by the next census, and which ones will lose seats. This information will be obviously be pretty key after 2010. Finally, this volume gives some good coverage of the impending 2008 presidential race.
The price tag is probably the biggest negative, but it is still well worth it. Plus, while the book will cost upwards of $75 if you go to a bookstore, you can get it on Amazon for under fifty bucks. A good deal, if you ask me. The Almanac is a great book for a political junkie to read over-and-over-and-over again, and it is also a superb resource tool for people interested in just learning about the government and our elected officials. It's always a fun read, even if many of the Member profiles are recycled volume-to-volume.