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Elections A to Z /

Main Author: Moore, John Leo, 1927-
Format: Book
Language: English
Published: Washington, D.C. : CQ Press, 2003
Edition: 2nd ed.
Series: CQ's American government A to Z series
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Review by Choice Review

The latest in CQ's "Encyclopedia of American Government" series, this title intends to provide information about key concepts, issues, and political parties that define the act or process of electing individuals to office in the US government. Like previous volumes in the series, this one includes about 220 entries, supplemented by appendixes. Among the concepts covered are ballot access, absentee voting, voter turnout, and the nature of representation. Conceptual entries lay the groundwork for understanding US democratic elections. Issue-oriented entries (e.g., front-loading primary and caucus elections, the Civil Rights Act, campaign finance reform) reveal important elements of US electioneering that shape an understanding of a robust democracy. Finally, Moore is attentive to political parties besides the Democrats and Republicans. The inclusion of political parties helps readers understand in a historical context agendas and social movements in the US political arena. Entries vary in length with the subject, but all are concise and well written, and illustrations and photographs accompany many. Twenty-five appendixes provide, to varying degrees, important election data not readily available elsewhere. Among the more useful are lists of election-related Web sites, of chief officers and keynote speakers at the Republican and Democratic national conventions, and of minority members of Congress. The encyclopedia ends with a brief bibliography and a subject index. Although too elementary for researchers and faculty, this work is highly recommended for students and others interested in better understanding US elections. R. V. Labaree; University of Southern California

Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
Review by Booklist Review

Each of these titles takes a slightly different approach to surveying the political process. Part of Congressional Quarterly's Encyclopedia of American Government (along with Congress A to Z, The Presidency A to Z, and The Supreme Court A to Z), Elections A to Z has more than 200 entries. Emphasis is on the campaign and election process at the national level. For the most part, entries cover fairly broad topics (Campaign finance, Democratic Party, National party conventions, Women's suffrage) and run for several pages. There are also a number of shorter entries on more specific topics (e.g., Iowa Caucus, Motor Voter Act) and terms (Beauty contest, Gerrymander, Straw vote). Of particular interest are the very clear explanation of the electoral college system in Electoral College and vote and the chronology in Scandals, which begins with the Thomas Jefferson^-Sally Hemings affair in 1802 and ends with President Clinton's acquittal in 1999. Supporting the text are a number of appendixes, including "Election-Related Web Sites"; "Chief Officers and Keynote Speakers at Republican National Conventions, 1856^-1996" (with equal time provided in the form of a corresponding list for Democratic conventions); and "Blacks in Congress, 41st^-106th Congresses, 1869^-2001." Like Elections A to Z, Encyclopedia of American Parties, Campaigns, and Elections provides definitions of terms and descriptions of parties and political movements. In addition, it includes biographies, summaries of relevant Supreme Court cases, and, in a 64-page entry called "Elections," detailed accounts of presidential elections and campaigns from 1789 to 1996. Arranged alphabetically, the more than 450 entries were written by three Youngstown State University political science professors; and each ends with cited references. The appendix features a three-page table, "U.S. Presidential Candidates and Their Parties, 1789^-Present." Where coverage overlaps, entry length is generally shorter than in the Congressional Quarterly volume: two sentences versus almost six pages for Electoral College; four sentences versus more than half of a page for Landslide. However, the scope is broader and there is much here that the CQ volume does not provide. There are additional terms, including Barnstorm, Copperhead, and Sophomore surge, and treatment of more specific topics, such as Contract with America, Emily's List, and League of Women Voters, not to mention the biographical entries that cover individuals such as Newt Gingrich and Alfred E. Smith as well as all the presidents. The biographical entries are among the longest, sometimes covering several pages. Much of the information in both volumes is already available in other sources, such as Encyclopedia of the American Presidency [RBB Ja 15 94], The HarperCollins Dictionary of American Government and Politics [RBB My 1 92], and Political Parties and Elections in the U.S.: An Encyclopedia [RBB N 1 91]. However, these new titles update and supplement the older ones to some extent and should be useful in public and academic libraries. For high-school libraries, clear explanations, along with the illustrations and sidebars in CQ's Elections A to Z, make it more interesting, attractive, and useful as a teaching tool.

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.