cover image American Politics: How It Really Works

American Politics: How It Really Works

Milton Meltzer. Morrow Junior Books, $12.95 (185pp) ISBN 978-0-688-07494-4

In this subjective study of political institutions, Meltzer neglects some of the very techniques he uses to such advantage in his works of social history. There are, for the most part, no character sketches (as in The Terrorists ) and no extended anecdotes (as in Rescue: The Story of How Gentiles Saved Jews in the Holocaust ), even though people and their actions are the stuff of politics. The scope is unwieldy, too, thinly scanning the Constitutional Convention and the Wedtech scandal, with chapters on Congress (``most representatives . . . lead unrepresentative lives''), courts, campaigning and other subjects in between. There seems to be no salient, linking theme, unless it is Meltzer's disenchantment with the current political climate--he clearly fears for the public trust--or his desire to give a more truthful account of politics than textbooks do. This is a heartfelt book, but it is too simplified and not very engaging. Ages 12-up. (Mar.)