cover image A User’s Guide to Democracy: How America Works

A User’s Guide to Democracy: How America Works

Nick Capodice and Hannah McCarthy, illus. by Tom Toro. Celadon, $16.99 trade paper (352p) ISBN 978-1-250-75184-3

Capodice and McCarthy, cohosts of New Hampshire Public Radio’s Civics 101, debut with a lucid guide to how the U.S. government functions. Aided by humorous illustrations from New Yorker cartoonist Toro, the authors describe the purpose and structure of the legislative, executive, and judicial branches; explain how caucuses and primaries work; sketch the histories of the three-fifths compromise, the congressional filibuster, federalism, the New Deal, etc.; differentiate among the roles of federal, state, and local governments; and offer concise analyses of major Supreme Court decisions. They also walk readers through the Declaration of Independence and the Constitutional amendments, and offer helpful lessons on citizen participation, including how to vote, lobby members of Congress, plan a protest, and run for office. Though Capodice and McCarthy tack to the left (they highlight how few African Americans have made it to the Senate, and note that laws barring convicted felons from voting result “in the disproportionate disenfranchisement of men of color”), they are careful to stay above the partisan fray. The result is an informative and appealing civics lesson for first-time voters and old hands alike. Agent: Julia Eagleton. (Sept.)