Americans love to hate their government. There is a long tradition of anti-government suspicion that goes back all the way to the founding of the nation. The election of Barack Obama, however, has created one the largest backlashes against government in our history. Tea partiers, fueled bytalk radio and cable TV demagogues, have created a political atmosphere of anger and hostility toward our government rivaled perhaps only by the pre-Civil War era of the 1850s.Lost at the Tea Party rallies and in talk radio fulminations, however, is this simple fact: the federal government plays a central role in making our society function, and it always has.This book is a collection of essays to remind Americans of that fact. Written by some of the nation's foremost and most engaging scholars, this book considers ten key aspects of American life - from education, to communication, to housing, and health - and charts the way the federal government hascontributed to American progress and everyday life. Essential - and fun - reading for anyone who wants to understand our political history and our political present, it will help inform the choices we must make about our future.