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75 books about Congress [sort by author]      

After the Rubicon: Congress, Presidents, and the Politics of Waging War
Douglas L. Kriner
University of Chicago Press, 2010

When the United States goes to war, the nation’s attention focuses on the president. As commander in chief, a president reaches the zenith of power, while Congress is supposedly shunted to the sidelines once troops have been deployed abroad. Because of Congress’s repeated failure to exercise its legislative powers to rein in presidents, many have proclaimed its irrelevance in military matters.

After the Rubicon
challenges this conventional wisdom by illuminating the diverse ways in which legislators influence the conduct of military affairs. Douglas L. Kriner reveals that even in politically sensitive wartime environments, individual members of Congress frequently propose legislation, hold investigative hearings, and engage in national policy debates in the public sphere. These actions influence the president’s strategic decisions as he weighs the political costs of pursuing his preferred military course.

Marshalling a wealth of quantitative and historical evidence, Kriner expertly demonstrates the full extent to which Congress materially shapes the initiation, scope, and duration of major military actions and sheds new light on the timely issue of interbranch relations.

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Americans, Congress, and Democratic Responsiveness: Public Evaluations of Congress and Electoral Consequences
David R. Jones and Monika L. McDermott
University of Michigan Press, 2009

"Jones and McDermott restore meaning to democratic responsibility by finding that public evaluations affect Congress. In contrast to the popular depiction of the representatives controlling the represented
rampant in the political science literature, Jones and McDermott show that the people are in control, determining not only the direction of policy in Congress, but also who stays, who retires, and who faces difficult reelection efforts. This book makes an important correction to our understanding of how Congress operates."
---Sean M. Theriault, University of Texas at Austin
 
Voters may not know the details of specific policies, but they have a general sense of how well Congress serves their own interests; and astute politicians pay attention to public approval ratings. When the majority party is unpopular, as during the 2008 election, both voters and politicians take a hand in reconfiguring the House and the Senate. Voters throw hard-line party members out of office while candidates who continue to run under the party banner distance themselves from party ideology. In this way, public approval directly affects policy shifts as well as turnovers at election time. Contrary to the common view of Congress as an insulated institution, Jones and McDermott argue that Congress is indeed responsive to the people of the United States.
 
David R. Jones is Professor of Political Science at Baruch College, City University of New York.
 
Monika L. McDermott is Associate Professor of Political Science at Fordham University.
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Barbara F. Vucanovich: From Nevada to Congress, and Back Again
Barbara F. Vucanovich
University of Nevada Press, 2014

Barbara Vucanovich was sixty-two when she ran in her first election, becoming the first woman ever elected to a federal office from Nevada. In this engaging memoir, written with her daughter, she reflects on the road that led her to Washington--her years as mother, businesswoman, and volunteer.
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Boss Rule in the Gilded Age: Matt Quay of Pennsylvania
James A. Kehl
University of Pittsburgh Press, 1981

Matt Quay was called “the ablest politician this country has ever produced.” He served as a United States senator representing Pennsylvania from 1887 to 1904. His career as a Republican Party boss, however, spanned nearly half a century, during which numerous governors and one president owed their election success to his political skills. James A. Kehl was given the first public access to Quay's own papers, and herein presents the inside story of this controversial man who was considered a political Robin Hood for his alleged bribe-taking, misappropriations of funds, and concern for the underprivileged-yet he emerged as the most powerful member of the Republican Party in his state.
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Building a Legislative-Centered Public Administration: Congress and the Administrative State, 1946-1999
David Rosenbloom
University of Alabama Press, 2002

Before 1946 the congressional role in public administration had been limited to authorization, funding, and review of federal administrative operations, which had grown rapidly as a result of the New Deal and the Second World War. But in passing the Administrative Procedure Act and the Legislative Reorganization Act that pivotal year, Congress self-consciously created for itself a comprehensive role in public administration. Reluctant to delegate legislative authority to federal agencies, Congress decided to treat the agencies as extensions of itself and established a framework for comprehensive regulation of the agencies' procedures. Additionally, Congress reorganized itself so it could provide continuous supervision of federal agencies.

Rosenbloom shows how these 1946 changes in the congressional role in public administration laid the groundwork for future major legislative acts, including the Freedom of Information Act (1966), Privacy Act (1974), Government in the Sunshine Act (1976), Paperwork Reduction Acts (1980, 1995), Chief Financial Officers Act (1990), and Small Business Regulatory Fairness Enforcement Act (1996). Each of these acts, and many others, has contributed to the legislative-centered public administration that Congress has formed over the past 50 years.

This first book-length study of the subject provides a comprehensive explanation of the institutional interests, values, and logic behind the contemporary role of Congress in federal administration and attempts to move the public administration field beyond condemning legislative "micromanagement" to understanding why Congress values it.

2001 Louis Brownlow Award from the National Academy of Public Administration
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Call to order: floor politics in the House and Senate
Steven S. Smith
Brookings Institution Press, 1989

Candidates, Congress, and the American Democracy
Linda L. Fowler
University of Michigan Press, 1993

Discusses the effect of the process of candidate selection on democracy in the United States
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The Collected Works of William Howard Taft, Volume IV: Presidential Messages to Congress
William Howard Taft
Ohio University Press, 2002

“A time when panics seem far removed is the best time to prepare our financial system to withstand a storm. The most crying need this country has is a proper banking and currency system. The existing one is inadequate, and everyone who has studied the question admits it.” — William Howard Taft

The interaction between President William Howard Taft and the Congress provides a window on his leadership. Volume IV of The Collected Works of William Howard Taft is devoted to his messages to the legislative branch and concerns some of the pressing issues of the day, issues that have relevance still.

Oftentimes President Taft was at odds with a somewhat reactionary Congress, causing him to veto legislation that he thought unwise. For example, his commitment to the independence of elected judges led him to reject statehood for Arizona until its constitution was altered to address his objection.

His messages also touched on subjects for which he led the way over the objections of Congress, such as his recommendation of a federal law to protect resident aliens against denial of their civil rights and his advocacy of free trade with Canada.

In his commentary to the volume, Professor Burton points out: “There is exhibited time after time concern for the American people, for men and women from different walks of life. Taft comes across less as a judge, which he had been, or the chief justice he was to become, and more as a sitting president of all the people.”

Taft’s Presidential Messages to Congress provides the documentary evidence to support that claim.
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Competing Principals: Committees, Parties, and the Organization of Congress
Forrest Maltzman
University of Michigan Press, 1997

Since Woodrow Wilson, political scientists have recognized the importance of congressional committees in the policy-making process. Congressional committees often determine what legislation will reach the floor of the House or Senate and what form that legislation will take. In spite of the broad consensus on the importance of congressional committees, there is little agreement on what explains committee action. Committees are alternately viewed as agents of the chamber, the party caucuses, or constituencies outside the institution. Each theory suggests a different distribution of power in the policy-making process.
Forrest Maltzman argues that none of these models fully captures the role performed by congressional committees and that committee members attempt to balance the interests of the chamber, the party caucus, and outside constituencies. Over time, and with the changing importance of a committee's agenda to these groups, the responsiveness of members of committees will vary. Maltzman argues that the responsiveness of the committee to these groups is driven by changes in procedure, the strength of the party caucus, and the salience of a committee's agenda. Maltzman tests his theory against historical data.
This book will appeal to social scientists interested in the study of Congress and legislative bodies, as well as those interested in studying the impact of institutional structure on the policy-making process.
"This specialized study, of value to congressional scholars and partisan activists, enriches an understanding of the increasingly predictable patterns of committee variety." --Choice
Forrest Maltzman is Assistant Professor of Political Science, George Washington University.
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Congress and Economic Policy Making
Darrell M. West
University of Pittsburgh Press, 1987

Economic policymaking has perpetually been one of the central dilemmas facing Congress, leading to huge budget deficits and disagreements among legislators about spending priorities and tax policies.

This book examines congressional decision making on economic policy during the Reagan administration. It looks at legislative actions on Reaganomics, tax reform, and the politics of deficit reduction, and shows the importance of looking not just at the consequences of these decisions but also at the legislative processes that led to them.

Using an “activist-based” approach and previously unexamined data, Darrell West shows that district activists, often more conservative than the public at large, exerted a disproportionate and misleading effect on congressional voting. When this support eventually proved unstable, a more skeptical Congress began to eventually back away from the president's policies. This move had serious consequences for deficit reduction and policy initiation, and also influenced the final shape of the tax reform package adopted in 1986.
 

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Congress and the Constitution
Neal Devins and Keith E. Whittington, eds.
Duke University Press, 2005

For more than a decade, the U.S. Supreme Court has turned a skeptical eye toward Congress. Distrustful of Congress’s capacity to respect constitutional boundaries, the Court has recently overturned federal legislation at a historically unprecedented rate. This intensified judicial scrutiny highlights the need for increased attention to how Congress approaches constitutional issues. In this important collection, leading scholars in law and political science examine the role of Congress in constitutional interpretation, demonstrating how to better integrate the legislative branch into understandings of constitutional practice.

Several contributors offer wide-ranging accounts of the workings of Congress. They look at lawmakers’ attitudes toward Congress’s role as a constitutional interpreter, the offices within Congress that help lawmakers learn about constitutional issues, Congress’s willingness to use its confirmation power to shape constitutional decisions by both the executive and the courts, and the frequency with which congressional committees take constitutional questions into account. Other contributors address congressional deliberation, paying particular attention to whether Congress’s constitutional interpretations are sound. Still others examine how Congress and the courts should respond to one another’s decisions, suggesting how the courts should evaluate Congress’s work and considering how lawmakers respond to Court decisions that strike down federal legislation. While some essayists are inclined to evaluate Congress’s constitutional interpretation positively, others argue that it could be improved and suggest institutional and procedural reforms toward that end. Whatever their conclusions, all of the essays underscore the pervasive and crucial role that Congress plays in shaping the meaning of the Constitution.

Contributors. David P. Currie, Neal Devins, William N. Eskridge Jr.. John Ferejohn, Louis Fisher, Elizabeth Garrett, Michael J. Gerhardt, Michael J. Klarman, Bruce G. Peabody, J. Mitchell Pickerill, Barbara Sinclair, Mark Tushnet, Adrian Vermeule, Keith E. Whittington, John C. Yoo

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Congress and the Crisis of the 1850s
Paul Finkelman
Ohio University Press, 2011

During the long decade from 1848 to 1861 America was like a train speeding down the track, without an engineer or brakes. The new territories acquired from Mexico had vastly increased the size of the nation, but debate over their status—and more importantly the status of slavery within them—paralyzed the nation. Southerners gained access to the territories and a draconian fugitive slave law in the Compromise of 1850, but this only exacerbated sectional tensions. Virtually all northerners, even those who supported the law because they believed that it would preserve the union, despised being turned into slave catchers. In 1854, in the Kansas-Nebraska Act, Congress repealed the ban on slavery in the remaining unorganized territories. In 1857, in the Dred Scott case, the Supreme Court held that all bans on slavery in the territories were unconstitutional. Meanwhile, northern whites, free blacks, and fugitive slaves resisted the enforcement of the 1850 fugitive slave law. In Congress members carried weapons and Representative Preston Brooks assaulted Senator Charles Sumner with a cane, nearly killing him. This was the decade of the 1850s and these were the issues Congress grappled with.

This volume of new essays examines many of these issues, helping us better understand the failure of political leadership in the decade that led to the Civil War. 


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Congress and the Emergence of Sectionalism: From the Missouri Compromise to the Age of Jackson
Paul Finkelman
Ohio University Press, 2008

In 1815 the United States was a proud and confident nation. Its second war with England had come to a successful conclusion, and Americans seemed united as never before. The collapse of the Federalists left the Jeffersonian Republicans in control of virtually all important governmental offices. This period of harmony—what historians once called the Era of Good Feeling—was not illusory, but it was far from stable. One-party government could not persist for long in a vibrant democracy full of ambitious politicians, and sectional harmony was possible only as long as no one addressed the hard issues: slavery, race, western expansion, and economic development.

Congress and the Emergence of Sectionalism: From the Missouri Compromise to the Age of Jackson inaugurates a new series for the United States Capitol Historical Society, one that will focus on issues that led to the secession crisis and the Civil War. This first volume examines controversies surrounding sectionalism and the rise of Jacksonian Democracy, placing these sources of conflict in the context of congressional action in the 1820s and 1830s. The essays in this volume consider the plight of American Indians, sectional strife over banking and commerce, emerging issues involving slavery, and the very nature of American democracy.

Contributors:
Michael Les Benedict
Daniel Feller
Robert P. Forbes
William W. Freehling
Tim Alan Garrison
Jan Lewis
Peter S. Onuf
Jenny B. Wahl
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Congress and the Rent-Seeking Society
Glenn R. Parker
University of Michigan Press, 1996



Skillfully blending historical data with microeconomic theory, Glenn Parker argues that the incentives for congressional service have declined over the years, and that with that decline has come a change in the kind of person who seeks to enter Congress. The decline in the attractiveness of Congress is a consequence of congressional careerists and of the growth in the rent-seeking society, a term which describes the efforts of special interests to obtain preferential treatment by using the machinery of government--legislation and regulations.

Parker provides a fresh and controversial perspective to the debate surrounding the relative merits of career or amateur politicians. He argues that driving career politicians from office can have pernicious effects on the political system: it places the running of Congress in the hands of amateur politicians, who stand to lose little if they are found engaging in illegal or quasi-legal practices. On the other hand, career legislators risk all they have invested in their long careers in public service if they engage in unsavory practices. As Parker develops this controversial argument, he provides a fresh perspective on the debate surrounding the value of career versus amateur politicians.

Little attention has been given to the long-term impact of a rent-seeking society on the evolution of political institutions. Parker examines empirically and finds support for hypotheses that reflect potential symptoms of adverse selection in the composition of Congress: (1) rent-seeking politicians are more inclined than others to manipulate institutional arrangements for financial gain; (2) the rent-seeking milieu of legislators are more likely to engage in rent-seeking activity than earlier generations; (3) and the growth of rent-seeking activity has hastened the departure of career legislators.

Glenn R. Parker is Distinguished Research Professor, Florida State University.

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The Congress of Vienna: Power and Politics after Napoleon
Brian E. Vick
Harvard University Press, 2014

Historians have dismissed the pageantry of the Vienna Congress as window dressing when compared with the serious maneuverings of sovereigns and statesmen. By seeing these two dimensions as interconnected, Brian Vick reveals how one of the most important diplomatic summits in history managed to redraw the map of Europe and the international system.
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Congress on Display, Congress at Work
William T. Bianco, Editor
University of Michigan Press, 2000

This impressive collection of essays by many renowned scholars was compiled in honor of Richard F. Fenno's contribution to legislative studies. Utilizing various approaches to examine the impact of strategic behavior, rules, and institutions on legislative outcomes, this book produces significant new insights into legislative behavior. The themes that are constant in this volume and that reflect Richard F. Fenno's own treatment of the field are legislators as rational actors; the expectation that congressional rules, procedures, and institutions reflect the preferences and constraints faced by members of Congress; and viewing politics as politicians do.
The contributors are John Aldrich, Steve Balla, David Castle, Christine DeGregorio, Richard Delany, Diana Evans, Patrick Fett, Linda Fowler, Brian Frederking, Jeffrey Hill, Bryan Marshall, Brandon Prins, David Rohde, Wendy Schiller, Kenneth Shepsle, and John Wright.
William T. Bianco is Associate Professor of Political Science, Pennsylvania State University.
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Congress, the President, and the Federal Reserve: The Politics of American Monetary Policy-Making
Irwin L. Morris
University of Michigan Press, 2000

Congress, the President, and the Federal Reserve is a study of the politics of monetary policy making at the Federal Reserve--widely considered the most important and most powerful federal bureaucracy. Ostensibly, the Federal Reserve is independent of the political branches of government; however, Congress, the President, and the Federal Reserve clearly demonstrates-- from both a theoretical and empirical standpoint--how the preferences of members of Congress and the President impact decisionmaking at the Fed.
Current formal theories of the general policy-making process are utilized to construct an explanatory framework that identifies the mechanisms through which congressional and executive influence is exercised. The theoretical framework presented in the text also helps to explain the political dynamics of several of the most significant policy decisions of the Federal Reserve during the last half-century. In addition, this book provides a unique perspective on the manner in which Fed policymakers attempt to shield themselves from unwelcome political influence.
While the main focus of Congress, the President, and the Federal Reserve is monetary policy-making, it also speaks to the political nature of policy-making in a more general sense and provides a guide for the future study of the political dynamics in a wide variety of substantive policy areas. Thus it will interest not only political scientists and economists interested in monetary policy-making specifically but also those interested in the nature of public policy-making more generally.
Irwin L. Morris is Assistant Professor of Political Science, University of Maryland.
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Congressional Communication: Content and Consequences
Daniel Lipinski
University of Michigan Press, 2004

"Lipinski's impressive analysis of members' communications with constituents yields major insights about partisanship, effects on reelection prospects, and constituent evaluations."
--Bruce Oppenheimer, Vanderbilt University

"The communication between representatives and their constituents is where election strategy and policy explanations are merged and, until now, we have had only anecdotal evidence. Lipinski's book sheds light on this important part of American political life."
--David Brady, Stanford University


Congressional Communication challenges the notion that legislators "run against Congress" by routinely denigrating the institution. Using a unique, systematic analysis of the communication from members of Congress to their constituents over a five-year period, Daniel Lipinski challenges this notion, demonstrating key partisan differences in representatives' portrayals of congressional activities. While members of the majority party tend to report that the institution-and, hence, their party-is performing well, members of the minority party are more likely to accuse Congress of doing a poor job.

The findings in Congressional Communication offer the first strong empirical evidence from the electoral arena in support of controversial party government theories. Moving beyond previous studies that look only at legislators' messages, Lipinski's research also reveals the effects of these politically strategic claims on voters, whose interpretations don't necessarily bear out the legislators' intended effects.

Daniel Lipinski is Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Tennessee.
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The Constitution in Congress: Democrats and Whigs, 1829-1861
David P. Currie
University of Chicago Press, 2005

The Constitution in Congress series has been called nothing less than a biography of the US Constitution for its in-depth examination of the role that the legislative and executive branches have played in the development of constitutional interpretation. This third volume in the series, the early installments of which dealt with the Federalist and Jeffersonian eras, continues this examination with the Jacksonian revolution of 1829 and subsequent efforts by Democrats to dismantle Henry Clay’s celebrated “American System” of nationalist economics. David P. Currie covers the political events of the period leading up to the start of the Civil War, showing how the slavery question, although seldom overtly discussed in the debates included in this volume, underlies the Southern insistence on strict interpretation of federal powers.

Like its predecessors, The Constitution in Congress: Democrats and Whigs will be an invaluable reference for legal scholars and constitutional historians alike.
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The Constitution in Congress: Descent into the Maelstrom, 1829-1861
David P. Currie
University of Chicago Press, 2005

This acclaimed series serves as a biography of the U.S. Constitution, offering an indispensable survey of the congressional history behind its development. In a rare examination of the role that both the legislative and executive branches have played in the development of constitutional interpretation, The Constitution in Congress shows how the actions and proceedings of these branches reveal perhaps even more about constitutional disputes than Supreme Court decisions of the time.

The centerpiece for the fourth volume in this series is the great debate over slavery and how this divisive issue led the country into the maelstrom of the Civil War. From the Jacksonian revolution of 1829 to the secession of Southern states from the Union, legal scholar David P. Currie provides an unrivaled analysis of the significant constitutional events—the Wilmot Proviso, the Compromise of 1850, the Kansas-Nebraska Act, the Lincoln-Douglas Debates, and "Bleeding Kansas"—that led up to the war. Exploring how slavery was addressed in presidential speeches and debated in Congress, Currie shows how the Southern Democrats dangerously diminished federal authority and expanded states' rights, threatening the nation's very survival. 

Like its predecessors, this fourth volume of The Constitution in Congress will be an invaluable reference for legal scholars and constitutional historians alike.

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The Constitution in Congress: The Federalist Period, 1789-1801
David P. Currie
University of Chicago Press, 1997

In the most thorough examination to date, David P. Currie analyzes from a legal perspective the work of the first six congresses and of the executive branch during the Federalist era, with a view to its significance for constitutional interpretation. He concludes that the original understanding of the Constitution was forged not so much in the courts as in the legislative and executive branches, an argument of crucial importance for scholars in constitutional law, history, and government.

"A joy to read."—Appellate Practive Journal and Update

"[A] patient and exemplary analysis of the work of the first six Congresses."—Geoffrey Marshall, Times Literary Supplement
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The Constitution in Congress: The Jeffersonians, 1801-1829
David P. Currie
University of Chicago Press, 2001

Because of the judicial branch's tremendous success in reviewing
legislative and executive action in the United States, legal scholars
have traditionally looked only to the courts for guidance in
interpreting the Constitution. This, the second book in David P.
Currie's multivolume series, looks to the legislative and executive
branches for insights into the development of constitutional
interpretation.

Currie examines the period of Republican hegemony from the
inauguration of Thomas Jefferson in 1801 to the election of Andrew
Jackson in 1829. During this time of great leadership and
controversy, many benchmark issues—the abolition of the new Circuit
Courts, the Louisiana Purchase, the Burr conspiracy, the War of 1812,
the Monroe Doctrine, and the Missouri Compromise, among others—were
debated and decided almost exclusively in the legislative and
executive arenas. With its uniquely legal perspective and
comprehensive coverage, The Constitution in Congress
illustrates how the executive and legislative branches matched the
Supreme Court in putting flesh and blood onto the skeleton of the
Constitution.


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Constitutional Deliberation in Congress: The Impact of Judicial Review in a Separated System
J. Mitchell Pickerill
Duke University Press, 2004

In Constitutional Deliberation in Congress J. Mitchell Pickerill analyzes the impact of the Supreme Court’s constitutional decisions on Congressional debates and statutory language. Based on a thorough examination of how Congress responds to key Court rulings and strategizes in anticipation of them, Pickerill argues that judicial review—or the possibility of it—encourages Congressional attention to constitutional issues. Revealing critical aspects of how laws are made, revised, and refined within the separated system of government of the United States, he makes an important contribution to “constitutionalism outside the courts” debates.

Pickerill combines legislative histories, extensive empirical findings, and interviews with current and former members of Congress, congressional staff, and others. He examines data related to all of the federal legislation struck down by the Supreme Court from the beginning of the Warren Court in 1953 through the 1996–97 term of the Rehnquist Court. By looking at the legislative histories of Congressional acts that invoked the Commerce Clause and presented Tenth Amendment conflicts—such as the Child Labor Act (1916), the Civil Rights Act (1965), the Gun-Free School Zones Act (1990), and the Brady Bill (1994)—Pickerill illuminates how Congressional deliberation over newly proposed legislation is shaped by the possibility of judicial review. The Court’s invalidation of the Gun-Free School Zones Act in its 1995 ruling United States v. Lopez signaled an increased judicial activism regarding issues of federalism. Pickerill examines that case and compares congressional debate over constitutional issues in key pieces of legislation that preceded and followed it: the Violence Against Women Act of 1994 and the Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 1997. He shows that Congressional attention to federalism increased in the 1990s along with the Court’s greater scrutiny.

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Constitutional reform and effective government
James L. Sundquist
Brookings Institution Press, 1992

Critical Elections and Congressional Policy Making
David W. Brady
Stanford University Press, 1991

This book argues that, despite the scholarly emphasis on 20th-century congressional history, it is necessary to study the nation’s first 150 years in order to understand more fully the evolution and functioning of the modern Congress—a time when parties emerged, developed, realigned, and dissapeared; Congressional standing rules changed; the workload of Congress increased dramatically; and both houses grew greatly in size.
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The decline and resurgence of Congress
James L. Sundquist
Brookings Institution Press, 1981

The Decline of Comity in Congress
Eric M. Uslaner
University of Michigan Press, 1993

Probes incivility among U.S. lawmakers, demonstrating why institutional reform will not solve gridlock in Washington
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Deliberative Choices: Debating Public Policy in Congress
Gary Mucciaroni and Paul J. Quirk
University of Chicago Press, 2006

The task of deliberating public policy falls preeminently to Congress. But decisions on matters ranging from budget deficits to the war with Iraq, among others, raise serious doubts about its performance.  In Deliberative Choices, Gary Mucciaroni and Paul J. Quirk assess congressional deliberation by analyzing debate on the House and Senate floors.  Does debate genuinely inform members of Congress and the public?  Or does it mostly mislead and manipulate them? 

Mucciaroni and Quirk argue that in fashioning the claims they use in debate, legislators make a strategic trade-off between boosting their rhetorical force and ensuring their ability to withstand scrutiny. Using three case studies—welfare reform, repeal of the estate tax, and telecommunications deregulation—the authors show how legislators’ varying responses to such a trade-off shape the issues they focus on, the claims they make, and the information they provide in support of those claims. 

Mucciaroni and Quirk conclude that congressional debate generally is only moderately realistic and informed. It often trades in half-truths, omissions, and sometimes even outright falsehoods. Yet some debates are highly informative.  Moreover, the authors believe it’s possible to improve congressional deliberation, and they recommend reforms designed to do so.
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The Difference Women Make: The Policy Impact of Women in Congress
Michele L. Swers
University of Chicago Press, 2002

What if there were more women in Congress? Providing the first comprehensive study of the policy activity of male and female legislators at the federal level, Michele L. Swers persuasively demonstrates that, even though representatives often vote a party line, their gender is politically significant and does indeed influence policy making.

Swers combines quantitative analyses of bills with interviews with legislators and their staff to compare legislative activity on women's issues by male and female members of the House of Representatives during the 103rd (1993-94) and 104th (1995-96) Congresses. Tracking representatives' commitment to women's issues throughout the legislative process, from the introduction of bills through committee consideration to final floor votes, Swers examines how the prevailing political context and members' positions within Congress affect whether and how aggressively they pursue women's issues.

Anyone studying congressional behavior, the role of women, or the representation of social identities in Congress will benefit from Swers's balanced and nuanced analysis.
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The Electorate, the Campaign, and the Office: A Unified Approach to Senate and House Elections
Paul Gronke
University of Michigan Press, 2000

Voters simultaneously choose among candidates running for different offices, with different terms, and occupying different places in the Constitutional order. Conventional wisdom holds that these overlapping institutional differences make comparative electoral research difficult, if not impossible. Paul Gronke's path-breaking study compares electoral contexts, campaigns, and voter decision-making in House and Senate elections. Gronke's book offers new insights into how differences--and similarities--across offices structure American elections.
Congressional elections research holds that Senate races are more competitive than House contests because states are more heterogeneous, or because candidates are more prominent and raise more money, or because voters have fundamentally different expectations. Because House and Senate contests are seldom compared, we have little empirical evidence to test the various hypotheses about how voters make choices for different offices. Gronke finds that the similarities between House and Senate elections are much greater than previously thought and that voters make their decisions in both races on the same bases.
Gronke first looks at differences in congressional districts and states, showing that context does not really help us understand why Senate elections feature better candidates, higher spending, and closer outcomes. Next, he turns to campaigns. Surprisingly, over a turbulent twenty-year period, House and Senate candidacies have retained the same competitive dynamics.
Gronke also considers voting behavior in House and Senate elections. Focusing on the 1988 and 1990 elections, he argues that voters do not distinguish between institutions, applying fundamentally the same decision rule, regardless of the office being contested. Gronke closes by considering the implications of his results for the way we relate settings, electoral dynamics, and institutional arrangements.
This book will appeal to those interested in Congress, political campaigning, and voting.
Paul Gronke is Associate Professor of Political Science at Reed College.
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Establishing Congress: The Removal to Washington, D.C., and the Election of 1800
Kenneth R. Bowling
Ohio University Press, 2005

Establishing Congress: The Removal to Washington, D.C., and the Election of 1800 focuses on the end of the 1790s, when, in rapid succession, George Washington died, the federal government moved to Washington, D.C., and the election of 1800 put Thomas Jefferson and the Democratic-Republican party in charge of the federal government.Establishing Congress dispels the myths and misinformation that surround the federal government's move to Washington and demonstrates that the election of 1800 changed American party politics forever, established the success of the American experiment in government, and completed the founding of the Republic. It also contends that the lame-duck session of Congress had far-reaching implications for the governance of the District of Columbia. Later chapters examine aspects of the political iconography of the capitol---one illuminating Jefferson's role in turning the building into a temple for the legislature and an instrument for nation-building, another examining the fascinating decades-long debate over burying George Washington in the Capitol. The collection considers as well the political implications of social life in early Washington, examining the political lobbying by Washington women within a social context and detailing the social and political life in the city's homes, hotels, boardinghouses and eating messes. Establishing Congress is an invaluable reference work for anyone interested in these pivotal moments in American history.Kenneth R. Bowling is co-editor, with Donald R. Kennon, of Inventing Congress: Origins and Establishment of the First Federal Congress (Ohio, 1999), Neither Separate nor Equal: Congress in the 1790s (Ohio, 2000), and The House and Senate in the 1790s: Petitioning, Lobbying, and Institutional Development (Ohio, 2002).Donald R. Kennon is chief historian of the U.S. Capitol Historical Society. He is general editor of the Ohio University Press series Perspectives on the History of Congress, 1789?1801, which contains the present volume, and the series Perspectives on the Art and Architectural History of the United States Capitol.
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Estes Kefauver: A Biography
Charles L. Fontenay
University of Tennessee Press, 1980

Ethics in Congress: from individual to institutional corruption
Dennis F. Thompson
Brookings Institution Press, 1995

Ferraro: My Story
Geraldine Ferraro
Northwestern University Press, 2004

In this memoir, Geraldine A. Ferraro reflects on her experience as the first and only woman nominated by a major party to run on the presidential ticket. This book reveals the process that led to her nomination as the 1984 Democratic Vice-Presidential candidate and gives a revealing behind-the-scenes look at campaign politics, especially the ruthless criticism directed at her and her family. Ferraro brings to life the dynamics of the women in Congress and how the different life experiences that they bring to the table affect the policy making process. She also gives a real understanding of the pioneering women, including Bella Abzug, Gloria Steinem, Millie Jeffrey and many others who worked together to make sure that a women was on the Democratic ticket in 1984.

Ferraro's run for vice-president was an important moment in American history. The time is right for telling a new generation this story of women's collective political power and the difference women office holders can and do make to public policy.
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Foreign Policy and Congress: An International Relations Perspective
Marie T. Henehan
University of Michigan Press, 2000

In the traditional view of foreign policy making in the United States, the President is considered the primary authority and Congress is seen as playing a subsidiary role. Marie T. Henehan looks at the effects of events in the international system on both the content of foreign policy and what actions Congress takes on foreign policy. Henehan argues that the only way to understand the way congressional behavior varies over time is by looking at the rise and resolution of critical issues in foreign policy, which in turn have their origin in the international system. When a critical foreign policy issue arises, congressional activity and attempts to influence foreign policy increase. Once the debate is resolved and one side wins, a consensus emerges and Congress settles into a more passive role. Using a data set consisting of all roll call votes on foreign policy issues taken by the Senate from 1897 to 1984 to generate indicators of Congressional behavior, together with the rise and fall of critical issues in international relations, Henehan is able to develop a more nuanced understanding of Congress's role in foreign policy making over time.
In recent years political scientists have begun to consider the impact of the international system on domestic policy. Part of the difficulty of some of this work, as well as work on Congress's role in foreign policy, is that it has been limited in terms of time and the number of events the analysis considered, depending on case studies. This book offers a systematic consideration of the effects of international events on domestic politics, crossing many different kinds of international activity, and provides a unique longitudinal view of Congressional action on foreign policy.
This book will be of interest to scholars of international relations, American foreign policy making, and Congress.
Marie T. Henehan is Assistant Professor of Political Science, Vanderbilt University.
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Gaining Access: Congress and the Farm Lobby, 1919-1981
John Mark Hansen
University of Chicago Press, 1991

Through a comprehensive analysis of American agricultural politics in the past half-century, Gaining Access shows when, how, and why interest groups gain and lose influence in the policy deliberations of the United States Congress. By consulting with policy advocates, John Mark Hansen argues, lawmakers offset their uncertainty about the policy stands that will bolster or impede their prospects for reelection. The advocates provide legislators with electoral intelligence in Washington and supportive propaganda at home, earning serious consideration of their policy views in return. From among a multitude of such informants, representatives must choose those they will most closely consult.

With evidence from congressional hearings, personal interviews, oral histories, farm and trade journals, and newspapers, Hansen traces the evolution of farm lobby access in Congress. He chronicles the rise and fall of the American Farm Bureau, the surge and decline of party politics, the incoporation of the commodity lobbies, the exclusion of the consumer lobbies, and the accommodation of urban interests in food stamps.

Brilliantly combining insights from rational choice theory with historical data, Gaining Access is an essential guide for anyone interested in the dynamics of interest group influence.
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Galusha A. Grow: The People’s Candidate
Robert D. Ilisevich
University of Pittsburgh Press, 1988

A compelling political biography of Galusha A. Grow, an often-overlooked, yet influential radical American politician of the nineteenth century, who became Speaker of the House in 1861.
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Going Home: Black Representatives and Their Constituents
Richard F. Fenno
University of Chicago Press, 2003

Thirty years ago there were nine African Americans in the U.S. House of Representatives. Today there are four times that number. In Going Home, the dean of congressional studies, Richard F. Fenno, explores what representation has meant—and means today—to black voters and to the politicians they have elected to office.

Fenno follows the careers of four black representatives—Louis Stokes, Barbara Jordan, Chaka Fattah, and Stephanie Tubbs Jones—from their home districts to the halls of the Capitol. He finds that while these politicians had different visions of how they should represent their districts (in part based on their individual preferences, and in part based on the history of black politics in America), they shared crucial organizational and symbolic connections to their constituents. These connections, which draw on a sense of "linked fates," are ones that only black representatives can provide to black constituents.

His detailed portraits and incisive analyses will be important for anyone interested in the workings of Congress or in black politics.
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Homeward Bound: Explaining Changes in Congressional Behavior
Glenn R. Parker
University of Pittsburgh Press, 1986

Richard Fenno first coined the term home style to describe the ways in which members of Congress cultivate the voters of their home constituencies. He suggested that incumbents were paying more attention to their constituents than they had in the past. In this book, Glenn Parker examines the relationship between activities at home and in Washington, asking specifically: Why and when did congressmen and senators begin to pay more attention to their constituents? And what are the institutional consequences of this change?

Using data drawn from the travel vouchers filed by incumbent senators and congressmen between 1959 and 1980, Parker shows that since the mid-1960s incumbents have been placing greater emphasis on service to their state or district. Congress has facilitated this change in various ways, such as by increasing travel allowances and by scheduling that minimizes the conflict between legislative business in Washington and time spent with constituents.
 
Parker's study includes both the Senate and House, and he draws distinctions between the home-style behaviors of senators and representatives. He also provides a historical context for understanding the dynamics of changes in home style. The time-series data generate explanations that specify relationships among historical conditions, individual behavior, and institutional structures.
 

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Horses In Midstream
Andrew E Busch
University of Pittsburgh Press, 1999

Horses in Midstream breaks the mold of midterm election literature by focusing on the consequences of midterm elections rather than on the causes of the anti-administration pattern of those elections. The book concludes that the midterm pattern has two primary consequences: it stymies the President and provides an opportunity for the revitalization of the opposition party—and that numerical losses by the President's party is really only a small part of the equation. Consequently, midterm elections can be considered an additional check in the U.S. political system, acting as a mechanism that helps to assure rough two party balance.

In examining the historical results from midterm elections dating back to 1894 and extending to the surprising result of 1994 and 1998, Busch has uncovered seven consistent ways in which the president and his party are harmed by midterm elections. These elections unfavorably alter the composition of congress, both between the parties and within the President's own party; they deprive the President of the plebiscitary power derived from his original electoral mandate; they give an intangible sense of momentum to the opposition party, leading to renewed opportunities for the opposition to put forward new leaders and to develop winning issues; they exacerbate splits within the President's own party; and they provide the opposition party with expanded party-building opportunities at the state level. Busch also places the midterm elections into four categories: "preparatory" midterms, which contribute to a subsequent change in party control of the Presidency; "calibrating" midterms in which voters slow but do not reverse extraordinary periods of Presidentially-driven change; "normal" midterms when midterm elections stymie the President without contributing to a White House takeover; and the rare "creative exceptions" when an administration escapes the midterm curse at the polls and find themselves invigorated rather than weakened. Busch's new approach to midterm elections, his well supported conclusions, and his clear, consistent style will certainly be of interest to political scientists and will translate well to the classroom.
 

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Institutional Change, Discretion, and the Making of Modern Congress: An Economic Interpretation
Glenn R. Parker
University of Michigan Press, 1992

Controversial new interpretation of legislators' behavior
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Jeannette Rankin: A Political Woman
James J. Lopach
University Press of Colorado, 2005

"If I had my life to live over, I would do it all again, but this time I would be nastier." <br> -<i>Jeannette Rankin (1880-1973)<i><p<p>Jeannette Rankin, the first woman elected to Congress, stands tall among American icons. The representative from Montana won her seat at a time when women didn't have the right to vote in most states. Her firm stances inspired both admiration and fury across party lines, and she gained nearly canonical status among feminists and pacifists. In <i>Jeannette Rankin: A Political Woman</i>, James Lopach and Jean Luckowski demythologize Rankin, showing her to be a talented, driven, and deeply divided woman.<p><p>Until now, no biography has explored Rankin's inconsistencies. The authors extensively consulted the correspondence of her family members and contemporaries, uncovering ties between her politics and her familial and personal relationships. They reveal how she succeeded through her wealthy brother's influence as well as her own extraordinary efforts; how she drew inspiration not from her rural roots but from the radical hotbed of Greenwich Village; and how she championed an independent, woman-centered life while deferring to family. <p><p>Revealing her complexities along with her accomplishments, <i>Jeannette Rankin: A Political Woman</i> will be the definitive biography of this path-breaking politician for years to come.
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Justin Smith Morrill: Father of the Land-Grant Colleges
Coy F. Cross II
Michigan State University Press, 1999

Smith Morrill: Almost every land-grant college or university in the United States has a building named for him; but are his contributions truly recognized and understood? Here is the first biography on this renowned statesman in six decades. Representative and then senator from Vermont, Morrill began his tenure in Congress in 1855 and served continuously for forty-three years. His thirty- one years in the upper chamber alone earned him the title "Father of the Senate." Coy F. Cross reveals a complex and influential political figure who, as chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, and then the Senate Finance Committee, influenced American economic policy for nearly fifty years.  
     Morrill's most-recognized achievements are the pieces of legislation that bear his name: the Morrill land-grant college acts of 1862 and 1890. His legacy, inspired by the Jeffersonian ideal of an educated electorate, revolutionized American higher education. Prior to this legislation, colleges and universities were open primarily to affluent white men and studies were limited largely to medicine, theology, and philosophy. Morrill's land-grant acts eventually opened American higher education to the working class, women, minorities, and immigrants. Since 1862, more than 20 million people have graduated from the 104 land-grant colleges and universities spawned by his grand vision. In this long-overdue study, Cross shows the "Father of Land-Grant Colleges" to be one of America's formative nineteenth- century political figures.

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La Follette Insurgent Spirit
David P. Thelen
University of Wisconsin Press, 1986

Robert M. La Follette and the Insurgent Spirit is a closely argued, lively, and readable biography of the central figure in the American Progressive movement. Wisconsin's “Fighting Bob” La Follette embodied the heart of Progressive sentiment and principle. He was a powerful force in shaping national political events between the eras of Populism and the New Deal
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Learning to govern: an institutional view of the 104th Congress
Richard F. Fenno
Brookings Institution Press, 1997

Less than Meets the Eye: Foreign Policy Making and the Myth of the Assertive Congress
Barbara Hinckley
University of Chicago Press, 1994

Focusing on cases involving major military action, foreign aid authorization, and key controversial votes in both legislative branches, Hinckley shows that—appearances to the contrary—Congress more often than not votes with the President, and has done so for the last few decades. Despite occasional flurries of activity on carefully chosen symbolic issues, most foreign policy issues never even make the Congressional agenda. Those that do are often dispatched with demands for reports that are left unread or with tough restrictions having built-in "escape provisions." Both branches, Hinckley argues, encourage this image of conflict and profit from the symbolic political capital it produces. This process comes to light in her analysis of aid to Nicaragua.

What Hinckley reveals is sharply at odds with conventional wisdom and unflattering to both the executive and the legislative branches of government. More than a critical reassessment, this book also proposes reforms than might result in real congressional participation in the making of foreign policy. With its insight into how our system of checks and balances works—and doesn't—this book takes a first step toward making the peoples' representatives accountable for crucial American interests in foreign matters.
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Lister Hill - Statesman from the South
Virginia Van Der Veer Hamilton
University of Alabama Press, 2004

"Hamilton makes clear in this intelligent and sensitive biography [that] Hill, whose 45 years in Congress spanned the presidents from Calvin Coolidge to Lyndon Johnson, deserves to be remembered, both for the impressive legislative record he compiled and for the light he shed on southern liberalism in the 20th century." -- Journal of Southern History "Hamilton's fine book is based on extensive research [and] it will be of interest to a general audience as well as to scholars." -- Journal of American History "This is an important work about a highly influential lawmaker." Choice Virginia Van der Veer Hamilton is Professor Emerita of History at The University of Alabama at Birmingham and author of Hugo Black: The Alabama Years.
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The Logic of Delegation
D. Roderick Kiewiet and Mathew D. McCubbins
University of Chicago Press, 1991

Why do majority congressional parties seem unable to act as an effective policy-making force? They routinely delegate their power to others—internally to standing committees and subcommittees within each chamber, externally to the president and to the bureaucracy. Conventional wisdom in political science insists that such delegation leads inevitably to abdication—usually by degrees, sometimes precipitously, but always completely.

In The Logic of Delegation, however, D. Roderick Kiewiet and Mathew D. McCubbins persuasively argue that political scientists have paid far too much attention to what congressional parties can't do. The authors draw on economic and management theory to demonstrate that the effectiveness of delegation is determined not by how much authority is delegated but rather by how well it is delegated.

In the context of the appropriations process, the authors show how congressional parties employ committees, subcommittees, and executive agencies to accomplish policy goals. This innovative study will force a complete rethinking of classic issues in American politics: the "autonomy" of congressional committees; the reality of runaway federal bureaucracy; and the supposed dominance of the presidency in legislative-executive relations.
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Making laws and making news: media strategies in the U.S. House of Representatives
Timothy E. Cook
Brookings Institution Press, 1989

The Mild Voice of Reason: Deliberative Democracy and American National Government
Joseph M. Bessette
University of Chicago Press, 1994

In recent years, many Americans and more than a few political scientists have come to believe that democratic deliberation in Congress—whereby judgments are made on the merits of policies reflecting the interests and desires of American citizens—is more myth than reality. Rather, pressure from special interest groups, legislative bargaining, and the desire of incumbents to be reelected are thought to originate in American legislative politics. While not denying such influences, Joseph M. Bessette argues that the institutional framework created by the founding fathers continues to foster a government that is both democratic and deliberative, at least to some important degree.

Drawing on original research, case studies of policymaking in Congress, and portraits of American lawmakers, Bessette demonstrates not only the limitations of nondeliberative explanations for how laws are made but also the continued vitality of genuine reasoning on the merits of public policy. Bessette discusses the contributions of the executive branch to policy deliberation, and looks at the controversial issue of the proper relationship of public opinion to policymaking.

Informed by Bessette's nine years of public service in city and federal government, The Mild Voice of Reason offers important insights into the real workings of American democracy, articulates a set of standards by which to assess the workings of our governing institutions, and clarifies the forces that promote or inhibit the collective reasoning about common goals so necessary to the success of American democracy.

"No doubt the best-publicized recent book-length work on Congress is columnist George Will's diatribe in praise of term limits in which the core of his complaint is that Congress does not deliberate in its decision-making. Readers who are inclined to share that fantasy would do well to consult the work of Joseph M. Bessette. He turns up massive amounts of material attesting to the centrality of deliberation in congressional life."—Nelson W. Polsby, Presidential Studies Quarterly
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Nothing to Read: Newspapers and Elections in a Social Experiment
Jeffery J. Mondak
University of Michigan Press, 1995

How important are local newspapers for disseminating information during election campaigns? A large body of literature theorizes that they should have very little effect on political behavior since the electorate is largely immune to any media influence. To what lengths would the average citizen go to obtain information about candidates should a media source suddenly be suspended during an election? Most of the literature argues that the average citizen would not seek out any additional information to supplement what they passively acquire. A newspaper strike in Pittsburgh during the 1992 elections afforded Jeffery J. Mondak an unparalleled opportunity to test these assumptions--and to prove them both wrong.
Nothing to Read compares the information gathering and voting behavior of residents in Pittsburgh and Cleveland during the 1992 campaign season. Comparable in demographics and political behavior, the only significant difference between the two cities was the availability of local newspapers. Using a research design that combines elements of the opinion survey and the laboratory experiment, the author exploited this situation to produce an unusually sound and thorough examination of media effects on voters.
The results are startling. First and foremost, Nothing to Read reasserts the role of the newspaper in the dissemination of information acquisition. It is the only media source that can rival television in the electoral arena, and it is often more important to voters as a source for local information, including information about U.S. House races. Nothing to Read also shows that voters are more active in seeking out information than typically postulated. Indeed, many voters even differentiate between media sources for information about Senate and House contests and sources for the presidential campaign. Within limits, the electorate is clearly not a passive news audience. Nothing to Read provides a wealth of information on such related topics as the relationship between partisanship and media influence, the interplay between media exposure and interpersonal political conversations and other social interaction, and newspapers' effect on coattail voting. A unique book, Mondak's important study lays a solid foundation for all future work on the relationship between American media and politics.
Jeffery J. Mondak is Associate Professor of Political Science, University of Pittsburgh.
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Oscar W. Underwood: A Political Biography
Evans Johnson
University of Alabama Press, 2006

Although Oscar W. Underwood was considered a titan of his age, few American political figures have suffered such neglect as he. Except for his candidacy for the Democratic nomination in 1924, his political career is largely forgotten even in Alabama. The one place in which Underwood is well remembered is in the folklore of Congress, where he is widely regarded as a great party leader who had mastered the rules perhaps as thoroughly as any member of Congress. This mastery, together with steady work, personal magnetism, and a willingness to compromise, made him effective as chairman of the Ways and Means Committee in formulating a majority program after the Democrats seized control of the House in 1910. Pat Harrison, Underwood's lieutenant as minority leader, referred to Underwood as the "greatest natural parliamentarian, the greatest leader of a law-making body that I ever saw."

--from the Preface to Oscar W. Underwood: A Political Biography

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Parties and Leaders in the Postreform House
David W. Rohde
University of Chicago Press, 1991

Since the Second World War, congressional parties have been characterized as declining in strength and influence. Research has generally attributed this decline to policy conflicts within parties, to growing electoral independence of members, and to the impact of the congressional reforms of the 1970s. Yet the 1980s witnessed a strong resurgence of parties and party leadership—especially in the House of Representatives.

Offering a concise and compelling explanation of the causes of this resurgence, David W. Rohde argues that a realignment of electoral forces led to a reduction of sectional divisions within the parties—particularly between the northern and southern Democrats—and to increased divergence between the parties on many important issues. He challenges previous findings by asserting that congressional reform contributed to, rather than restrained, the increase of partisanship. Among the Democrats, reforms siphoned power away from conservative and autocratic committee chairs and put control of those committees in the hands of Democratic committee caucuses, strengthening party leaders and making both party and committee leaders responsible to rank-and-file Democrats. Electoral changes increased the homogeneity of House Democrats while institutional reforms reduced the influence of dissident members on a consensus in the majority party. Rohde's accessible analysis provides a detailed discussion of the goals of the congressional reformers, the increased consensus among Democrats and its reinforcement by their caucus, the Democratic leadership's use of expanded powers to shape the legislative agenda, and the responses of House Republicans. He also addresses the changes in the relationship between the House majority and the president during the Carter and Reagan administrations and analyzes the legislative consequences of the partisan resurgence.

A readable, systematic synthesis of the many complex factors that fueled the recent resurgence of partisanship, Parties and Leaders in the Postreform House is ideal for course use.
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Party, Process, and Political Change in Congress, Volume 1: New Perspectives on the History of Congress
Edited by David W. Brady and Mathew D. McCubbins
Stanford University Press, 2002

This book argues that, despite the scholarly emphasis on 20th-century congressional history, it is necessary to study the nation's first 150 years in order to understand more fully the evolution and functioning of the modern Congress. ---------- David W. Brady is Bowen H. and Janice Arthur McCoy Professor of Political Science in the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Among his books are Continuity and Change in House Elections (with John F. Cogan and Morris P. Fiorina, Stanford, 2000) and Critical Elections and Congressional Policy Making (Stanford, 1988). Mathew D. McCubbins is Professor of Political Science at the University of California, San Diego. His work on Congress includes Legislative Leviathan (with Gary W. Cox). ---------- In recent decades, political scientists have produced an enormous body of scholarship dealing with the U.S. Congress, and in particular congressional organization. However, most of this research has focused on Congress in the twentieth century--especially the post-New Deal era--and the long history of Congress has been largely neglected. The contributors to this book demonstrate that this inattention to congressional history has denied us many rich opportunities to more fully understand the evolution and functioning of the modern Congress. In striking contrast to the modern era, which is marked by only modest partisan realignment and institutional change, the period preceding the New Deal was a time of rapid and substantial change in Congress. During the nation's first 150 years, parties emerged, developed, and realigned; the standing rules of the House and Senate expanded and underwent profound changes; the workload of Congress increased dramatically; and both houses grew considerably in size. Studying history is valuable in large part because it allows scholars to observe greater variation in many of the parameters of their theories, and to test their core assumptions. A historical approach pushes scholars to recognize and confront the limits of their theories, resulting in theories that have increased validity and broader applicability. Thus, incorporating history into political science gives us a more dynamic view of Congress than the relatively static picture that emerges from a strict focus on recent periods. Each contributor engages one of three general questions that have animated the literature on congressional politics in recent years: What is the role of party organizations in policy making? In what ways have congressional process and procedure changed over the years? How does congressional process and procedure affect congressional politics and policy? ---------- "All of these essays constitute high-powered marriages between sophisticated quantitative methods and powerful analytical theory."--Kenneth A. Shepsle, Harvard University
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Party, Process, and Political Change in Congress, Volume 2: Further New Perspectives on the History of Congress
Edited by David W. Brady and Mathew D. McCubbins
Stanford University Press, 2007

This work addresses the development of congressional practices and institutions and ties the changes to key political and economic events. In connecting political and economic events with changes in Congress, the authors examine the political economy of the history of Congress. They draw upon history to offer insights about contemporary issues such as party polarization, filibuster reform, direct election of politicians, intercameral bargaining, and the role of committees in the political process. Through this approach the authors help us to understand how politics and economics interact to affect Congress.

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Paul Wellstone: The Life of a Passionate Progressive
Bill Lofy
University of Michigan Press, 2005

"Paul Wellstone, we miss you. Few politicians, especially these days, are as willing to stand up and speak the truth as Wellstone was. In this era of flaccid rhetoric and pre-approved sound bites, he had the rare ability to ignite a fire in his audiences. Bill Lofy's excellent biography rekindles that fire and reminds us just how much politicians of Wellstone's honesty, character, and spine are needed---now more than ever. This book should inspire a new generation of voters and political leaders alike."
---Arianna Huffington, columnist and editor of HuffingtonPost.com

"This book captures the vibrant spirit of my friend Paul Wellstone---the fierce commitment to justice that defined his life, and that shapes his enduring legacy."
---U.S. Senator Russ Feingold

"Paul Wellstone was a great leader because he fused progressive idealism with a stubbornly pragmatic politics. Bill Lofy's book captures that dual commitment in his story of Wellstone's life, and also shows us the extraordinary human appeal that Wellstone emanated in his relationships with people in all walks of life. This book is an engaging read that also tells us a lot about the political practice to which we should aspire."
---Frances Fox Piven, author of The War at Home

"This vividly written book captures the life and personal qualities of the late Senator Paul Wellstone. In so doing it provides an illuminating gloss on Max Weber's seminal exposition of the political vocation. It is a jewel of a book."
-Fred Greenstein, Princeton University


Bill Lofy's fast-paced and readable biography tells the inspirational story of one of the most compelling figures in the history of American politics---Senator Paul Wellstone.

Yet Lofy's book is more than just the chronicle of Wellstone's life and political career; it's also an indispensable guide to what ails political life today. Readers politically inclined or not will find in its pages a handbook to the uncertain and often treacherous business of politics and a stirring example for living a courageous and honest life---whether as public servant or private individual.
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Philip Hart: the conscience of the Senate
Michael O'Brien
Michigan State University Press, 1995

Never a fiery orator nor a seeker of headlines, Phil Hart earned after eighteen years in congress the title of "The Conscience of the Senate" from colleauges on both sides of the aisle. Author and sponsor of critical legislation, particulalry in the areas of civil rights, antitrust enforcement, and consumer and and environmental protection, Hart took great pride in the fact that he was a leader in the Senate fight for the Voting Rights Act of 1965. He was intelligent and committed, idealistic and courageous, honest and humble, taking stands on contraversial issues. A role model for many, an inspiration for others, the extent of his influence was demonstrated in the fall of 1976 as he was retiring from the Senate and dying of cancer. In a tribute to his distinguished career, Senator Edward Kennedy suggested that the new Senate building be named after Hart. A bill sponsored by 85 senators passed, and the new structure became the Phil A. Hart Senate Office Building. "Naming it for Phil Hart was a nice gesture," wrote columnist Mary McGrory, "and if they could build his qualities...into the walls, we would have a Senate that would astound the world with its civility and enlightenment."
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Politics or principle?: filibustering in the United States Senate
Sarah A. Binder
Brookings Institution Press, 1997

Post-Passage Politics: Bicameral Resolution in Congress
Stephen D. Van Beek
University of Pittsburgh Press, 1995

“Megabills” that package scores of legislative proposals into House and Senate bills are a phenomenon of the congressional reforms of the 1970s and the agenda changes of the 1980s. These bills generate unprecedented disagreements between the House and Senate, requiring congressional leaders, the president, committee chairs, and junior members to play new roles in this struggle for resolution.

Conference committees of hundreds of members, informal negotiations among party leaders, and preconference strategizing and behavior are among the new realities of bicameralism that are viewed in this study. These conferences are vital because they generally are the last arenas in which large-scale changes can be made in legislation.

Van Beek uses a case study approach that investigates the legislative histories of recent bills on the savings and loan bailout, the major trade bill of the late 1980s, and several budget reconciliation bills. His research is brought to life through personal experience as a legislative aide, direct observation of Congress at work, and interviews with members, staff and lobbyists.

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The President in the Legislative Arena
Jon R. Bond and Richard Fleisher
University of Chicago Press, 1990

In recent years, the executive branch's ability to maneuver legislation through Congress has become the measure of presidential success or failure. Although the victor of legislative battles is often readily discernible, debate is growing over how such victories are achieved.

In The President in the Legislative Arena, Jon R. Bond and Richard Fleisher depart dramatically from the concern with presidential influence that has dominated research on presidential-congressional relations for the past thirty years. Of the many possible factors involved in presidential success, those beyond presidential control have long been deemed unworthy of study. Bond and Fleisher disagree. Turning to democratic theory, they insist that it is vitally important to understand the conditions under which the executive brance prevails, regardless of the source of that success. Accordingly, they provide a thorough and unprecedented analysis of presidential success on congressional roll-call votes from 1953 through 1984. Their research demonstrates that the degree of cooperation between the two branches is much more systematically linked to the partisan and ideological makeup of Congress than to the president's bargaining ability and popularity. Thus the composition of Congress "inherited" by the president is the single most significant determinant of the success or failure of the executive branch.
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PRESS GALLERY
Donald A. Ritchie
Harvard University Press, 1991

Race, Redistricting, and Representation: The Unintended Consequences of Black Majority Districts
David T. Canon
University of Chicago Press, 1999

Since the creation of minority-dominated congressional districts eight years ago, the Supreme Court has condemned the move as akin to "political apartheid," while many African-American leaders argue that such districts are required for authentic representation.

In the most comprehensive treatment of the subject to date, David Canon shows that the unintended consequences of black majority districts actually contradict the common wisdom that whites will not be adequately represented in these areas. Not only do black candidates need white votes to win, but this crucial "swing" vote often decides the race. And, once elected, even the black members who appeal primarily to black voters usually do a better job than white members of walking the racial tightrope, balancing the needs of their diverse constituents.

Ultimately, Canon contends, minority districting is good for the country as a whole. These districts not only give African Americans a greater voice in the political process, they promote a politics of commonality—a biracial politics—rather than a politics of difference.
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Raising Hell for Justice: The Washington Battles of a Heartland Progressive
David R. Obey
University of Wisconsin Press, 2007

David Obey has in his nearly forty years in the U.S. House of Representatives worked to bring economic and social justice to America’s working families. In 2007 he assumed the chair of the Appropriations Committee and is positioned to pursue his priority concerns for affordable health care, education, environmental protection, and a foreign policy consistent with American democratic ideals.
     Here, in his autobiography, Obey looks back on his journey in politics beginning with his early years in the Wisconsin Legislature, when Wisconsin moved through eras of shifting balance between Republicans and Democrats. On a national level Obey traces, as few others have done, the dramatic changes in the workings of the U.S. Congress since his first election to the House in 1969. He discusses his own central role in the evolution of Congress and ethics reforms and his view of the recent Bush presidency—crucial chapters in our democracy, of interest to all who observe politics and modern U.S. history.
 
Best Books for Regional General Audiences, selected by the American Association of School Librarians, and Best Books for General Audiences, selected by the Public Library Association
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Reading Public Opinion: How Political Actors View the Democratic Process
Susan Herbst
University of Chicago Press, 1998

Public opinion is one of the most elusive and complex concepts in democratic theory, and we do not fully understand its role in the political process. Reading Public Opinion offers one provocative approach for understanding how public opinion fits into the empirical world of politics. In fact, Susan Herbst finds that public opinion, surprisingly, has little to do with the mass public in many instances.

Herbst draws on ideas from political science, sociology, and psychology to explore how three sets of political participants—legislative staffers, political activists, and journalists—actually evaluate and assess public opinion. She concludes that many political actors reject "the voice of the people" as uninformed and nebulous, relying instead on interest groups and the media for representations of public opinion. Her important and original book forces us to rethink our assumptions about the meaning and place of public opinion in the realm of contemporary democratic politics.

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Seattle in Black and White: The Congress of Racial Equality and the Fight for Equal Opportunity
Jean Durning
University of Washington Press, 2011

Energized by the national civil rights movement, an interracial group of Seattle residents joined together to form the Seattle chapter of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), operational from 1961 through 1968. This book by four founding members tells the local, Seattle story about the national movement to bring about a more integrated and just society.
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Self-Financed Candidates in Congressional Elections
Jennifer A. Steen
University of Michigan Press, 2006

Sizing Up the Senate: The Unequal Consequences of Equal Representation
Frances E. Lee and Bruce I. Oppenheimer
University of Chicago Press, 1999

We take it for granted that every state has two representatives in the United States Senate. Apply the "one person, one vote" standard, however, and the Senate is the most malapportioned legislature in the democratic world.

But does it matter that California's 32 million people have the same number of Senate votes as Wyoming's 480,000? Frances Lee and Bruce Oppenheimer systematically show that the Senate's unique apportionment scheme profoundly shapes legislation and representation. The size of a state's population affects the senator-constituent relationship, fund-raising and elections, strategic behavior within the Senate, and, ultimately, policy decisions. They also show that less populous states consistently receive more federal funding than states with more people. In sum, Lee and Oppenheimer reveal that Senate apportionment leaves no aspect of the institution untouched.

This groundbreaking book raises new questions about one of the key institutions of American government and will interest anyone concerned with issues of representation.
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The Speaker and the Budget: Leadership in the Post-Reform House of Representatives
Daniel J. Palazzolo
University of Pittsburgh Press, 1992

One of the most important changes in Congress in decades were the extensive congressional reforms of the 1970s, which moved the congressional budget process into the focus of congressional policy making and shifted decision making away from committees. This overwhelming attention to the federal budget allowed party leaders to emerge as central decision makers.

Palazzolo traces the changing nature of the Speaker of the House's role in the congressional budget process from the passage of the Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974, through the 100th Congress in 1988. As the deficit grew and budget politics became more partisan in the 1980s, the Speaker became more involved in policy-related functions, such as setting budget priorities and negotiating budget agreements with Senate leaders and the president. Consequently, the Speaker's role as leader of the institution was subordinated to his role as a party leader.

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The State Roots of National Politics: Congress and the Tax Agenda, 1978–1986
Michael B. Berkman
University of Pittsburgh Press, 1994

Winner of the William Anderson Award of the American Political Science Association
Explores the role of state politics in shaping the national agenda during the 1980s. By focusing on the federal tax policy from 1978-1986, Berkman argues that a conservative political agenda slowly replaced the liberal agenda dominant since World War II.


The state roots model asserts that national policymakers, particularly members of Congress, are products of their state political systems and environments. Berkman applies this model to the tax-cutting policies that took hold nationally in 1978, before Regan came to office, and continued in the tax acts of 1981 and 1986.

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Turf Wars: How Congressional Committees Claim Jurisdiction
David C. King
University of Chicago Press, 1997

For most bills in American legislatures, the issue of turf—or which committee has jurisdiction over a bill—can make all the difference. Turf governs the flow and fate of all legislation. In this innovative study, David C. King explains how jurisdictional areas for committees are created and changed in Congress.

Political scientists have long maintained that jurisdictions are relatively static, changing only at times of dramatic reforms. Not so, says King. Combining quantitative evidence with interviews and case studies, he shows how on-going turf wars make jurisdictions fluid.

According to King, jurisdictional change stems both from legislators seeking electoral advantage and from nonpartisan House parliamentarians referring ambiguous bills to committees with the expertise to handle the issues. King brilliantly dissects the politics of turf grabbing and at the same time shows how parliamentarians have become institutional guardians of the legislative process.

Original and insightful, Turf Wars will be valuable to those interested in congressional studies and American politics more generally.

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White Collar Radicals: TVA’s Knoxville Fifteen, the New Deal, and the McCarthy Era
Aaron D. Purcell
University of Tennessee Press, 2009

“This book will make a real contribution to the history of McCarthyism, the history of Tennessee, and the history of TVA.” —Russell B. Olwell, At Work in the Atomic City: A Labor and Social History of Oak Ridge, Tennessee

They came from all corners of the country-fifteen young, idealistic, educated men and women drawn to Knoxville, Tennessee, to work for the Tennessee Valley Authority, one of the first of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal projects. Mostly holding entry-level jobs, these young people became friends and lovers, connecting to one another at work and through other social and political networks..

What the fifteen failed to realize was that these activities-union organizing and, for most, membership in the Communist Party-would plunge them into a maelstrom that would endanger, and for some, destroy their livelihoods, social standing, and careers. White Collar Radicals follows their lives from New Deal activism in the 1930s through the 1940s and 1950s government investigations into what were perceived as subversive deeds.

Aaron D. Purcell shows how this small group of TVA idealists was unwillingly thrust from obscurity into the national spotlight, victims and participants of the second? [not sure is it is needed] Red Scare in the years following World War II. The author brings into sharp focus the determination of the government to target and expose alleged radicals of the 1930s during the early Cold War period. The book also demonstrates how the national hysteria affected individual lives.

White Collar Radicals is both a historical study and a cautionary tale. The Knoxville Fifteen, who endured the dark days of the McCarthy Era, now have their story told for the first time-a story that offers modern-day lessons on freedom, civil liberties, and the authority of the government.

Aaron D. Purcell is an associate professor and director of special collections at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg
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Why Americans Split Their Tickets: Campaigns, Competition, and Divided Government
Barry C. Burden and David C. Kimball
University of Michigan Press, 2002

Why do some voters split their ballots, selecting a Republican for one office and a Democrat for another? Why do voters often choose one party to control the White House while the other controls the Congress? Barry Burden and David Kimball address these fundamental puzzles of American elections by explaining the causes of divided government and debunking the myth that voters prefer the division of power over one-party control. Why Americans Split Their Tickets links recent declines in ticket-splitting to sharpening policy differences between parties and demonstrates why candidates' ideological positions still matter in American elections.

"Burden and Kimball have given us the most careful and thorough analysis of split-ticket voting yet. It won't settle all of the arguments about the origins of ticket splitting and divided government, but these arguments will now be much better informed. Why Americans Split Their Tickets is essential reading for anyone interested in understanding the major trends in U.S. electoral politics of the past several decades."
-Gary Jacobson, University of California, San Diego

"When voters split their tickets or produce divided government, it is common to attribute the outcome as a strategic verdict or a demand for partisan balance. Burden and Kimball strongly challenge such claims. With a thorough and deft use of statistics, they portray ticket-splitting as a by-product of the separate circumstances that drive the outcomes of the different electoral contests. This will be the book to be reckoned with on the matter of ticket splitting."
-Robert Erikson, Columbia University

"[Burden and Kimball] offset the expansive statistical analysis by delving into the historical circumstances and results of recent campaigns and elections. ... [They] make a scholarly and informative contribution to the understanding of the voting habits of the American electorate-and the resulting composition of American government."
-Shant Mesrobian, NationalJournal.com


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Why Congressional Reforms Fail: Reelection and the House Committee System
E. Scott Adler
University of Chicago Press, 2002

For decades, advocates of congressional reforms have repeatedly attempted to clean up the House committee system, which has been called inefficient, outmoded, unaccountable, and even corrupt. Yet these efforts result in little if any change, as members of Congress who are generally satisfied with existing institutions repeatedly obstruct what could fairly be called innocuous reforms.

What lies behind the House's resistance to change? Challenging recent explanations of this phenomenon, Scott Adler contends that legislators resist rearranging committee powers and jurisdictions for the same reason they cling to the current House structure—the ambition for reelection. The system's structure works to the members' advantage, helping them obtain funding (and favor) in their districts. Using extensive evidence from three major reform periods—the 1940s, 1970s, and 1990s—Adler shows that the reelection motive is still the most important underlying factor in determining the outcome of committee reforms, and he explains why committee reform in the House has never succeeded and probably never will.
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Why Not Parties?: Party Effects in the United States Senate
Edited by Nathan W. Monroe, Jason M. Roberts, and David W. Rohde
University of Chicago Press, 2008

Recent research on the U.S. House of Representatives largely focuses on the effects of partisanship, but the strikingly less frequent studies of the Senate still tend to treat parties as secondary considerations in a chamber that gives its members far more individual leverage than congressmen have. In response to the recent increase in senatorial partisanship, Why Not Parties? corrects this imbalance with a series of original essays that focus exclusively on the effects of parties in the workings of the upper chamber.
 
Illuminating the growing significance of these effects, the contributors explore three major areas, including the electoral foundations of parties, partisan procedural advantage, and partisan implications for policy. In the process, they investigate such issues as whether party discipline can overcome Senate mechanisms that invest the most power in individuals and small groups; how parties influence the making of legislation and the distribution of pork; and whether voters punish senators for not toeing party lines. The result is a timely corrective to the notion that parties don’t matter in the Senate—which the contributors reveal is far more similar to the lower chamber than conventional wisdom suggests.
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With Honor: Melvin Laird in War, Peace, and Politics
Van Atta
University of Wisconsin Press, 2008

In 1968, at the peak of the Vietnam War, centrist Congressman Melvin Laird (R-WI) agreed to serve as Richard Nixon’s secretary of defense. It was not, Laird knew, a move likely to endear him to the American public—but as he later said, “Nixon couldn’t find anybody else who wanted the damn job.” For the next four years, Laird deftly navigated the morass of the war he had inherited. Lampooned as a “missile head,” but decisive in crafting an exit strategy, he doggedly pursued his program of Vietnamization, initiating the withdrawal of U.S. military personnel and gradually ceding combat responsibilities to South Vietnam. In fighting to bring the troops home faster, pressing for more humane treatment of POWs, and helping to end the draft, Laird employed a powerful blend of disarming Midwestern candor and Washington savvy, as he sought a high moral road bent on Nixon’s oft-stated (and politically instrumental) goal of peace with honor.
            The first book ever to focus on Laird’s legacy, this authorized biography reveals his central and often unrecognized role in managing the crisis of national identity sparked by the Vietnam War—and the challenges, ethical and political, that confronted him along the way. Drawing on exclusive interviews with Laird, Henry Kissinger, Gerald Ford, and numerous others, author Dale Van Atta offers a sympathetic portrait of a man striving for open government in an atmosphere fraught with secrecy. Van Atta illuminates the inner workings of high politics: Laird’s behind-the-scenes sparring with Kissinger over policy, his decisions to ignore Nixon’s wilder directives, his formative impact on arms control and health care, his key role in the selection of Ford for vice president, his frustration with the country’s abandonment of Vietnamization, and, in later years, his unheeded warning to Donald Rumsfeld that “it’s a helluva lot easier to get into a war than to get out of one.”
 
Best Books for Regional Special Interests, selected by the American Association of School Librarians, and Best Books for Special Interests, selected by the Public Library Association
 
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