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The American Senate: An Insider's History: Book by Neil MacNeil

The American Senate: An Insider's History

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ISBN: 9780190231965    Publisher: Oxford University Press Year of publishing: 2015     Format:  Paperback No of Pages: 480        Language: English
Winner of the Society for History in the Federal Government's George Pendleton Prize for 2013 The United States Senate has fallen on hard times. Once known as the greatest deliberative body in the world,...Read more
Winner of the Society for History in the Federal Government's George Pendleton Prize for 2013 The United States Senate has fallen on hard times. Once known as the greatest deliberative body in the world, it now has a reputation as a partisan, dysfunctional chamber. What happened to the house that forged American history's great compromises? In this groundbreaking work, a distinguished journalist and an eminent historian provide an insider's history of the United States Senate. Richard A. Baker, historian emeritus of the Senate, and the late Neil MacNeil, former chief congressional correspondent for Time magazine, integrate nearly a century of combined experience on Capitol Hill with deep research and state-of-the-art scholarship. They explore the Senate's historical evolution with one eye on persistent structural pressures and the other on recent transformations. Here, for example, are the Senate's struggles with the presidency-from George Washington's first, disastrous visit to the chamber on August 22, 1789, through now-forgotten conflicts with Presidents Garfield and Cleveland, to current war powers disputes.
The authors also explore the Senate's potent investigative power, and show how it began with an inquiry into John Brown's raid on Harpers Ferry in 1859. It took flight with committees on the conduct of the Civil War, Reconstruction, and World War II; and it gained a high profile with Joseph McCarthy's rampage against communism, Estes Kefauver's organized-crime hearings (the first to be broadcast), and its Watergate investigation. Within the book are surprises as well. For example, the office of majority leader first acquired real power in 1952-not with Lyndon Johnson, but with Republican Robert Taft. Johnson accelerated the trend, tampering with the sacred principle of seniority in order to control issues such as committee assignments. Rampant filibustering, the authors find, was the ironic result of the passage of 1960s civil rights legislation. No longer stigmatized as a white-supremacist tool, its use became routine, especially as the Senate became more partisan in the 1970s. Thoughtful and incisive, The American Senate: An Insider's History transforms our understanding of Congress's upper house.
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About the author: Neil MacNeil
Richard A. Baker was appointed the Senate's first official historian, a post he held from 1975 until his retirement in 2009. He produced a number of historical... Read more
Richard A. Baker was appointed the Senate's first official historian, a post he held from 1975 until his retirement in 2009. He produced a number of historical narratives, including 200 Notable Days: Senate Stories, 1787 to 2002 and Traditions of the United States Senate, and assisted Robert C. Byrd with The Senate, 1789-1989.
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Review:
This first-rate comprehensive study is likely to set the standard for historical scholarship on the US Senate. Chock-full of fascinating stores from insider's prespectives, The American Senate is...Read more
This first-rate comprehensive study is likely to set the standard for historical scholarship on the US Senate. Chock-full of fascinating stores from insider's prespectives, The American Senate is entertaining and engaging. The American Senate is a must read for any serious historian or political scientist, yet still accessible to the general public. Highly recommended. CHOICE Whether discussing money and elections, campaign reform, the origins of the filibuster, the Senate's investigatory power or its role in ratifying treaties or debating the great issues of the day, the authors pack the narrative with wide-ranging information and anecdotes." Kirkus Reviews An excellent choice for history buffs and political scientists. Library Journal A multidimensional study of the history, traditions and culture of the United States Senate... Whether discussing money and elections, campaign reform, the origins of the filibuster, the Senate's investigatory power or its role in ratifying treaties or debating the great issues of the day, the authors pack the narrative with wide-ranging information and anecdotes. A useful, engaging primer for anyone wishing to understand the politics, precedent and procedures that have shaped the Senate. Kirkus Reviews The American Senate should be required reading for anyone new to the chamber: interns, staffers, even senators. There's unlikely to be another single volume quite as comprehensive anytime soon, a fact that can probably be attributed to the authors." Roll Call [A] thoroughly researched book by two veteran Senate observers ... Baker has done a superb job of combining his deep knowledge of the Senate with that of McNeil, to complete it and illuminate the evolution of the upper chamber of Congress through the efforts of the more than 1,900 people who have served." The Hill
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