Friday, June 7, 2013

Notable E-Book:The American Senate: An Insider's History

Many of us have concluded that the political process in Washington is pretty much "broken."  But how did it get that way?  And does history help us to see not only the problem, but possible solutions?  This new book, delivered as an e-book on our eBrary platform, might have a few insights to offer.  Kirkus Reviews says that "Two longtime observers of our government in action offer a multidimensional study of the history, traditions and culture of the United States Senate." And, Oxford University Press, the publisher, claims it is a "groundbreaking, comprehensive history of the United States Senate" that comes from "twenty years of research by two of the authorities on Senate history, the longtime Time magazine congressional correspondent and the former Historian of the U.S. Senate."  They further suggest that the book "offers surprising insights into the origins of partisan gridlock."  If you'd like to see more from the publisher page, including a link to to a Google Books preview, click here.

The book is quite new, but (so far) the reviewers are impressed.  A review in Library Journal said "Journalist MacNeil (chief congressional correspondent, TIME; Forge of Democracy: The House of Representatives) and Baker (former official historian, U.S. Senate; Traditions of the United States Senate) survey here "the world's greatest deliberative body," in which 1,950 senators have served over the past 200-plus years. There's potential for a vast, bewildering story, but the authors don't lose the forest amid the trees. Particularly strong are their accounts of presidential interaction with the Senate, starting with President Washington, who personally visited the Senate in accord with his constitutional mandate to get their "Advice and Consent" but never visited again. The authors explain the rise in power of the majority leader-a development from the tenure of Republican Robert A. Taft in the 1940s and later Democrat Lyndon B. Johnson in the 1950s, and how incremental changes have created what they call the mess that is the modern filibuster....An excellent choice for history buffs and political scientists."

Kirkus Reviews was also enthusiastic: "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."  They concluded: "A useful, engaging primer for anyone wishing to understand the politics, precedent and procedures that have shaped the Senate."

And the journal Campaigns & Elections wrapped up their review by saying: "From the way money has changed the election of Senators to Senate investigations, no work will give you a better look into what's really happening inside the upper chamber."

E-books offer great flexibility, as you can read them--after authenticating yourself through our proxy server--without ever coming to the library.  (Although, we're always happy to see you!)  However, as with a physical book, only one reader can access this title at a time.  If you create an account with eBrary, you can download chapters onto your own device, though  For more on this option, see this Library Guide.

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