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Mr. Speaker!: The Life and Times of Thomas B. Reed, the Man Who Broke the Filibusterby James Grant
Synopses & Reviews
James Grants enthralling biography of Thomas B. Reed, Speaker of the House during one of the most turbulent times in American history—the Gilded Age, the decades before the ascension of reformer President Theodore Roosevelt—brings to life one of the brightest, wittiest, and most consequential political stars in our history.
The last decades of the nineteenth century were a volatile era of rampantly corrupt politics. It was a time of both stupendous growth and financial panic, of land bubbles and passionate and sometimes violent populist protests. Votes were openly bought and sold in a Congress paralyzed by the abuse of the House filibuster by members who refused to respond to roll call even when present, depriving the body of a quorum. Reed put an end to this stalemate, empowered the Republicans, and changed the House of Representatives for all time.
The Speakers beliefs in majority rule were put to the test in 1898, when the sinking of the U.S.S. Maine in Havana Harbor set up a popular clamor for war against Spain. Reed resigned from Congress in protest.
A larger-than-life character, Reed checks every box of the ideal biographical subject. He is an important and significant figure. He changed forever the way the House of Representatives does its business. He was funny and irreverent. He is, in short, great company. “What I most admire about you, Theodore,” Reed once remarked to his earnest young protégé, Teddy Roosevelt, “is your original discovery of the Ten Commandments.”
After he resigned his seat, Reed practiced law in New York. He was successful. He also found a soul mate in the legendary Mark Twain. They admired one anothers mordant wit. Grants lively and erudite narrative of this tumultuous era—the raucous late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries—is a gripping portrait of a United States poised to burst its bounds and of the men who were defining it.
James Grantand#8217;s enthralling biography of Thomas B. Reed, Speaker of the House during one of the most turbulent times in American historyand#8212;the decades before the ascension of reformer President Theodore Rooseveltand#8212;brings to life one of the brightest, wittiest, and most consequential political stars in our history, a man who changed forever the way the House of Representatives does its business by reforming the misuse of the filibuster.
“The most influential speaker of the House most people have never heard of…Reed makes for good copy…Grant has managed to rescue Reed from oblivion and to capture the raucous political atmosphere in which Reed did battle” (Jonathan Karl, The Wall Street Journal).
In a scholarly and fast-paced narrative, Grant describes the last decades of the nineteenth century in America—an era of rampantly corrupt politics where votes were bought and sold, Congress was paralyzed, an era of stupendous growth, financial panics, land bubbles, and populist protests. He follows the story through the career of Speaker of the House Thomas Reed, a neglected but fascinating figure, ripe for discovery.
About the Author
andlt;bandgt;James Grantandlt;/bandgt; founded andlt;iandgt;Grantand#8217;s Interest Rate Observerandlt;/iandgt; in 1983. He is the author of five books on finance and financial history as well as of the biography andlt;iandgt;John Adams: Party of One.andlt;/iandgt; He has appeared on andlt;iandgt;60 Minutes, Jim Lehrerand#8217;s News Hour,andlt;/iandgt; and andlt;iandgt;CBS Evening News.andlt;/iandgt;
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