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The Last Great Senate: Courage and Statesmanship in Times of Crisisby Ira Shapiro
Synopses & Reviews
Journalists have called the U.S. Senate an empty chamber; politicians have lamented that the institution is broken—yet the Senate was once capable of greatness. Senators of the 1960s and 70s overcame southern opposition to civil rights, passed Great Society legislation, and battled the executive branch on Vietnam, Watergate, and its abuses of power. The rights sweep of the 1980 elections shattered that Senate, leaving a diminished institution in its wake.
Ira Shapiro spent 12 years working for Senators Gaylord Nelson, Abraham Ribicoff, Thomas Eagleton, Robert Byrd, and Jay Rockefeller. The Last Great Senate is his vivid portrait of the statesmen who helped steer America during the crisis years of the late 1970s, transcending partisanship and overcoming procedural roadblocks that have all but strangled the Senate since their departure. The Last Great Senate is necessary reading for all those who wonder how the Senate used to work and what happened to the worlds greatest deliberative body.
"At a time when the hapless U.S. Congress has received low approval ratings, Shapiro, a former Senate staffer and now an international trade lawyer, looks back at a golden era of lawmakers whoÂ performed admirably in a period of domestic and foreign crisis in the late 1970s. Using Capitol Hill documents, media accounts, and interviews with congressional and White House officials, he shows this was a time of active legislators on both sides of the aisle putting aside partisanship and ideology to create a national energy formula, strengthen the Panama Canal treaty, control a tax revolt, investigate Watergate, and stifle numerous crises in the Mideast. Shapiro ably paints the political stumbles of the 'outsider' administration of President Jimmy Carter in dealing with a congressional powerhouse consisting of senators Robert Byrd, Howard Baker, Ted Kennedy, Jacob Javits, Henry 'Scoop' Jackson, Richard Lugar, and George McGovern. The administration and the Senate were at odds over nuclear weapons reductions, OPEC schemes, and saving financially troubled New York City and Chrysler. In his chronicle of Beltway politics, Shapiro's excellent account of wise, capable U.S. senators putting constitutional concerns over party and ideology to do the people's business is a prime example of how Washington can overcome its present deadlock. Agent: Kathleen Anderson." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Ira Shapiro came to Washington in 1975 and spent 12 years working in senior positions in the Senate, playing important roles in accomplishments as diverse as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the Senate Code of Ethics, and completing the Metrorail system. During the Clinton administration, he served as a leading U.S. trade negotiator, ultimately earning the rank of ambassador. He lives in Potomac, Maryland.
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