front cover of Barbara F. Vucanovich
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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Barney Frank
The Story of America's Only Left-Handed, Gay, Jewish Congressman
Stuart Weisberg
University of Massachusetts Press, 2009
In a survey conducted by Washingtonian magazine, Barney Frank was rated the smartest, funniest, and most eloquent member of Congress. A mainstay in the House of Representatives since 1981, he has come to be known for his talent as a legislator, his zeal for verbal combat, his imposing intellect, and a quick wit that both disarms and entertains other lawmakers. Most recently, as chair of the Financial Services Committee, he was instrumental in crafting a compromise bill to stem the tide of home mortgage foreclosures, as well as the subsequent $700 billion "rescue plan."

Based on interviews with over 150 people, including more than thirty hours with Frank himself, this biography reconstructs for the first time his life and career, from his working-class childhood in Bayonne, New Jersey, to his years at Harvard and in Boston politics, through his rise to national prominence. Stuart Weisberg captures Frank in all his quirkiness, irreverence, and complexity. He also examines his less appealing side—his gruff exterior, his legendary impatience, his aversion to wasting time. Weisberg reveals the pressure Frank has felt as the most prominent openly gay politician in the United States, one whose career was nearly derailed by a highly publicized sex scandal involving a male prostitute.

Above all, this book shows Frank to be a superb legislator—a pragmatic politician who has dedicated his career to pursuing an unabashedly liberal agenda and whose depth of intellect and sense of humor have made him one of the most influential and colorful figures in Washington.
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Barry Goldwater and the Remaking of the American Political Landscape
Edited by Elizabeth Tandy Shermer
University of Arizona Press, 2013
Nearly four million Americans worked on Barry Goldwater’s behalf in the presidential election of 1964. These citizens were as dedicated to their cause as those who fought for civil rights and against the Vietnam War. Arguably, the conservative agenda that began with Goldwater has had effects on American politics and society as profound and far reaching as the liberalism of the 1960s. According to the essays in this volume, it’s high time for a reconsideration of Barry Goldwater’s legacy.

Since Goldwater’s death in 1998, politicians, pundits, and academics have been assessing his achievements and his shortcomings. The twelve essays in this volume thoroughly examine the life, times, and impact of “Mr. Conservative.” Scrutinizing the transformation of a Phoenix department store owner into a politician, de facto political philosopher, and five-time US senator, contributors highlight the importance of power, showcasing the relationship between the nascent conservative movement’s cadre of elite businessmen, newsmen, and intellectuals and their followers at the grassroots—or sagebrush—level.

Goldwater, who was born in the Arizona Territory in 1909, was deeply influenced by his Western upbringing. With his appearance on the national stage in 1964, he not only articulated a new brand of conservatism but gave a voice to many Americans who were not enamored with the social and political changes of the era. He may have lost the battle for the presidency, but he energized a coalition of journalists, publishers, women’s groups, and Southerners to band together in a movement that reshaped the nation.
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Belle and Bob La Follette
Partners in Politics
Bob Kann
Wisconsin Historical Society Press, 2008

The most famous couple in Wisconsin politics, "Fighting Bob" La Follette and his wife, Belle Case La Follette, come to life in the pages of the newest addition to the Badger Biographies series for young readers. In an accessible format that includes historic images, a glossary of terms, and sidebars explaining political concepts, students learn about Progressive politics and reform in the early 20th century through the experiences of this pioneering couple.

The father of "Progressive politics," Bob La Follette was famous for digging in his heels when it came to reforming government corruption. He also gained a reputation for fiery speeches on the campaign trail and on the Senate floor. Belle La Follette was political in her own right. The first woman to graduate from the University of Wisconsin's Law School, she was an advocate for world peace and an agitator for the women's vote. She was also Bob's most trusted political advisor. Together, the couple raised a family and fought for the changes they believed would make the world a better place.

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Bombast And Broadsides
The Lives of George Johnstone
Robin F. A. Fabel
University of Alabama Press, 1987
Presents the first coherent picture of George Johnstone, a controversial naval commander and governor of West Florida

George Johnstone has never received the scholarly attention he fully merits. Historians have assessed him, usually briefly, as governor of West Florida, or as naval commander, or as a member of parliament. Nevertheless, none has considered his important role in East India Company politics, nor, until Bombast and Broadsides, has one synthesized the various roles in which Johnstone was entrusted with high responsibilities.
 
Through research in Cardiff, Edinburgh, Kew, London, Philadelphia, and Washington in largely unpublished manuscripts, together with the use of secondary sources, the author has been able to present the first coherent picture of Johnstone, a vigorous and intelligent but turbulent and always controversial figure. Johnstone was effective as a colonial governor at a difficult time; in the navy he performed several coups de main; in parliament he was formidable in debate but an opportunist; and at East India House he was a doughty, conservative, and largely successful defender of the proprietary interest.
 
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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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Bridging the Divide
My Life
Edward W. Brooke
Rutgers University Press, 2006

President Lyndon Johnson never understood it. Neither did President Richard Nixon. How could a black man, a Republican no less, be elected to the United States Senate from liberal, Democratic Massachusetts-a state with an African American population of only 2 percent?

The mystery of Senator Edward Brooke's meteoric rise from Boston lawyer to Massachusetts attorney general to the first popularly elected African American U.S. senator with some of the highest favorable ratings of any Massachusetts politician confounded many of the best political minds of the day. After winning a name for himself as the first black man to be elected a state's attorney general, as a crime fighter, and as the organizer of the Boston Strangler Task Force, this articulate and charismatic man burst on the national scene in 1966 when he ran for the Senate.

In two terms in the Senate during some of the most racially tormented years of the twentieth century, Brooke, through tact, personality, charm, and determination, became a highly regarded member of "the most exclusive club in the world." The only African American senator ever to be elected to a second term, Brooke established a reputation for independent thinking and challenged the powerbrokers and presidents of the day in defense of the poor and disenfranchised.

In this autobiography, Brooke details the challenges that confronted African American men of his generation and reveals his desire to be measured not as a black man in a white society but as an individual in a multiracial society. Chided by some in the white community as being "too black to be white" and in the black community as "too white to be black," Brooke sought only to represent the people of Massachusetts and the national interest.

His story encompasses the turbulent post-World War II years, from the gains of the civil rights movement, through the riotous 1960s, to the dark days of Watergate, with stories of his relationships with the Kennedys, Martin Luther King Jr., Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Henry Kissinger, Colin Powell, and future senator Hillary Clinton. Brooke also speaks candidly of his personal struggles, including his bitter divorce from his first wife and, most recently, his fight against cancer.

A dramatic, compelling, and inspirational account, Brooke's life story demonstrates the triumph of the human spirit, offering lessons about politics, life, reconciliation, and love.

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Bridging the Information Gap
Legislative Member Organizations as Social Networks in the United States and the European Union
Nils Ringe and Jennifer Nicoll Victor with Christopher J. Carman
University of Michigan Press, 2013

Legislative member organizations (LMOs)—such as caucuses in the U.S. Congress and intergroups in the European Parliament—exist in lawmaking bodies around the world. Unlike parties and committees, LMOs play no obvious, predefined role in the legislative process. They provide legislators with opportunities to establish social networks with colleagues who share common interests. In turn, such networks offer valuable opportunities for the efficient exchange of policy-relevant—and sometimes otherwise unattainable—information between legislative offices. Building on classic insights from the study of social networks, the authors provide a comparative overview of LMOs across advanced, liberal democracies. In two nuanced case studies of LMOs in the European Parliament and the U.S. Congress, the authors rely on a mix of social network analysis, sophisticated statistical methods, and careful qualitative analysis of a large number of in-depth interviews.

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Bringing Representation Home
State Legislators among Their Constituencies
Michael A. Smith
University of Missouri Press, 2003
 “What is representation?” is a question that has been raised and discussed many times. In Bringing Representation Home, Michael A. Smith strays from the norm by asking instead, “How can we discover what representation is?” In pursuing the answer to this question, Smith focuses on what representation is in practice, not what it is in theory. Over the course of two legislative sessions, Smith interviewed and observed twelve state representatives in an effort to better understand and define their approaches to representation. He offers generalizations, but only after grounding his study in descriptions of representatives performing their jobs.
The twelve representatives are divided into four categories: Burkeans, in-district advocates, advocates beyond the district, and ombudspersons. Burkeans emphasize character and experience, advocates stress “socializing the conflict,” and ombudspersons underscore listening, responding, and compromising. Smith superbly builds his argument for this classification through an assortment of illustrative examples. He also makes a strong case that home style—the symbolic presentation that a representative makes at home in seeking political support from constituents—is a product of the interaction between the legislator’s personality and progressive ambition and the district’s characteristics and politics. Smith contends that the key to an effective representational strategy is for a representative to have not only an ideology that reflects the politics of his or her community, but also an understanding of the district’s interests, informed by interactions with organized constituencies at home.
            Smith helps personalize the legislators of this study, providing a balanced, realistic view. He also offers a new treatment of the representational roles concept, drawing on recent controversies in political science. In this context, he discusses works by Donald Searing, Richard Fenno, Burdett Loomis, and Malcolm Jewell, among others.
Because the nature of representation at the state level is such an important topic—one that will become even more important as state legislatures gain greater influence—Bringing Representation Home makes a vital contribution to political science literature. Written in an accessible and engaging style, this book will be of great interest to students and scholars of legislatures and state politics. 
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Burton Barr
Political Leadership and the Transformation of Arizona
Philip R. VanderMeer, Foreword by Alfredo Gutierrez
University of Arizona Press, 2014
Politics, like poker, requires timing and risk, and Burton Barr of Arizona knew it. The deal maker of Arizona politics would say, “You gotta know when to hold them.” For more than two decades, Barr played his political cards with skill as he led Arizona through an era of enormous growth and success.

Considered perhaps the most influential person in Arizona’s political development, Burton Barr represented north central Phoenix in the Arizona House of Representatives for the twenty-two years from 1964 to 1986. As the Republican House Majority Leader for twenty of those years, he left his fingerprints on every major piece of legislation during those decades, covering such issues as air pollution, health care for indigents, school aid, the tax code, prison reform, child care, groundwater management, and freeway funding.

Burton Barr’s political life unfolded during the very time his state and region shifted from being outliers to trendsetters. His choices in policy making and his leadership style were both an outcome and a creator of his sociopolitical environment. Arizona politics in the 1960s and ’70s was a rich brew of key elements, a time when the economy was being transformed, the nature and distribution of populations shifted, partisan politics were in flux, and the very lifeblood of the West—water—was being contested under increasing pressures of usage and depletion.

How Barr successfully responded to those challenges is the story of Arizona’s development during those years. At the heart of it, Barr’s political life and personality are inextricably bound up with the life of the West.
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