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Arlen Specter
Scandals, Conspiracies, and Crisis in Focus
Evan Laine
University of Pittsburgh Press, 2021
From his early work as a lawyer on the Warren Commission investigating the assassination of President John F. Kennedy to his days as Philadelphia’s district attorney to his thirty-year career as a United States Senator from Pennsylvania, Arlen Specter found himself consistently in the middle of major historical events. During his five terms as senator, Specter met with the likes of Palestine Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat and Cuban Prime Minister Fidel Castro and made significant contributions during the fallout of both the Iran-Contra scandal and the Clinton impeachment. His work had a profound influence on the configuration of the United States Supreme Court, the criminal justice system, LGBTQ rights, and stem cell research. Photographs from Specter’s personal collection highlight many of these key moments, revealing the rich narrative not only of one man’s political career, but how it helped shape a nation. While it will probably be long debated whether Specter’s complex and controversial political legacy merits mainly praise or criticism, Arlen Specter sheds new light on the life of a man who fought to make a difference.
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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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Beyond Ideology
Politics, Principles, and Partisanship in the U. S. Senate
Frances E. Lee
University of Chicago Press, 2009

The congressional agenda, Frances Lee contends, includes many issues about which liberals and conservatives generally agree. Even over these matters, though, Democratic and Republican senators tend to fight with each other. What explains this discord? Beyond Ideology argues that many partisan battles are rooted in competition for power rather than disagreement over the rightful role of government.

The first book to systematically distinguish Senate disputes centering on ideological questions from the large proportion of them that do not, this volume foregrounds the role of power struggle in partisan conflict. Presidential leadership, for example, inherently polarizes legislators who can influence public opinion of the president and his party by how they handle his agenda. Senators also exploit good government measures and floor debate to embarrass opponents and burnish their own party’s image—even when the issues involved are broadly supported or low-stakes. Moreover, Lee contends, the congressional agenda itself amplifies conflict by increasingly focusing on issues that reliably differentiate the parties. With the new president pledging to stem the tide of partisan polarization, Beyond Ideology provides a timely taxonomy of exactly what stands in his way.

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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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The Changing Face of Representation
The Gender of U.S. Senators and Constituent Communications
Kim L. Fridkin and Patrick J. Kenney
University of Michigan Press, 2015

As the number of women in the U.S. Senate grows, so does the number of citizens represented by women senators. At the same time, gender remains a key factor in senators’ communications to constituents as well as in news media portrayals of senators. Focusing on 32 male and female senators during the 2006 congressional election year, Kim L. Fridkin and Patrick J. Kenney examine in detail senators’ official websites, several thousand press releases and local news stories, and surveys of 18,000 citizens to discern constituents’ attitudes about their senators.

The authors conclude that gender role expectations and stereotypes do indeed constrain representational and campaign messages and influence news coverage of both candidates and elected senators. Further, while citizens appear to be less influenced by entrenched stereotypes, they pay more attention to female senators’ messages and become more knowledgeable about them, in comparison to male senators.

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Constituencies and Leaders in Congress
Their Effects on Senate Voting Behavior
John E. Jackson
Harvard University Press, 1974

This study may be the most sophisticated statistical study of legislative voting now in print. The author asks why legislators, especially U.S. senators, vote as they do. Are they influenced by their constituencies, party, committee leaders, the President? By taking a relatively short time span, the years 1961 to 1963, the author is able to give us answers far beyond any we have had before, and some rather surprising ones at that.

Constituencies played a different, but more important role in senators' voting than earlier studies have shown. Senators appeared to be responding both to the opinion held by their constituents on different issues and to the intensity with which these opinions were held. On the interrelation of constituencies and party, Mr. Jackson finds that Republicans and southern Democrats were particularly influenced by their voters.

The clearest cases of leadership influence were among the non-southern members of the Democratic Party. Western Republicans, on the other hand, rejected the leadership of party members for that of committee leaders. Finally, on Presidential leadership, Mr. Jackson shows that John F. Kennedy influenced senators only during the first two years of his administration. All of these findings challenge conventional wisdom and are bound to influence future work in legislative behavior.

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Daniel Webster and the Oratory of Civil Religion
Craig R. Smith
University of Missouri Press, 2005
Daniel Webster (1782–1852) embodied the golden age of oratory in America by mastering each of the major genres of public speaking of the time. Even today, many of his victories before the Supreme Court remain as precedents. Webster served in the House, the Senate, and twice as secretary of state. He was so famous as a political orator that his reply “Liberty and Union, now and forever, one and inseparable!” to Senator Robert Hayne in a debate in 1830 was memorized by schoolboys and was on the lips of Northern soldiers as they charged forward in the Civil War. There would have been no 1850 Compromise without Webster, and without the Compromise, the Civil War might well have come earlier to an unprepared North.
Webster was also the consummate ceremonial speaker. He advanced Whig virtues and solidified support for the Union through civil religion, creating a transcendent symbol for the nation that became a metaphor for the working constitutional framework.
While several biographies have been written about Webster, none has focused on his oratorical talent. This study examines Webster’s incredible career from the perspective of his great speeches and how they created a civil religion that moved citizens beyond loyalty and civic virtue to true romantic patriotism. Craig R. Smith places Webster’s speeches in their historical context and then uses the tools of rhetorical criticism to analyze them. He demonstrates that Webster understood not only how rhetorical genres function to meet the expectations of the moment but also how they could be braided to produce long-lasting and literate discourse.
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Desire to Serve
The Autobiography of Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson
Cheryl Wattley
University of North Texas Press, 2024

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Don't Let the Fire Go Out!
Jean Carnahan
University of Missouri Press, 2004
The slogan Don’t Let the Fire Go Out! became the guiding force for Jean Carnahan as she confronted life’s challenges after her husband, son, and longtime friend were killed in a plane crash on October 16, 2000. The wife of Mel Carnahan, the well-known and highly respected Missouri governor and popular leader of the Democratic Party, Jean Carnahan made history when she agreed to serve in the U.S. Senate after Missouri voters elected her husband to the position posthumously. Don’t Let the Fire Go Out! is a fascinating and compelling look at the life of this amazingly strong woman.
Although the emphasis in this book is on the years 2000 through 2002—as Carnahan survived the tragic deaths of her loved ones and made her push forward with the campaign to fill what would have been her husband’s Senate seat—it also covers her family, her years of growing up in the Anacostia neighborhood of Washington, D.C., and her marriage to Mel Carnahan. She offers a rare, behind-the-scenes look at life in the Governor’s Mansion during her years as Missouri’s First Lady. The book also provides insight into Mel Carnahan’s devotion to public service. Jean Carnahan recounts her own introduction to the U.S. Senate, her struggle with the decision to vote against the confirmation of John Ashcroft as attorney general, her interactions with other senators, the loss of her Missouri farmhome to fire, a trip to Afghanistan, her reelection defeat in 2002, and countless other experiences that shaped her life and thought.
Don’t Let the Fire Go Out! is an intimate and revealing memoir of an extraordinary woman who overcame great tragedy to become the first woman from Missouri to serve as a United States senator. Resilient, intelligent, and charming, Jean Carnahan will inspire all who read her remarkable story.
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Education Of A Public Man
My Life and Politics
Hubert Humphrey
University of Minnesota Press, 1991

A candid look into the private and political life of Minnesota's native son.

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Ernest Gruening and the American Dissenting Tradition
Robert David Johnson
Harvard University Press, 1998

Ernest Gruening is perhaps best known for his vehement fight against U.S. military involvement in Vietnam, where he set himself apart by casting one of two votes against the Tonkin Gulf Resolution in 1964. However, as Robert Johnson shows in this political biography, it's Gruening's sixty-year public career in its entirety that provides an opportunity for historians to explore continuity and change in dissenting thought, on both domestic and international affairs, in twentieth-century America.

Gruening's outlook on domestic affairs took shape in the intellectual milieu of Progressive-era Boston, where he first devoted attention to foreign affairs in crusades against aggressive U.S. policies toward Haiti and Mexico. In the late 1920s, he was appointed editor of a reform newspaper in Portland, Maine, and moved from there to The Nation. By the early 1930s he had built a national reputation as an expert on Latin American affairs, prompting Franklin Roosevelt to appoint him chief U.S. policymaker for Puerto Rico. In 1939, Roosevelt named Gruening governor of Alaska, where for fourteen years he played a key role in the political development of the territory. In 1958 Alaskan voters elected him to the U.S. Senate, where he articulated a dissenting outlook in inter-American affairs, foreign aid policy, and the relationship between the federal government, the economy, and the issue of monopoly.

Throughout his life, Gruening struggled to reconcile his ideological perspective, which drew on dissenting ideas long embedded in American history, with a desire for political effectiveness.

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Estes Kefauver
A Biography
Charles L. Fontenay
University of Tennessee Press, 1980
Reviewed in the United States on December 14, 2009
 
In the 1950s and early 1960s, Estes Kefauver was everywhere in politics and government. He ran for president twice, was the 1956 Democratic Vice Presidential nominee, pioneered the use of television in Congressional hearings, and dug deep into many policy areas in the US Senate. Most students of politics or government have seen Kefauver's name, but there is surprisingly little comprehensive treatment of him as an individual and not as a part of a broader campaign, Senate history, or legislation. Charles Fortenay spent years trying to correct this vacancy in political biography. Fortenay's effort began during Kefauver's life, but took twenty-five years to get published and not in the form Fontenay had originally imagined.

But the product is a good one. Fontenay takes us from Kefauver's childhood in Tennessee, to his law career, to his service in the US House, to his campaign for the Senate, his pursuit of the presidency in the 1950s, and his legislative battles up to his early death in 1963. In doing so, Fortenay shows us the many paradoxes of Kefauver. Kefauver was a hard working, not particularly charismatic legislator. But he was also a great retail politician, embarrassing Harry Truman and Adlai Stevenson in multiple primaries throughout the 1950s. He was a something of a liberal, but he also looked down at women and was a swing vote on civil rights (To be fair, as a southern senator being a swing vote in civil rights is better than most of his colleagues). Kefauver maintained a close family life despite his active political career, but cheated on his wife fairly openly. Kefauver was ethical and principled (except when it came to monogamy), refusing to cut political deals to win the presidential nomination or keep gifts, but he had a constellation of wealthy friends who paid his personal expenses and bought stock based on the findings of a Congressional investigation.

Any politician, really any person, studied so closely shows some wrinkles. Kefauver is no different. But overall, Kefauver was a hard worker, progressive particularly for his state, and helped democratize the nominating process. In those respects, he is a model for modern senators.

A few nitpicks about the book. First, Fontenay writes that a Congressman Reece died and was replaced by his wife by appointment. Reece's wife won a special election because there are no appointments to fill House vacancies. Second, Fontenay short changes some of Kefauver's policy battles, including presidential succession which is of particular interest to me.

That aside, Fontenay writes a great book. His sources are varied from many personal interviews, to Kefauver's letters, to the biographies of other senators. He manages to balance the many names and personalities and does a particularly good job of explaining the political convention intrigue of the 1950s.

I highly recommend this book to students of politics, government, and history. It fills a void in the literature with the tale of a significant senator of the mid-20th century.
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Fighting Bob La Follette
The Righteous Reformer
Nancy C Unger
Wisconsin Historical Society Press, 2008
Now in paperback with a new preface, this comprehensive biography weaves the triumph and the tragedy of the public and private lives of the most famous of Wisconsin leaders, Robert "Fighting Bob" La Follette. As a U.S. representative, governor of Wisconsin, and U.S. Senator, La Follette's political legacies have been long lasting; among them are the election of senators by constituents, creation of the Department of Labor and the Federal Trade Commission, women's suffrage, and workers' compensation.
Through the personal letters, diaries, and documents of the La Follette family, Unger uses the private life of La Follette as a means for understanding the public figure. Thoroughly researched and documented, Fighting Bob La Follette: The Righteous Reformer is a testament to the progressive tradition in Wisconsin and its premier leader.
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Frank J. Cannon
Saint, Senator, Scoundrel
Val Holley
University of Utah Press, 2020
Utah’s path to statehood was the most tortuous in U.S. history, due in no small part to the Mormon practice of polygamy. Frank J. Cannon, newspaperman, Congressional delegate, and senator, guided Utah toward becoming the forty-fifth state in the Union in 1896. But when he lost favor with the LDS Church, his contributions fell into obscurity. In the 1880s, Congress dealt with the intransigence of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints over polygamy by enacting punitive new laws. Mormon lobbyists who pleaded for relief in Washington came home empty-handed before Cannon finally broke the logjam. He persuaded President Grover Cleveland to appoint judges who would deal mercifully with convicted polygamists and dissuaded Congress from disenfranchising all members by pledging that the church would abandon polygamy. But when Utah elected Mormon apostle Reed Smoot to the U.S. Senate in 1903, Cannon condemned what he called the reneging of LDS Church pledges to stay out of politics. He wrote scathing denunciations of Smoot and Mormon president Joseph F. Smith, co-authored the exposé Under the Prophet in Utah, and spearheaded the National Reform Association’s anti-Mormon crusade. Utah’s subsequent displeasure with Cannon ensured that his critical role in its statehood would be buried by omission.
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Frankly Speaking
The Extraordinary Life of United States Senator Frank R. Lautenberg
Bonnie Lautenberg
Rutgers University Press, 2024
Frank Lautenberg was the embodiment of the American dream. The son of Eastern European immigrants who toiled in the factories of northern New Jersey, he rose to become a Fortune 500 CEO and eventually a five-term US senator. Yet his is not a simple rags-to-riches tale, but is rather the story of someone who used his newfound affluence and influence to improve the lives of ordinary Americans.
 
Told by one of the people who knew him best, his widow Bonnie, Frankly Speaking reveals the political strategies that made Lautenberg one of the Senate’s most powerful advocates for the health and safety of America’s citizens. He championed seemingly minor, unglamorous reforms that made a big difference to everyday lives, from raising the national drinking age to preventing domestic abusers from purchasing guns. These campaigns earned him powerful enemies in the alcohol, tobacco, and firearms industries, and he was subjected to some of the most brutal campaign mudslinging in American history.  Yet, as this inspiring biography reveals, New Jersey’s longest-serving senator was not afraid to take big political risks if it meant standing up for his principles, whether that meant opposing the Iraq War or protecting LGBTQ and women’s rights. 
 
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Gaylord Nelson
Champion for Our Earth
Sheila Terman Cohen
Wisconsin Historical Society Press, 2010
Earth Day creator Gaylord Nelson comes to vivid life in this addition to the Badger Biographies series for young readers. Accessibly written and richly illustrated with historic images, Gaylord Nelson: Champion for Our Earth includes a glossary of terms, sidebars on World War II, DDT, and several facets of the environmental movement, plus activities and discussion questions.

Born in Clear Lake, Wisconsin, in 1916, Gaylord grew up as immersed in his parents' political work and community service as he was in playing practical jokes and exploring the natural world surrounding his home town. Along the way he encountered experiences that would shape him in fundamental ways: as a man who stood up for what he believed in the face of opposition and yet who also understood how to treat his opponents with respect. Both traits would serve him well as he rose from law student to state senator to Wisconsin governor and finally to three terms as a United States Senator.

Nelson fought to treat all races equally and to condemn McCarthy-era paranoia, but his greatest contribution was to sound the alarm about another battle: the fight to save the natural world and the earth itself. It was his idea to use teach-ins to let people know that the environment needed their help. Thanks to him, more natural resources were conserved and new laws demanded clean air and water. Now, every year on April 22, people all over the world plant trees and pick up litter to celebrate Earth Day. The Earth and its inhabitants aren't safe yet, but Gaylord Nelson demonstrated that even one person can help to save the world.

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The Gentleman from Illinois
Stories from Forty Years of Elective Public Service
Alan J. Dixon
Southern Illinois University Press, 2013
In 1993, Alan J. Dixon’s political career came to an end with a defeat—the first one in his forty-three years of elected service. Beginning his legislative career in 1950 as a Democrat in the Illinois House of Representatives, Dixon also served in the Illinois State Senate, worked as state treasurer and secretary of state, and concluded his political career as a U.S. senator. The Gentleman from Illinois is an insider’s account of Illinois politics in the second half of the twentieth century, providing readers with fascinating stories about the people he encountered and events he participated in and witnessed during his four decades of service.
 
With a degree of candor often unheard of in political memoirs, The Gentleman from Illinois reveals Dixon’s abilities as a storyteller. At times chatty and self-effacing, Dixon pulls no punches when it comes to detailing the personalities of major political figures—such as Mayor Richard J. Daley, Adlai Stevenson, Paul Simon, and presidents of the United States. Indeed, he uses this same honest approach when examining himself, fully describing the setbacks and embarrassing moments that peppered his own life.
 
As a moderate Democrat who regularly crossed party lines in his voting and his views, Dixon also shares his thoughts on the proper way to run a government, the difficulties of passing legislation, the balancing act required to be a statewide official, and other valuable observations on local, state, and national politics. Full of behind-the-scenes insights presented in 121 short vignettes, The Gentleman from Illinois entertains as much as it informs, making it a necessary book for everyone interested in Illinois politics.
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Hattie and Huey
An Arkansas Tour
David Malone
University of Arkansas Press, 1990
During the first eight scorching days of August in 1932, U.S. Senator Huey P. Long of Louisiana campaigned in Arkansas for the election of Hattie Caraway to the U.S. Senate. Caraway easily defeated six well-known opponents in a race she was not expected to win and became the first woman to be elected to the U.S. Senate. This volume is a textbook of politics and a sweeping picture of the Great Depression, as if those perilous times had been compressed into a week and a day. It is a fascinating look at two extremely different people caught briefly in a common purpose.
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Henry M. Teller
Colorado's Grand Old Man
Duane A. Smith
University Press of Colorado, 2002
Serving longer in the U.S. Senate than any other Coloradan, Henry M. Teller was one of the Centennial State's greatest statesmen and political leaders. Now Duane A. Smith, author of Horace Tabor: His Life and the Legend, rescues this larger-than-life figure from obscurity in this new and definitive biography of the Central City lawyer turned Colorado senator. Teller was a prime example of what a politician should be in an era when elected officials left a great deal to be desired. As Colorado's representative, Teller stated his beliefs and stuck by them. Not all agreed with him, but all admired him for his honesty and integrity. His legal career in Colorado encompassed much of the early legislation in the territory, such as developing mining law and the organization of the Colorado Central Railroad, while his Washington career touched on nearly every important western economic development issue that occurred in Colorado between 1876 and 1909. Teller declared to the U.S. Congress that Colorado was a part of the nation, and that the West deserved a say in its decisions. Incorporating extensive primary and secondary sources, federal documents, the Teller papers, a wealth of newspaper articles, and a superb array of photographs, Smith's biography will be a wonderful source for anyone interested in Colorado history and the political past of the state and nation.
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The Heroic and the Notorious
U.S. Senators from Illinois
David Kenney and Robert E. Hartley
Southern Illinois University Press, 2012

This sweeping survey constitutes the first comprehensive treatment of the men and women who have been chosen to represent Illinois in the United States Senate from 1818 to the present day. David Kenney and Robert E. Hartley underscore nearly two centuries of Illinois history with these biographical and political portraits, compiling an incomparably rich resource for students, scholars, teachers, journalists, historians, politicians, and any Illinoisan interested in the state’s senatorial heritage.

Originally published as An Uncertain Tradition: U.S. Senators From Illinois 1818–2003, this second edition brings readers up to date with new material on Paul Simon, Richard Durbin, and Peter Fitzgerald, as well as completely new sections on Roland Burris, Barack Obama, and Illinois’s newest senator, Mark Kirk. This fresh and careful study of the shifting set of political issues Illinois’s senators encountered over time is illuminated by the lives of participants in the politics of choice and service in the Senate. Kenney and Hartley offer incisive commentary on the quality of Senate service in each case, as well as timeline graphs relating to the succession of individuals in each of the two sequences of service, the geographical distribution of senators within the state, and the variations in party voting for Senate candidates. Rigorously documented and supremely readable, this convenient reference volume is enhanced by portraits of many of the senators.

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The Infamous King Of The Comstock
William Sharon And The Gilded Age In The West
Michael J. Makley
University of Nevada Press, 2009
William Sharon was one of the most colorful scoundrels in the nineteenth-century mining West. He epitomized the robber barons of the nation’s Gilded Age and the political corruption and moral decay for which that period remains notorious; yet he was also a visionary capitalist who controlled more than a dozen of the greatest mines on Nevada’s mighty Comstock Lode, built the Virginia & Truckee Railroad, manipulated speculation and prices on the San Francisco Stock Exchange, and revived the collapsed Bank of California. One enemy called him “a thoroughly bad man—a man entirely void of principle,” while a Comstock neighbor called him “one of the best men that ever lived in Virginia City.” Both descriptions were reasonably accurate. In this first-ever biography of one of Nevada’s most reviled historical figures, author Michael Makley examines Sharon’s complex nature and the turbulent times in which he flourished. Arriving in San Francisco shortly after the Gold Rush began, Sharon was soon involved in real estate, politics, banking, and stock speculation, and he was a party in several of the era’s most shocking business and sexual scandals. When he moved to Virginia City, Nevada’s mushrooming silver boomtown, his business dealings there soon made him known as the “King of the Comstock.” Makley’s engaging and meticulously researched account not only lays bare the life of the notorious but enigmatic Sharon but examines the broader historical context of his career—the complex business relationships between San Francisco and the booming gold and silver mining camps of the Far West; the machinations of rampant Gilded Age capitalism; and the sophisticated financial and technological infrastructure that supported Virginia City’s boomtown economy. The Infamous King of the Comstock offers a significant fresh perspective on Nevada and the mining West.
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It's Not Personal
Politics and Policy in Lower Court Confirmation Hearings
Logan Dancey, Kjersten R. Nelson, and Eve M. Ringsmuth
University of Michigan Press, 2020

In order to be confirmed to a lifetime appointment on the federal bench, all district and circuit court nominees must appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee for a confirmation hearing. Despite their relatively low profile, these lower court judges make up 99 percent of permanent federal judgeships and decide cases that relate to a wide variety of policy areas. To uncover why senators hold confirmation hearings for lower federal court nominees and the value of these proceedings more generally, the authors analyzed transcripts for all district and circuit court confirmation hearings between 1993 and 2012, the largest systematic analysis of lower court confirmation hearings to date. The book finds that the time-consuming practice of confirmation hearings for district and circuit court nominees provides an important venue for senators to advocate on behalf of their policy preferences and bolster their chances of being re-elected. The wide variation in lower court nominees’ experiences before the Judiciary Committee exists because senators pursue these goals in different ways, depending on the level of controversy surrounding a nominee. Ultimately, the findings inform a (re)assessment of the role hearings play in ensuring quality judges, providing advice and consent, and advancing the democratic values of transparency and accountability.

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The Jeffords Switch
Changing Majority Status and Causal Processes in the U.S. Senate
Chris Den Hartog and Nathan W. Monroe
University of Michigan Press, 2019

Senator Jim Jeffords left the Republican Party in May 2001 and became an independent. Because he agreed to vote with the Democrats on organizational votes, this gave that party a 51–49 majority in the Senate.

Using the “Jeffords switch,” Chris Den Hartog and Nathan W. Monroe examine how power is shared and transferred in the Senate, as well as whether Democratic bills became more successful after the switch. They also use the data after the switch, when the Republican Party still held a majority on many Democratic Party-led committees, to examine the power of the committee chairs to influence decisions. While the authors find that the majority party does influence Senate decisions, Den Hartog and Monroe are more interested in exploring the method and limits of the majority party to achieve its goals.

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Joe T. Robinson
Always a Loyal Democrat
Cecil Weller
University of Arkansas Press, 1998

Senate majority leader Joseph Taylor Robinson was undoubtedly one of the most powerful U.S. senators of the early twentieth century. An important political figure in Arkansas from the time he was elected to the state legislature in 1895, Joe T., as he was popularly called became nationally prominent when he ascended to the Democratic leadership of the U.S. Senate in 1923.

Robinson’s career spanned momentous legislative debates in the chambers of the Senate, such as the League of Nations charter, the Teapot Dome Scandal, and FDR’s plan to “pack” the Supreme Court. His run for the vice-presidency in 1928, the first Southerner on a major ticket after the Civil War, and his three terms as chairman of the Democratic National Convention, in 1920, 1928, and 1936, are all covered in this perceptive study.

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Justin Smith Morrill
Father of the Land-Grant Colleges
Coy F. Cross II
Michigan State University Press, 1999

Smith Morrill: Almost every land-grant college or university in the United States has a building named for him; but are his contributions truly recognized and understood? Here is the first biography on this renowned statesman in six decades. Representative and then senator from Vermont, Morrill began his tenure in Congress in 1855 and served continuously for forty-three years. His thirty- one years in the upper chamber alone earned him the title "Father of the Senate." Coy F. Cross reveals a complex and influential political figure who, as chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, and then the Senate Finance Committee, influenced American economic policy for nearly fifty years.  
     Morrill's most-recognized achievements are the pieces of legislation that bear his name: the Morrill land-grant college acts of 1862 and 1890. His legacy, inspired by the Jeffersonian ideal of an educated electorate, revolutionized American higher education. Prior to this legislation, colleges and universities were open primarily to affluent white men and studies were limited largely to medicine, theology, and philosophy. Morrill's land-grant acts eventually opened American higher education to the working class, women, minorities, and immigrants. Since 1862, more than 20 million people have graduated from the 104 land-grant colleges and universities spawned by his grand vision. In this long-overdue study, Cross shows the "Father of Land-Grant Colleges" to be one of America's formative nineteenth- century political figures.

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The Last Great Senator
Robert C. Byrd's Encounters with Eleven U.S. Presidents
David Corbin
West Virginia University Press, 2015

No person involved in so much history received so little attention as the late Robert C. Byrd, the longest-serving U.S. senator. In The Last Great Senator, David A. Corbin examines Byrd’s complex and fascinating relationships with eleven presidents of the United States, from Eisenhower to Obama. Furthermore, Byrd had an impact on nearly every significant event of the last half century, including the Cold War, the civil rights movement, the Vietnam War, Kennedy’s New Frontier, the Watergate scandal, the Reagan Revolution, the impeachment of President Clinton, and the Iraq War. Holding several Senate records, Byrd also cast more votes than any other U.S. senator. 

In his sweeping portrait of this eloquent and persuasive man’s epic life and career, Corbin describes Senator Byrd’s humble background in the coalfields of southern West Virginia (including his brief membership in the Ku Klux Klan). He covers Byrd’s encounters and personal relationship with each president and his effect on events during their administrations. Additionally, the book discusses Byrd’s interactions with other notable senators, including Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard Russell, Mike Mansfield, and especially Robert and Edward Kennedy. Going beyond the boundaries of West Virginia and Capitol Hill, The Last Great Senator presents Byrd in a larger historical context, where he rose to the height of power in America.

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Leadership in Committee
A Comparative Analysis of Leadership Behavior in the U.S. Senate
C. Lawrence Evans
University of Michigan Press, 2001

How does the leadership of a Senate committee influence the outcome of bills? In Leadership in Committee C. Lawrence Evans delves into the behavior of legislative leaders and the effects of what they do, how their tactics vary, and why. Using evidence gleaned from personal interviews with a large number of U.S. senators and Senate staff, the author compares the leadership styles of eight committee chairs and ranking minority members in the U.S. Senate. The result is a significant contribution to the literature on American politics, the first book-length, comparative analysis of legislative leadership behavior in the modern Senate.

". . . .this book is highly recommended reading for those interested in both legislative politics and political leadership. . . .Leadership in Committee establishes Evans as one of the handful of political scientists who have done justice to the subtleties of politics in the modern Senate."
---Randall Strahan, Journal of Politics

"Larry Evans has significantly influenced my own work over the years, and Leadership in Committee is one reason why. It is a model of great scholarship, the best work on committee leadership ever written. It has the discriminatory sense of context that appears only when the author truly knows his subject. It is theoretical without being reductionist or vacuously abstract. Its principal claims are general yet sufficiently concrete to be testable, and Evans provides systematic, comparative evidence to support (or qualify) each of them. Larger issues of agenda-setting, institutional structure, partisanship, anticipated reactions, participation, committee-floor bargaining, and strategic action of various kinds receive thoughtful and insightful examination. And the book is simply a terrific read. Too long in coming, the publication of Leadership in Committee in paperback ought to spark a well-deserved revival of interest in this work."
---Richard L. Hall, University of Michigan

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Lister Hill
Statesman from the South
Virginia Van der Veer Hamilton
University of Alabama Press, 2004
"Hamilton makes clear in this intelligent and sensitive biography [that] Hill, whose 45 years in Congress spanned the presidents from Calvin Coolidge to Lyndon Johnson, deserves to be remembered, both for the impressive legislative record he compiled and for the light he shed on southern liberalism in the 20th century." -- Journal of Southern History "Hamilton's fine book is based on extensive research [and] it will be of interest to a general audience as well as to scholars." -- Journal of American History "This is an important work about a highly influential lawmaker." Choice Virginia Van der Veer Hamilton is Professor Emerita of History at The University of Alabama at Birmingham and author of Hugo Black: The Alabama Years.
[more]

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The Man from Clear Lake
Earth Day Founder Senator Gaylord Nelson
Bill Christofferson
University of Wisconsin Press, 2009

    On Earth Day 1970 twenty million Americans displayed their commitment to a clean environment.  It was called the largest demonstration in human history, and it permanently changed the nation’s political agenda. By Earth Day 2000 participation had exploded to 500 million people in 167 countries.
    The seemingly simple idea—a day set aside to focus on protecting our natural environment—was the brainchild of U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin. It accomplished, far beyond his expectations, his lifelong goal of putting the environment onto the nation’s and the world’s political agendas.
    A remarkable man, Nelson ranks as one of history’s leading environmentalists. He also played a major role as an early, outspoken opponent of the Vietnam War, and as a senate insider was a key player in civil rights, poverty, civil liberties and consumer protection issues.
    The life of Nelson, a small town boy who learned his values and progressive political principles at an early age, is woven through the political history of the twentieth century. Nelson’s story intersects at times with Fighting Bob La Follette, Joe McCarthy, and Bill Proxmire in Wisconsin, and with George McGovern, Lyndon Johnson, Hubert Humphrey, Russell Long, Walter Mondale, John F. Kennedy, and others on the national scene.

Winner, Elizabeth A. Steinberg Prize, University of Wisconsin Press

[more]

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My Life in Nevada Politics
The Memoirs of Senator Richard H. Bryan
Richard H. Bryan
University of Nevada Press, 2024
My Life in Nevada Politics tells the entertaining, informative, and at times poignant story of the rise of Richard Bryan from humble beginnings in Las Vegas to the pinnacle of Nevada politics during a time of great change across the state and nation. Through his memoir, Bryan provides keen insight into the mechanics of politics, and the book serves as a must-read for anyone interested in the history of the Silver State.

Born in Washington, D.C. in 1937, Bryan grew up in Las Vegas. His interest in politics started early, winning school-class elections and expressing a personal goal of one day becoming Governor of Nevada. He was elected student body president at the University of Nevada.

His career in public service began as a deputy district attorney in Clark County. In 1966, he became the first county public defender in state history. Bryan served in the Nevada Legislature in both the Assembly and Senate before winning the statewide office of Attorney General in 1978. He was elected Nevada Governor in 1982, winning re-election in 1986. Bryan was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1988, reelected in 1994, and served on the committees on Commerce, Banking, Taxation, and Intelligence, and chaired the Ethics Committee. He retired from the Senate in 2001 and returned to Nevada.

Bryan’s list of accomplishments is extensive. He was largely responsible for the early call-to-arms in the fight against the Department of Energy’s attempt to create a nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain. As governor, he reorganized state economic development programs, improved environmental protections for Lake Tahoe and other threatened areas, and made unprecedented appointments of women. In the Senate, Bryan authored the Southern Nevada Public Lands Management Act and the National Conservation Area for the High Rock Desert country. He had a front-row seat to the historic buildup to the Iraq War and the impeachment of President Bill Clinton. In retirement, Bryan continues to serve the state through his participation on a wide range of committees. 

Throughout his political career, Bryan, with wife Bonnie at his side, traversed Nevada from its tiniest hamlets to the metro areas of Reno and Las Vegas with unrivaled zeal in his efforts to represent the state’s citizens. He is famous for knowing thousands of his constituents not only by their first names, but also recalling details of their lives. The simple fact is, while in service to Nevada, Bryan was in his element in the place he loves best.
[more]

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No Place for a Woman
A Life of Senator Margaret Chase Smith
Sherman, Janann
Rutgers University Press, 1999

No Place for a Woman is the first biography to analyze Margaret Chase Smith’s life and times by using politics and gender as the lens through which we can understand this Maine senator’s impact on American politics and American women. Sherman’s research is based upon more than one hundred hours of personal interviews with Senator Smith, and extensive research in primary and government documents, including those from the holdings of the Margaret Chase Smith Library.

[more]

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Ohio’s Kingmaker
Mark Hanna, Man and Myth
William T. Horner
Ohio University Press, 2010

For a decade straddling the turn of the twentieth century, Mark Hanna was one of the most famous men in America. Portrayed as the puppet master controlling the weak-willed William McKinley, Hanna was loved by most Republicans and reviled by Democrats, in large part because of the way he was portrayed by the media of the day. Newspapers and other media outlets that supported McKinley reported positively about Hanna, but those sympathetic to William Jennings Bryan, the Democrats’ presidential nominee in 1896 and 1900, attacked Hanna far more aggressively than they attacked McKinley himself. Their portrayal of Hanna was wrong, but powerful, and this negative image of him survives to this day.

In this study of Mark Hanna’s career in presidential politics, William T. Horner demonstrates the flaws inherent in the ways the news media cover politics. He deconstructs the myths that surround Hanna and demonstrates the dangerous and long-lasting effect that inaccurate reporting can have on our understanding of politics. When Karl Rove emerged as the political adviser to George W. Bush’s presidential campaigns, the reporters quickly began to compare Rove to Hanna even a century after Hanna’s death. The two men played vastly different roles for the presidents they served, but modern reporters consistently described Rove as the second coming of Mark Hanna, another political Svengali.

Ohio’s Kingmaker is the story of a fascinating character in American politics and serves to remind us of the power of (mis)perceptions.

[more]

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On Parliamentary War
Partisan Conflict and Procedural Change in the U.S. Senate
James I. Wallner
University of Michigan Press, 2017
Dysfunction in the contemporary Senate is driven by the deteriorating relationship between the majority and minority parties in the institution. In this environment, regular order is virtually nonexistent and unorthodox parliamentary procedures are frequently needed to pass important legislation. This is because Democrats and Republicans are now fighting a parliamentary war in the Senate to help steer the future direction of the country. James Wallner presents a new, bargaining model of procedural change to better explain the persistence of the filibuster in the current polarized environment, and focuses on the dynamics ultimately responsible for the nature and direction of contested procedural change. Wallner’s model explains why Senate majorities have historically tolerated the filibuster, even when it has been used to defeat their agenda, despite having the power to eliminate it unilaterally at any point. It also improves understanding of why the then-Democratic majority chose to depart from past practice when they utilized the nuclear option to eliminate the filibuster for one of President Barack Obama’s judicial nominees in 2013. On Parliamentary War’s game-theoretic approach provides a more accurate understanding of the relationship between partisan conflict and procedural change in the contemporary Senate.
 
[more]

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One and Inseparable
Daniel Webster and the Union
Maurice G. Baxter
Harvard University Press, 1984

From the ratification of the Constitution to the outbreak of the Civil War, few persons played a greater role in American history than Daniel Webster. He was a spokesman of New England commercial interests in the War of 1812, approving the threat of state interposition by the Hartford Convention; later an apostle of the industrial system and advocate of protective tariffs; a brilliant expositor of the Constitution as an instrument for national economic growth and strong central government; the architect of a foreign policy that brought permanent peace between the United States and England; the Great Compromiser who, as much as any other public man, tried to reconcile the clashing interests of North and South.

Despite his importance Webster has never been the subject of a full-scale, scholarly biography. Maurice G. Baxter’s One and Inseparable traces the interrelated evolution of the public career and the private life of this imposing and controversial Yankee. He portrays Webster as an unswerving patriot, an advocate of nationality, and a champion of peace and the Union—but also reveals him as a self-promoting politician who varied his positions to suit the interests of his constituents and was sometimes insensitive to the great moral issues of his day. This devoted family man, enterprising if not altogether successful farmer, and genial companion could he egotistical, immoderate in his drinking habits, and careless about personal finances. Reading Baxter’s lucid, moving biography it is possible to understand why Ralph Waldo Emerson so detested Daniel Webster but also called him “the completest man” produced by America, adding: “Nature had not in our days, or not since Napoleon, cut out such a masterpiece.”

[more]

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Pat Mccarran
Political Boss Of Nevada
Jerome E. Edwards
University of Nevada Press, 1982
Although Patrick A. McCarran represented one of the least populated states in the country, he gained a national reputation as a U.S. Senator from Nevada. He entered the political spotlight by locking horns with the Roosevelt and Truman administrations on foreign policy, internal security, and many domestic issues. His strategic use of committee assignments, coupled with a strong backing of loyal, home-state supporters, enabled him to achieve a powerful position in the government.

Within his native state of Nevada, McCarran constructed a machine designed to dominate the state’s political and economic life. This domination, which extended to both political parties, was built on personal favors for constituents, shrewd use of patronage, rewards for friends, and inevitable punishment for those suspected of being enemies. Ironically, the Senator employed the same tactics that others had once used against him to stymie his own early political efforts.

This work discusses the Senator’s background, his rise to power, and his methods of establishing political domination. Personal correspondence, excerpts from speeches, newspaper editorials, and interviews all help bring to life a colorful account of a controversial, driven man who held the levers of political control in Nevada during the early twentieth century.

[more]

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Paul Simon
The Political Journey of an Illinois Original
Robert E. Hartley
Southern Illinois University Press, 2009

With Paul Simon: The Political Journey of an Illinois Original, author Robert E. Hartley presents the first thorough, objective volume on the journalistic and political career of one of Illinois’s most respected public figures. Hartley’s detailed account offers a fully rounded portrait of a man whose ideals and tenacity not only spurred reform on both state and national levels during his celebrated forty-year career but also established the lasting legacy of a political legend.

Simon first became a public figure at the age of nineteen, when he assumed the post of editor and publisher of a weekly newspaper in Troy, Illinois. From there, he used his paper to launch a fierce crusade against the crime and corruption plaguing Madison County. This battle sparked his entry into politics, helping to land him a seat in the state legislature in 1954. While serving, he campaigned tirelessly according to his principles, earning him the mass voter approval that would usher him into the seat of lieutenant governor in 1968—the first person elected to that position who did not share party affiliation with the governor.

As lieutenant governor, Simon initiated many changes to the position, remaking it to better serve the citizens of the state of Illinois. The cornerstone of his reform plan was an ombudsman program designed to allow the people of the state to voice problems they had with government and state agencies. The program, extremely popular with the public and the press, solved problems and helped to make Simon a household name throughout Illinois. Although he faced challenges along the way, including racial upheaval in Cairo and the student and police riots on the Carbondale campus of Southern Illinois University, Simon’s outspoken honesty and strong support of his constituents earned him the utmost esteem and popularity.

While his 1972 bid for governor of Illinois ultimately failed, this did not deter Simon from his dedication to social progress. In 1974 he began his remarkable twenty-two-year career in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate, where he earned the admiration of the country for his political integrity. Despite the praise and support Simon had earned during his time in Washington, he was unable to win the Democratic presidential nomination in 1988 and returned to the Senate, winning a second term in 1990.  Simon committed time and energy to the myriad issues of interest to him, especially in the field of education, with one of his biggest successes coming with the passage of the National Literacy Act, which he sponsored. He continued to foster his ties to journalism throughout his lengthy political career, authoring numerous books, articles, and columns, all of which he used to relentlessly promote open government and social programs.

            This vivid account of the public life of Paul Simon reveals a man whose personal honor and dedication were unshakeable throughout nearly half a century in the political arena. Robert E. Hartley provides a candid perspective on Simon’s accomplishments and victories, as well as his mistakes and losses, revealing new insights into the life of this dynamic and widely respected public figure.

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Paul Wellstone
The Life of a Passionate Progressive
Bill Lofy
University of Michigan Press, 2005
"Paul Wellstone, we miss you. Few politicians, especially these days, are as willing to stand up and speak the truth as Wellstone was. In this era of flaccid rhetoric and pre-approved sound bites, he had the rare ability to ignite a fire in his audiences. Bill Lofy's excellent biography rekindles that fire and reminds us just how much politicians of Wellstone's honesty, character, and spine are needed---now more than ever. This book should inspire a new generation of voters and political leaders alike."
---Arianna Huffington, columnist and editor of HuffingtonPost.com

"This book captures the vibrant spirit of my friend Paul Wellstone---the fierce commitment to justice that defined his life, and that shapes his enduring legacy."
---U.S. Senator Russ Feingold

"Paul Wellstone was a great leader because he fused progressive idealism with a stubbornly pragmatic politics. Bill Lofy's book captures that dual commitment in his story of Wellstone's life, and also shows us the extraordinary human appeal that Wellstone emanated in his relationships with people in all walks of life. This book is an engaging read that also tells us a lot about the political practice to which we should aspire."
---Frances Fox Piven, author of The War at Home

"This vividly written book captures the life and personal qualities of the late Senator Paul Wellstone. In so doing it provides an illuminating gloss on Max Weber's seminal exposition of the political vocation. It is a jewel of a book."
-Fred Greenstein, Princeton University


Bill Lofy's fast-paced and readable biography tells the inspirational story of one of the most compelling figures in the history of American politics---Senator Paul Wellstone.

Yet Lofy's book is more than just the chronicle of Wellstone's life and political career; it's also an indispensable guide to what ails political life today. Readers politically inclined or not will find in its pages a handbook to the uncertain and often treacherous business of politics and a stirring example for living a courageous and honest life---whether as public servant or private individual.
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Philip Hart
the conscience of the Senate
Michael O'Brien
Michigan State University Press, 1995
Never a fiery orator nor a seeker of headlines, Phil Hart earned after eighteen years in congress the title of "The Conscience of the Senate" from colleauges on both sides of the aisle. Author and sponsor of critical legislation, particulalry in the areas of civil rights, antitrust enforcement, and consumer and and environmental protection, Hart took great pride in the fact that he was a leader in the Senate fight for the Voting Rights Act of 1965. He was intelligent and committed, idealistic and courageous, honest and humble, taking stands on contraversial issues. A role model for many, an inspiration for others, the extent of his influence was demonstrated in the fall of 1976 as he was retiring from the Senate and dying of cancer. In a tribute to his distinguished career, Senator Edward Kennedy suggested that the new Senate building be named after Hart. A bill sponsored by 85 senators passed, and the new structure became the Phil A. Hart Senate Office Building. "Naming it for Phil Hart was a nice gesture," wrote columnist Mary McGrory, "and if they could build his qualities...into the walls, we would have a Senate that would astound the world with its civility and enlightenment."
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Please Pass the Biscuits, Pappy
Pictures of Governor W. Lee "Pappy" O'Daniel
By Bill Crawford
University of Texas Press, 2004

Long before movie stars Ronald Reagan and Arnold Schwarzenegger became governors of California, a popular radio personality with no previous political experience—who wasn't even registered to vote—swept into the governor's office of Texas. W. Lee "Pappy" O'Daniel was a 1930s businessman who discovered the power of radio to sell flour. His musical shows with the Light Crust Doughboys (which launched the career of Bob Wills) and his radio homilies extolling family and Christian values found a vast, enthusiastic audience in Depression-era Texas. When Pappy decided to run for governor in 1938 as a way to sell more flour—a fact he proudly proclaimed throughout the campaign—the people of Texas voted for him in record numbers. And despite the ineptitude for politics he displayed once in office, Texans returned him to the governorship in 1940 and then elected him to the U.S. Senate in 1941 in a special election in which he defeated Lyndon Johnson, as well as to a full term as senator in 1942.

While the hit film O Brother, Where Art Thou? celebrated a fictional "Please Pass the Biscuits, Pappy" O'Daniel, this book captures the essence of the real man through photographs taken by employees of the Texas Department of Public Safety, most of which are previously unpublished. Reminiscent of the work of WPA photographers such as Russell Lee and Dorothea Lange, these photos record the last unscripted era of politics when a charismatic candidate could still address a crowd from an unpainted front porch or a mobile bandstand in the back of a truck. They strikingly confirm that Pappy O'Daniel's ability to connect with people was as great in person as on the radio.

To set the photos in context, Bill Crawford has written an entertaining text that discusses the political landscape in Texas and the United States in the 1930s, as well as the rise of radio as mass medium for advertising and entertainment. He also provides extensive captions for each picture. John Anderson, Photo Archivist of the Texas State Archives, discusses the work of Joel Tisdale and the other DPS photographers who left this extraordinary record of the greatest vote-getter in Texas history, who became one of America's first celebrities to cross the line from entertainment to political office.

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A Political Education
A Washington Memoir
By Harry McPherson
University of Texas Press, 1995

This insider's view of Washington in the 1950s and 1960s, of the tumultuous presidency of Lyndon Johnson, and of the conflicts and factions of the president's staff has become a political classic since its original publication in 1972. In this reissue, Harry McPherson adds a new preface in which he reflects on changes in Washington since the Johnson era and on the lessons Bill Clinton could learn from the presidency of Lyndon Johnson.

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The Politics of Fear
Joseph R. McCarthy and the Senate
Robert W. Griffith
University of Massachusetts Press, 1987
Describes the career of Senator McCarthy and explains how he was able to gain so much influence over the U.S. Senate.
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Proxmire
Bulldog of the Senate
Jonathan Kasparek
Wisconsin Historical Society Press, 2019
Proxmire: Bulldog of the Senate is the first comprehensive biography of one of Wisconsin’s most important, and entertaining, political figures. Known for championing consumer-protection legislation and farming interests, Senator Proxmire also fought continuously against wasteful government spending, highlighting the most egregious examples with his monthly “Golden Fleece Award.” Remembered by many Wisconsinites as a friendly, hand-shaking fixture at sporting events and state fairs, Proxmire was one of the few politicians who voted his conscience and never forgot about the people he represented.
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A Pryor Commitment
David Pryor
Butler Center for Arkansas Studies, 2009
David Pryor’s career of public service is unparalleled in Arkansas history: he has been elected state representative, congressman, governor, and, alongside Dale Bumpers, U.S. senator (1979–1997). Through it all, Pryor’s curiosity, compassion, and concern for ordinary Americans draw the reader from one colorful vignette to another.
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Ralph W. Yarborough, the People's Senator
By Patrick L. Cox
University of Texas Press, 2002

Semifinalist, 22nd Annual Robert F. Kennedy Book Award, 2002
Finalist, Spur Award in western nonfiction biography, Western Writers of America, 2002

Revered by many Texans and other Americans as "the People's Senator," Ralph Webster Yarborough (1903-1996) fought for "the little people" in a political career that places him in the ranks of the most influential leaders in Texas history. The only U. S. Senator representing a former Confederate state to vote for every significant piece of modern civil rights legislation, Yarborough became a cornerstone of Lyndon Johnson's Great Society programs in the areas of education, environmental preservation, and health care. In doing so, he played a major role in the social and economic modernization of Texas and the American South. He often defied conventional political wisdom with his stands against powerful political interests and with his vocal opposition to the Vietnam War. Yet to this day, his admirers speak of Yarborough as an inspiration for public service and a model of political independence and integrity.

This biography offers the first in-depth look at the life and career of Ralph Yarborough. Patrick L. Cox draws on Yarborough's personal and professional papers, as well as on extensive interviews with the Senator and his associates, to follow Yarborough from his formative years in East Texas through his legal and judicial career in the 1930s, decorated military service in World War II, unsuccessful campaigns for Texas governor in the 1950s, distinguished tenure in the United States Senate from 1957 to 1970, and return to legal practice through the 1980s.

Although Yarborough's liberal politics set him at odds with most of the Texas power brokers of his time, including Lyndon Johnson, his accomplishments have become part of the national fabric. Medicare recipients, beneficiaries of the Cold War G. I. Bill, and even beachcombers on Padre Island National Seashore all share in the lasting legacy of Senator Ralph Yarborough.

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Robert C. Byrd
Child of the Appalachian Coalfields
ROBERT C. BYRD
West Virginia University Press, 2015

This autobiography follows West Virginia senator Robert C. Byrd’s experiences from his boyhood in the early 1920s to his election in 2000, which won him an unprecedented eighth term in the Senate. Within these pages, Senator Byrd offers commentary on national and international events that occurred throughout his long life in public service. 

His journey from the hardscrabble coalfields to the marbled halls of Congress has inspired generations of people in West Virginia and throughout the nation. From reading the stories of the Founding Fathers as a young boy by the light of a kerosene lamp to the swearing of an oath for more than a half-century to guard the US Constitution, Senator Byrd’s life is legendary. 

Until his death on June 28, 2010, Byrd stood by his principles, earning the affection of the people of his home state and the respect of Americans from all walks of life. With his beloved Erma ever by his side, Robert C. Byrd never forgot his roots, harkening back to those early lessons that he learned as a child of the Appalachian coalfields.

This new paperback edition includes a foreword by Gaston Caperton, governor of West Virginia from 1989–1997.

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Robert C. Byrd
Child of the Appalachian Coalfields
Robert C. Byrd
West Virginia University Press, 2010

This autobiography follows United States Senator Robert C. Byrd’s experiences from his boyhood in the early 1920s to his election in 2000, which won him an unprecedented eighth term in the Senate. Along the way, Senator Byrd offers commentary on national and international events that occurred throughout his long life in public service. Senator Byrd’s journey from the hardscrabble coalfields to the marbled halls of Congress has inspired generations of people in West Virginia and throughout the nation. From reading the stories of the Founding Fathers as a young boy by the light of a kerosene lamp to the swearing of an oath for more than a half-century to guard the United States Constitution, Senator Byrd’s life is legendary. Byrd always stands by his principles, earning the affection of the people of his home state and the respect of Americans from all walks of life. With his beloved Erma ever by his side, Robert C. Byrd has never forgotten his roots, harkening back to those early lessons that he learned as a child of the Appalachian coalfields.

[more]

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Robert Kennedy
Brother Protector
James Hilty
Temple University Press, 2000
For most of his life, Robert Kennedy stood in the shadow cast by his older brother, John; only after President Kennedy's assassination did the public gain a complete sense of Robert ("Bobby," we called him) as a committed advocate for social justice and  a savvy politician in his own right. In this comprehensive biography, James W. Hilty offers a detailed and nuanced account of how Robert was transformed from a seemingly unpromising youngster, unlikely to match the  accomplishments of his older brother, to the forceful man who ran "the family business," orchestrating the Kennedy quest for political power.

The centerpiece of the book is the remarkable political partnership that formed between Robert and John. As the manager of John's political campaigns Robert proved himself "hard as nails" (in his father's admiring words), relentless in securing his brother's victory and unforgiving in overseeing his brother's presidency. Hilty marshals a great deal of evidence to show that while they did not always see eye to eye -- Lyndon Johnson's selection as John's running mate being a notable disagreement -- Robert and John discussed virtually every issue, gauging the likely political effects of every position. Robert was so close to the President that insiders called him "number one and a-half"; their consultations were so intimate that they spoke in a kind of code, barely intelligible to those around them. In Hilty's evocative but unsentimental recounting of the political crises of  the Kennedy Administration, Robert and John prove to have been more calculating and astute leaders than today's pundits allow. Theirs was a partnership that was unprecedented and, thanks to an act signed into law by Lyndon Johnson, is never to be equaled.

The Kennedy family's story seems to have been lived in the public eye and Americans apparently never tire of the photographs and familiar anecdotes. Most of the written accounts, however, either highlight the multiple tragedies and scandals, preserve the latter-day Camelot myth, or follow the elusive traces of some conspiracy.

In contrast, Hilty's concern is for historical perspective -- for accuracy, plausibility, and thoroughness. With facts and reasoned conclusions, he challenges the stories about the Kennedys in relation to Marilyn Monroe, J. Edgar Hoover, and Martin Luther King, Jr. that have passed into American folklore. He develops a portrait of Robert Kennedy as a complex public figure, a man of centrist political allegiances and firm moral convictions who easily adapted to the crusader's role in working  for Joseph McCarthy or pursuing James Hoffa for racketeering. Hilty's great care in sifting through the evidence and weighing competing theories gives us a sense of Kennedy as a public servant whose dedication to social justice intensified after he was in office and further deepened after his brother's assassination.

Even as he took charge of family matters and supported Jacqueline during the long ordeal of the state funeral, Robert's own crushing pain was evident to the world. It was then that "Bobby" ceased being a disparaging term and became a mark of respect and affection.
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Senator Dennis DeConcini
From the Center of the Aisle
Dennis DeConcini and Jack L. August, Jr.
University of Arizona Press, 2006
Dennis DeConcini, a contemporary of Arizona greats like Sandra Day O’Connor, Barry Goldwater, and Rose Mofford, is an Arizona icon in his own right. Starting his public career as the Pima County Attorney, DeConcini orchestrated an unprecedented rise to a seat in the U.S. Senate, which he held for eighteen years. His political memoir, co-authored with historian Jack L. August Jr., reaches beyond typical reflections to provide the reader with penetrating and revealing insights into the inner workings and colorful characters of Arizona politics and the United States Senate.

A vigilant centrist, who got results by building coalitions on both sides of the aisle, Senator DeConcini’s approach was not bound to strict party alliances but was deeply rooted in the independent political environment of Arizona. During his career, he sponsored legislation limiting the sale of assault weapons, which provoked the National Rifle Association. He confounded Democratic Party regulars by supporting Clarence Thomas during the controversial confirmation hearings and again split with his party in his support for William Rehnquist’s nomination to Chief Justice. In 1980 he voted for Ronald Reagan, but in 1993 he cast the swing vote for President Bill Clinton’s tax bill, which was strongly opposed by Republicans in Arizona.

This political memoir will be of interest to anyone concerned with the inner workings of the U.S. Senate or Arizona politics and offers relevant insights into today’s political climate.
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Senator Howard Cannon of Nevada
A Biography
Michael Vernetti
University of Nevada Press, 2015
Howard Cannon (1912 - 2002) represented Nevada in the U.S. Senate from 1958 until 1982 and acquired a reputation as one of its most productive and influential members. Because he was a modest man more comfortable with hard work than self-aggrandizement, he was also one of its most under-appreciated. Nonetheless, Cannon influenced many major changes in American politics and policies during his time in office.

Born to a devout Mormon family in a small farming community in southwest Utah, Cannon served in the Army Air Force during World War II and emerged from the war as a hero. Soon he was part of the postwar migration of ambitious, adventurous Americans to the booming desert city of Las Vegas, where he practiced law and entered local politics. In 1958 he was elected to the U.S. Senate and joined a group of influential young Democratic senators who were to play a major role in shaping the country’s future. His service on the Aeronautical and Space Sciences Committee and the Armed Services Committee led to major changes in the air travel industry, including deregulation, and to increased support for national military preparedness.
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Senator Leahy
A Life in Scenes
Philip Baruth
University Press of New England, 2017
Having vaulted to a position in the United States Senate at the tender age of thirty-four, Patrick Leahy now claims the longest tenure of any member of that institution still serving—and he was third in line for the presidency when the Democrats held control. Few recent American lawmakers have watched history unfold so at such close range; fewer still have influenced it so powerfully. Philip Baruth brings a thriller-like intensity to the most spectacular of those scenes: the 9/11 attack on the US capital, the contentious drafting of the Patriot Act, the ensuing anthrax attacks, and the dramatic 2014 opening of diplomatic ties with Cuba. Throughout, the biography focuses in on Leahy’s meticulous image making, his cultivation of a “Top Cop” persona both in the media and at the ballot box. It is an approach that culminates in simultaneous roles for the lawmaker as chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee and as the tough-talking “distinguished gentleman” in Christopher Nolan’s acclaimed Dark Knight trilogy of Batman films. Leahy’s improbable success, Philip Baruth argues, in the end lies in his ability both to be and to play the top cop not only in post-Watergate Vermont, but in a post-9/11 America viciously divided between the red states and the blue.
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Senator Thomas J. Walsh of Montana
Law and Public Affairs, from TR to FDR
J. Leonard Bates
University of Illinois Press, 1999
This is the first comprehensive biography of Thomas J. Walsh, the Democratic senator from Montana from 1913 to 1933 who was best known for his role in uncovering the Teapot Dome scandal. J. Leonard Bates places Walsh in his colorful and tumultuous times, illuminating Montana history and politics as well as national movements including Progressivism, internationalism, Prohibition, war, and so-called normalcy.
 
Walsh fought throughout his long career against corruption and monopoly power. During his early years as a lawyer-politician in Helena, he was often in conflict with the "Copper Kings" and other powerful figures. As a senator, he became an internationalist, working throughout the 1920s for naval disarmament, the World Court, the St. Lawrence Seaway, and the Kellogg-Briand Pact for the "outlawry" of war.
 
In his most celebrated coup, breaking open the Teapot Dome scandal of 1923-24, Walsh revealed that the secretary of the interior had accepted "loans" from oil men in return for leases of U.S. naval oil reserves. Working through the Public Lands Committee of the Senate, Walsh enjoyed support for his investigation from members of both parties, and the Supreme Court endorsed his interpretation of the scandal in 1927. Shortly before his death, he presided over the Democratic National Convention that nominated Franklin Roosevelt and served for a brief time as a key figure in the new leader's circle.
 
Drawing on archival sources of unprecedented depth, including personal letters between Walsh and his first wife, Elinor McClements Walsh, Bates's expansive study paints a richly detailed portrait of an influential and principled figure whose political career spanned world war, depression, and the administrations of six presidents.
 
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Sizing Up the Senate
The Unequal Consequences of Equal Representation
Frances E. Lee and Bruce I. Oppenheimer
University of Chicago Press, 1999
We take it for granted that every state has two representatives in the United States Senate. Apply the "one person, one vote" standard, however, and the Senate is the most malapportioned legislature in the democratic world.

But does it matter that California's 32 million people have the same number of Senate votes as Wyoming's 480,000? Frances Lee and Bruce Oppenheimer systematically show that the Senate's unique apportionment scheme profoundly shapes legislation and representation. The size of a state's population affects the senator-constituent relationship, fund-raising and elections, strategic behavior within the Senate, and, ultimately, policy decisions. They also show that less populous states consistently receive more federal funding than states with more people. In sum, Lee and Oppenheimer reveal that Senate apportionment leaves no aspect of the institution untouched.

This groundbreaking book raises new questions about one of the key institutions of American government and will interest anyone concerned with issues of representation.
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Stephen A. Douglas
Robert W. Johannsen
University of Illinois Press, 1997
      Winner of the Francis Parkman Prize of the Society of American Historians
      For the quarter-century before 1860 Stephen A. Douglas was a dominant
        figure on the American political scene, far outshadowing Abraham Lincoln.
        This first paperback printing of Robert Johannsen's authoritative biography
        features a new preface.
      "At once a work of enormous scholarship and of deep insight. Here,
        for the first time, is the full story of a great career, told with such
        skill that we can now understand why Abraham Lincoln found the 'Little
        Giant' the most formidable political rival he ever faced." -- David
        H. Donald, author of Lincoln and two-time winner of the Pulitzer
        Prize
      "Well-organized and marvelously detailed. . . . The book demonstrates
        the virtues of large-scale, straightforward narrative biography at its
        best. Its completeness and objectivity will make it the standard authority
        for many years to come." -- Richard N. Current, The New York Times
        Book Review
      "Superb. . . . Will doubtless stand as the definitive biography
        of Stephen A. Douglas for this generation." -- Hans L. Trefousse,
        The Journal of American History
      "An impressive work--impressive in scope, in research, and in maturity
        of understanding. . . . Johannsen has constructed a biography that is
        rich in detail and full of conviction." -- James Z. Rabun, The
        Journal of Southern History
      "Should take its place in the tradition of magisterial biographies
        . . . in which so much of the best writing on American history is to be
        found." -- Harry V. Jaffa, National Review
      "The research is amazingly exhaustive and the writing is unusually
        readable. . . . Outstanding biography of a quality not often matched."
        -- LeRoy H. Fischer, Manuscripta
      Supported by the Dickerson Fund of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
 
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Stuart Symington
A Life
James C. Olson
University of Missouri Press, 2003
Stuart Symington is the first full-length biography of one of Missouri’s most influential and effective twentieth-century political leaders. It tells the story of a remarkable man whose adult life was spent at or near the center of power in America, a man who was talented and ambitious, yet maintained a realistic touch that enabled him to connect with ordinary people.
Symington was the first secretary of the air force and a four-term senator from Missouri. Prior to his long governmental career, he was a successful businessman in New York and St. Louis, developing a national reputation as a genius who could convert failing businesses to profitability. His most notable success was with Emerson Electric Company of St. Louis, which during World War II he turned into a large manufacturer of movable gun turrets for bombers.
Known as “Harry Truman’s Trouble Shooter,” Symington was unanimously confirmed by the Senate for six major presidential appointments—a record. As assistant secretary of war for air, he represented the War Department in negotiations leading to the National Security Act of 1947, which unified the armed services into a single national military establishment under the secretary of defense. During his tenure as secretary of the air force, he steered that organization through a series of crises, including racial integration, as it developed into an independent entity within the Defense Department. Among his other administrative positions, he served as surplus property administrator, breaking up the aluminum monopoly; director of the National Security Resources Board, where he helped develop mobilization strategy for the Korean War; and director of the Reconstruction Finance Corporation, where he reformed a badly managed operation.
Highlights of his long Senate career include his confrontation with Joseph McCarthy during the Army-McCarthy hearings in 1954; his conflict with President Eisenhower over the defense budget; his long, agonizing struggle over Vietnam as he changed from a leading hawk to a leading dove; and his role in uncovering information leading to congressional articles of impeachment against President Nixon. He was a serious candidate for the Democratic nomination for president in 1960, and for a time appeared to be Kennedy’s choice for vice president.
Well written and exhaustively researched, Stuart Symington: A Life provides a comprehensive portrait of Symington and his exceptional career, shedding new light on presidential administrations from Truman to Nixon, the Department of Defense, the Korean War, and Vietnam. The book also contributes to an understanding of the U. S. Senate, the political history of Missouri, and the relationship between business and government during and immediately after World War II.
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Terry Sanford
Politics, Progress, and Outrageous Ambitions
Howard E. Covington Jr. and Marion A. Ellis
Duke University Press, 1999
Terry Sanford (1917–1998) was one of the most important public figures of the postwar South. First as North Carolina’s governor and later as president of Duke University, he demonstrated a dynamic style of progressive leadership marked by compassion and creativity. This book tells the story of Sanford’s beginnings, his political aspirations, his experiences in office, and, of course, his numerous accomplishments in the context of a period of revolutionary change in the South.
After defeating a segregationist campaign in 1960 to win the governorship, Sanford used his years in office to boost public education and advance race relations. A decade later, at the height of tumult on American campuses, Sanford assumed the presidency of Duke University and led it to its position as one of the top universities in the nation. During his more than fifty years as a public servant he was associated with presidents John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard Nixon, and Jimmy Carter. Sanford was a presidential candidate himself in 1972 and 1976, and he won election to the United States Senate in 1986 where his international commission produced an economic recovery plan for Central America. As one of the last New Deal Democrats in the Senate, he remained passionate about the opportunity for leaders to use government to improve people’s lives.
Terry Sanford draws on Sanford’s considerable private and public archive as well as on the recollections of Sanford himself and his family, colleagues, and friends. This biography offers a unique perspective on North Carolina life, politics, political personalities, and the shifting public allegiances of the second half of the twentieth century that transformed life both in North Carolina and throughout the American South.
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Thomas Taggart
Public Servant, Political Boss, 1856-1929
James Phillip Fadely
Indiana Historical Society Press, 1997

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Toomey's Triumph
Inside a Key Senate Campaign
Harold Gullan
Temple University Press, 2012

The 2010 Pennsylvania Senate election provided high drama from the earliest days of its primary campaigns right through Election Day. After long-time incumbent Arlen Specter was eliminated, the race boiled down to two fresh faces—Pat Toomey and Joe Sestak. Their battle constitutes a microcosm of the political divide that characterizes contemporary American politics.

Veteran writer Hal Gullan obtained special access to the Toomey campaign early on. Toomey's Triumph offers both that inside look and a Philadelphian's reflections of a riveting election. Gullan's astute month-by-month narrative distills the events of the year-long battles through the high drama and the day-to-day of grassroots organizing and campaigning. He describes how the candidates appear, what they say, and how the media pundits respond to their various gambits. He provides wry observations on the efficacy of each candidate's campaign ads and strategies, and he analyzes the up-and-down polls.

Toomey's Triumph provides an engaging chronicle of a critical campaign.

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An Uncertain Tradition
David Kenney and Robert E. Hartley
Southern Illinois University Press, 2003

This sweeping survey constitutes the first comprehensive treatment of the forty-seven individuals—forty-six white males and one African American female—who have been chosen to represent Illinois in the United States Senate from 1818 to 2003. David Kenney and Robert E. Hartley underscore nearly two centuries of Illinois history with these biographical and political portraits, compiling an incomparably rich resource for students, scholars, teachers, journalists, historians, politicians, and any Illinoisan interested in the state’s heritage.  

An Uncertain Tradition:U. S. Senators from Illinois, 1818–2003 is a fresh and careful study of the shifting set of political issues occurring over time and illuminated by the lives of participants in the politics of choice and service in the Senate. Kenney and Hartley plot the course of the state’s varied senatorial leadership, from the state’s founding and the appearance of political parties, through the Civil War and its aftermath, and into the diverse political climate of the twenty-first century. From the notorious to the heroic, the popular to the pioneering, the senatorial roster includes such luminaries as “The Little Giant” Stephen A. Douglas; Lyman Trumbull, who served three terms in the Civil War era; “Uncle Dick” and “Black Jack,” also known as Richard Oglesby and John A. Logan; the “Wizard of Ooze” Everett Dirksen; and modern leaders such as Adlai Stevenson III, Paul Simon, and Carol Moseley-Braun. 

Kenney and Hartley offer incisive commentary on the quality of senate service in each case, as well as timeline graphs relating to the succession of individuals in each of the two sequences of service, the geographical distribution of senators within the state, and the variations in party voting for senate candidates. Rigorously documented and supremely readable, this convenient reference volume is enhanced by portraits of many of the senators.

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An Uncommon Man
The Life and Times of Senator Claiborne Pell
G. Wayne Miller
University Press of New England, 2011
Claiborne Pell (1918–2009) was Rhode Island’s longest serving U.S. senator, with six consecutive terms from 1961 to 1997. A liberal Democrat, Pell is best known as the sponsor of the Pell Grants. He was also the force behind the creation of the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, and a visionary in high-speed rail transportation and other areas. An early environmentalist and opponent of the Vietnam War, Pell left his mark on several treaties and peace initiatives. Born into the wealthy family that settled the Bronx, New York, Pell married Nuala O’Donnell, an heiress to the A&P fortune. He lived on the waterfront in exclusive Newport, Rhode Island, yet was a favorite of blue-collar voters. Frugal and quirky, he believed in ESP and UFOs, and was often seen jogging in a sports coat and shorts. Both his hard work and his personality left an indelible mark on this small but influential state—and on America. This lively biography was written with the cooperation of the senator’s family, and with exclusive access to family records and the extensive archives at the University of Rhode Island.
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U.S. SENATE EXCEPTIONALISM
BRUCE I. OPPENHEIMER
The Ohio State University Press, 2002
This collection includes the most recent scholarship on the U.S. Senate. Whereas most books simply assume that research about the House of Representatives holds equally well when applied to the Senate, this volume takes as its point of departure research about the Senate itself. This gives the reader a clear understanding of the particular nature of the institution and opens the door for further, refining research. Drawing on diverse methodologies, this book’s synthesizing work will be essential reading for all scholars of U.S. politics. The chapters are written by leading congressional scholars and cover topics including representation, elections, committees, party leadership, policy influence, and constitutional powers.

Contributors:

  • Alan I. Abramowitz
  • John R. Alford
  • David T. Canon
  • Joseph Cooper
  • Lawrence C. Dodd
  • Robert S. Erikson
  • C. Lawrence Evans
  • Richard Fenno Jr.
  • Gerald Gamm
  • John R. Hibbing
  • Kim Fridkin Kahn
  • Patrick J. Kenney
  • Frances D. Lee
  • Burdett Loomis
  • Bruce I. Oppenheimer
  • David W. Rohde
  • Elizabeth Rybicki
  • Wendy J. Schiller
  • Patrick J. Sellers
  • Barbara Sinclair
  • Steven Smith
  • Charles Stewart III
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The Whips
Building Party Coalitions in Congress
C. Lawrence Evans
University of Michigan Press, 2018

The party whips are essential components of the U.S. legislative system, responsible for marshalling party votes and keeping House and Senate party members in line. In The Whips, C. Lawrence Evans offers a comprehensive exploration of coalition building and legislative strategy in the U.S. House and Senate, ranging from the relatively bipartisan, committee-dominated chambers of the 1950s to the highly polarized congresses of the 2000s. In addition to roll call votes and personal interviews with lawmakers and staff, Evans examines the personal papers of dozens of former leaders of the House and Senate, especially former whips. These records allowed Evans to create a database of nearly 1,500 internal leadership polls on hundreds of significant bills across five decades of recent congressional history.

The result is a rich and sweeping understanding of congressional party leaders at work. Since the whips provide valuable political intelligence, they are essential to understanding how coalitions are forged and deals are made on Capitol Hill.

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Why Not Parties?
Party Effects in the United States Senate
Edited by Nathan W. Monroe, Jason M. Roberts, and David W. Rohde
University of Chicago Press, 2008
Recent research on the U.S. House of Representatives largely focuses on the effects of partisanship, but the strikingly less frequent studies of the Senate still tend to treat parties as secondary considerations in a chamber that gives its members far more individual leverage than congressmen have. In response to the recent increase in senatorial partisanship, Why Not Parties? corrects this imbalance with a series of original essays that focus exclusively on the effects of parties in the workings of the upper chamber.
 
Illuminating the growing significance of these effects, the contributors explore three major areas, including the electoral foundations of parties, partisan procedural advantage, and partisan implications for policy. In the process, they investigate such issues as whether party discipline can overcome Senate mechanisms that invest the most power in individuals and small groups; how parties influence the making of legislation and the distribution of pork; and whether voters punish senators for not toeing party lines. The result is a timely corrective to the notion that parties don’t matter in the Senate—which the contributors reveal is far more similar to the lower chamber than conventional wisdom suggests.
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Women in the Club
Gender and Policy Making in the Senate
Michele L. Swers
University of Chicago Press, 2013

In the run-up to the 2012 presidential election, Democrats and Republicans were locked in a fierce battle for the female vote. Democrats charged Republicans with waging a “war on women,” while Republicans countered that Democratic policies actually undermined women’s rights. The women of the Senate wielded particular power, planning press conferences, appearing on political programs, and taking to the Senate floor over gender-related issues such as workplace equality and reproductive rights.

The first book to examine the impact of gender differences in the Senate, Women in the Club is an eye-opening exploration of how women are influencing policy and politics in this erstwhile male bastion of power. Gender, Michele L. Swers shows, is a fundamental factor for women in the Senate, interacting with both party affiliation and individual ideology to shape priorities on policy. Women, for example, are more active proponents of social welfare and women’s rights. But the effects of gender extend beyond mere policy preferences. Senators also develop their priorities with an eye to managing voter expectations about their expertise and advancing their party’s position on a given issue. The election of women in increasing numbers has also coincided with the evolution of the Senate as a highly partisan institution. The stark differences between the parties on issues pertaining to gender have meant that Democratic and Republican senators often assume very different roles as they reconcile their policy views on gender issues with the desire to act as members of partisan teams championing or defending their party’s record in an effort to reach various groups of voters.

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Young Bob
A Biography of Robert M. La Follette, Jr.
Patrick J. Maney
Wisconsin Historical Society Press, 2002

United States senator "Young Bob" La Follette entered politics as a young reformer in the shadow of his legendary father, "Fighting Bob" La Follette. He made his own mark as a key architect of Roosevelt’s New Deal and as a champion of labor rights and civil liberties. But in 1946 he was unexpectedly unseated by Joseph McCarthy, whose rise to Cold War notoriety foreshadowed La Follette’s despair and suicide in 1953. This new edition updates the only full scale biography of La Follette,Jr., the first to exploit his voluminous collection of personal papers. Patrick J. Maney makes clear that Young Bob’s story is as relevant today as it was when he died. His life stands as dramatic evidence of how one of the most respected politicians of his time bridged the political spectrum and was admired by both liberals like FDR and Harry Truman and conservatives like Robert Taft and Richard Nixon.

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