Top critical review
Reads too much like a Government memo.
on December 30, 2012
While this book is a good and very comprehensive guide to the history of filibustering in the United States -- which has a more complex history than I was really aware of -- there are two problems with this book from my perspective: first, the writing is just too dry. This book could have been filled with vivid anecdotes and great stories, stories that could have underlined the point and brought the book to life. Second, the book is almost too detailed. There is always a delicate balance in a book of this kind regarding how much detail should be included, and for my tastes the authors of these kind of books often err on the side of being too inclusive. While I understand why that would happen -- and one can, after all, skip the parts that don't interest us -- I still find that pithy is better. Otherwise it starts reading like a government memo, as this book sometimes does.
Still, I got one very clear insight from this book, and that is that the United States Senate changed the filibustering -- which had formerly required Senators to speak on the floor of the Senate for as long as they wanted to hold the floor to one in which the Senators only need to "threaten" to filibuster -- for the comfort and convenience of the Senators. That is so wrong; the whole point of the process is that it's supposed to be uncomfortable. It's supposed to require the devotion of a Mr. Smith goes to Washington. It's supposed to be reserved for the issues that individual Senators care most passionately about, it's not supposed to be an ordinary parliamentary procedure. Shame on the United States Senate. And it's too bad that these authors didn't write a more vivid book.