- Hardcover: 512 pages
- Publisher: PublicAffairs; 1 edition (February 14, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1586489364
- ISBN-13: 978-1586489366
- Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 6.4 x 1.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #936,635 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Last Great Senate: Courage and Statesmanship in Times of Crisis Hardcover – February 14, 2012
"With his gift for lively narrative and vivid character study, Ira Shapiro brings to life a forgotten, unappreciated and surprisingly productive period of modern political history, when the Senate served as a 'national mediator' for the great issues of the day. The Last Great Senate is peopled with great personalities, from Ted Kennedy to Scoop Jackson to Hubert Humphrey, and from Howard Baker to Jack Javits and Bob Dole. It is bound to become a classic in the field of studies of how legislation is made, presidencies are unmade and results flow from calculation, courage and determination to rise above the fray in times of economic and national security crises."
Madeleine K. Albright, U.S. Secretary of State, 1997-2001
By reminding us of what the U.S. Senate was, Ira Shapiro awakens us to what this increasingly shaky pillar of American democracy still could be. In so doing, he gives us not only a riveting historical account, but also a prescription of how to restore health to our political system and true patriotism to public debate.”
In his chronicle of Beltway politics, Shapiro’s excellent account of wise, capable U.S. senators putting constitutional concerns over party and ideology to do the people’s business is a prime example of how Washington can overcome its present deadlock."
Shapiro’s thorough analysis and background stories of these senators remind readers that the Senate once worked despite partisanship. Readers interested in political science and government history will enjoy the author’s engaging style and historical perspective.”
"A sharply focused and instructive look back at the institution’s bipartisan achievements of the late 1970s. The Senate that served during the uneasy years of the Carter administration was the last, in author Shapiro’s estimation, to make hard decisions on a series of volatile issues not for political gain but for the good of the nation. The contrast to the political and personal rancor of recent years could not be more apparent.”
Christian Science Monitor
A first-hand, blow-by-blow account of the personalities and issues that animated the Senate during the Carter administration . There is something surprisingly thrilling about it all . There is no mistaking that the Senate operated differently 30 years ago than it did today and Shapiro persuasively shows that most of that change has been for the worse. As a result, his book begs the questions: Is the root of that change in our leaders or is it in us? And can it be reversed?”
History News Network
Fascinating . The Last Great Senate provides an alluring account of a functional Senate. Citizens might profitably read it to appreciate that ideal, and then send their copy to their senators to suggest models for better behavior. Those might be first steps to shaping the next great Senate.”
Cleveland Plain Dealer
If today's voters want a sure-handed explanation of how the once-consequential debate in the U.S. Senate degenerated into a low-comedy revue, Shapiro's book offers it -- powerfully.”
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Shapiro, a former Democratic Senate staff aide, argues persuasively that the crucial middle ground needed for compromise in the 100-member elite body of Congress has disappeared.”
Given the desire to escape today's toxic Washington culture, there may be no timelier book than Ira Shapiro's The Last Great Senate . And there may be no more appropriate writer to pen such a title than Shapiro. A senior Senate aide who brokered legislative compromises among leading Democrats and Republicans, Shapiro worked behind the scenes on matters ranging from the Foreign Intelligence Act to the Senate Code of Ethics. In elegant, if sometimes dense, prose, The Last Great Senate fulfills its promises to chronicle courage and statesmanship in times of crisis’- specifically, the last half of the 1970s, when a series of signal compromises were worked out by senators of very different ideologies. The book is for the 112th Congress (the one now sitting) what then-Sen. John F. Kennedy's Profiles in Courage was for the nation's Cold War leaders. . Congress and all its members should read this methodically researched book. And not only them; political junkies and all those concerned about the direction of the nation will also want to immerse themselves in it. But for the country's sake, let's hope each and every U.S. senator reads The Last Great Senate before the next vote.”
A tour-de-force meditation on the kind of high-powered policymaking and intricate legislative needlepoint that once seemed to define the Senate’s work . The charm of the book is that [Shapiro] understands and is devoted to the old myths and warmly recounts a period in history when the institution was still trying to live up those myths, and when the country went along by revering the Senate and its members. Shapiro is an ardent researcher and a more than able writer, but it is his obvious love for the Senate that gives the book its personality. He manages to make Senate debates about energy policy and tax rebates seem interesting, in part because he explains who felt ambushed, betrayed and left hung out to dry. The real pleasure of the book is the way it takes us back to an era without the current madness.”
About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
During those years, the Senate had to tackle several big issues and dealing with an "outsider" President. For example, there was the Panama Canal treaties that gave control of the Panama Canal to Panama. It was hotly debated because the canal had been built by the United States and owned by the U.S. ever since. Another issue dealt with was the bailouts. New York City was facing fiscal problems and wanted help from the federal government. Senators debated over whether it was appropriate to give federal dollars to a city in such a fashion, but it was decided that New York City was too important to leave hanging. The same thing happened with the Chrysler Corporation. The Senate only agreed to a bailout only if the terms were very specific and stringent.
Aside from the issues covered in the book, Shaprio talks about many of the most important Senators to have served in that period. Some names include Robert Byrd (as Majority Leader), Howard Baker (as Minority Leader), Jacob Javits, Ed Muskie, Scoop Jackson, George McGovern, Hubert Humphrey, Abraham Ribicoff, and Ted Kennedy, among others.
One problem with the book is that Shaprio is an unabashed liberal Democrat and this bias shows in the book. It seems like the only Republicans he talks about kindly are liberals or moderates. In fact, he essentially blames everything he sees wrong with the Senate after the 1980 elections, which swept many new Republicans into the Senate and Ronald Reagan into the White House, solely on conservative Republicans.
When he is not injecting his own biases into the history, the book was an interesting look at the history of the Senate from 1977 to 1980. I would recommend this book to those interested in Senate history if you can stand some liberal biases.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Ira Shapiro's The Last Great Senate is an excellent book for anyone who was alive and interested in good bi-partisan government in the 1960s and 1970s and anyone for whom those... Read morePublished 3 months ago by TCB
Great book. Well written. A lot of years of observation and first hand knowledge went into this. It not only reminds us of the role of the US Senate, it shows true public servants... Read morePublished 5 months ago by stephen r leeds
Should I run for Senate one day, I will remember the stories told in this book. All the hard work and compromises made in the national interest. Read morePublished 6 months ago by John Schaeffer
An insightful and well written book. It gives me hope that our Congress can return to similar days when individuals could disagree, yet still respect each other and pass... Read morePublished 15 months ago by C. Lupica
Fascinated with the Senate (and House) body, this was an interesting piece of history regarding the Senate.Published 23 months ago by John A. Jago, Jr.