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Showdown at Gucci Gulch Paperback – April 12, 1988

3.9 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Birnbaum and Murray describe the passage of the 1986 tax reform act as the product of personal victories by Washington officials over the usually triumphant lobbyists of "Gucci Gulch"the hallways outside the congressional meeting rooms where expensive suits and shoes prevail. The authors, Washington correspondents for the Wall Street Journal , explain how liberals' and supply-siders' discontents combined to produce the key concepts. They skillfully portray the five main actorsBill Bradley, James Packwood, Dan Rostenkowski, James Baker, and Baker's deputy Richard Darmanwho succeeded against massive opposition with surprisingly little public support. Recommended for most libraries. BOMC feaured alternate. Mark K. Jones, Cincinnati, Ohio
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

"Even the hordes of Americans whose eyes glaze at the sight of a tax table will enjoy this remarkably lively account." -- The New York Times Book Review

"A riveting account of the political Process that produced the new [tax reform] law."

-- Fortune

"Messrs. Birnbaum and Murray... have written a splendidly readable book about America's recent tax reform." -- The Economist

"Showdown is a classic of its genre....It is illuminating and systematic enough to become a staple in political science courses, yet entertaining enough to be read this summer on the beach." -- Washington Post Book World

"Showdown at Gucci Gulch reads like a thriller, which it is, with a remarkable cast of characters and a payoff in billions."

-- David S. Broder, chief political reporter and columnist, Washington Post
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (April 12, 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0394758110
  • ISBN-13: 978-0394758114
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.9 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #227,691 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Birnbaum and Murray obviously spent a lot of time researching and writing this. The result is not only very insightful into what Washington looks like from the inside, but is also a highly readable exercise in how policy in the US really is made (the authors liken law-making to sausage-making), and how revolutions for high-minded ideals can indeed occur (for all you cynics out there). None of this could ever be found in an encyclopedia because the way Congress works is much more complex than anything an encyclopedia could ever possibly detail. B&M offer not only commentary on the process, but also into the heads of those working on the Hill; something you're not likely to see very often. Finally, if you're ever interested in where your tax dollars go, how the policy got the way it is, and why you're paying what you do, this is an extremely candid review. It's a bit disheartening to know that there are those out there who still 'just don't get it' even after being presented with such a readable presentation of the way our government works, and at this point, I guess they never will.
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Format: Paperback
While this book may not appeal to students in search of the CliffNotes version of the political process, this exhaustive account of the1986 tax reform bill gets a complicated story just about right. Especially when it concerns the tax code, the devil is in the details, and while B&M sometimes go a little overboard in describing the small print of oil depletion allowances and the like, the fact is that Congressmen think that way -- and voters had better know it. All in all, a solid addition to the 'how a bill becomes a law' ouevre. Plus, it makes you like an odd array of people: Ronald Reagan, Bill Bradley, and even Bob Packwood. Where are they now?... END
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Format: Paperback
Tax laws may have changed, some of the main actors are serving jail time, but it doesn't matter. This is the best case study of congressional decision making available. I still use this in courses because there is no better example of the tension between political horse trading and genuine reformist impulses available.
Is it detailed? Of course it is: the back and forth in the Ways and Means committee, for example, illustrates the kind of negotiaions that are the bread and butter of policy making.
Is there material that is "in the encyclopedia?" That is silly. There is little there that is basic review. In fact, anyone who found this boring probably does not know the basics of congressional procedures -- that is not the goal of this book -- or has a professor or teacher who does not know how to link a journalistic case study like this with the textbook or scholarly treatment of Congress.
A classic.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Context to the tax code, Congressional committees, Congressmen (well-known and lesser known), and lobbyists (who wear Gucci shoes).

Unbiased, reputable investigative journalism. Presents the scope of conflicts, goals, and problems obtaining cooperation among the different political parties. Much insight given about lobbyists and their harsh impact on tax codes/laws, the economy, and people from the poor through the rich.

Same issues applicable to today.

Excellent resource for history majors and some political science students..[Edited to correct spelling error.]
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book documents the process/drama behind the astonishingly comprehensive mid-1980s overhaul of the US Income Tax system.

The goals were to:
- Simplify the tax system.
- Reduce marginal rates.
- Broaden the tax base.

Those goals were accomplished. What is especially interesting reading this now (2012) is that our country really needs a similar effort to take place.

To see our current dysfunctional congress arguing these issues, you might imagine that nothing resembling this is possible. But this book proves that it IS possible. It happened. It is quite interesting to find out exactly how.
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Format: Paperback
This book details a revolution in government. Not a huge revolution like the Aemrican/French/Russian but a revolution deep in the bowels of US Congressional Tax policy. Boring you say? MEGO you scoff? Well, check this one out and be surprised. Bill Bradley, running now- May 1999- for President plays a critical and positive role and anyone contemplating voting for President next year should consider buying this book if only to learn more about Mr Bradley.
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Format: Paperback
Definitely an enjoyable book that gives insight into the behind-the-scenes details of congressional politics. "Showdown" is a great book if you are interested in the nitty-gritty details of lobbying or Congress and Birnbaum and Murray provide a knack for detail (and humour) rarely found in today's books. Written in '86ish, and still a classic. A great supplement to "The Power Game" by Hedrick Smith.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Great book at a great price!
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