Landmark Debates In Congress: From the Declaration Of Independence To the War In Iraq / Edition 1

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal

Benjamin Franklin once characterized democracy as "two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch." While tyranny of the majority has been one aspect of the American Experiment, this has been counterbalanced by a spirit of compromise. Both extremes and various gradations in between are evident in the 52 chapters of this "rhetorical collection." Presenting excerpts of speeches delivered in the House of Representatives and the Senate, this volume seeks to give readers "a window into how Congress, seemingly constituting a cross-section of society, has wrestled with some of the most thorny questions facing American democracy." Such monumental issues as war, slavery, impeachment of the President, amendments to the Constitution, and other bones of contention illuminate the legislative process. Arranged chronologically, each segment opens with a two-page introductory essay that affords a historical snapshot of the country at that moment and the opposing forces that led to the legislation in question. A set of representative arguments, one for, one against, comes next. The verbatim transcripts, taken from the Congressional Record and other official sources, give a wonderful immediacy to what some might consider dull as dishwater. Special features include "The Final Vote" box with breakdown of yea or nay by chamber and political party for most debates and an extensive bibliography. Stathis, who is currently a senior staff member at the Congressional Research Service, has spent nearly 40 years as a congressional historian and is thus well acquainted with the subject matter. Likewise, CQ Press has specialized in publishing federal government reference books since 1945. Nothing similarappears to have been published recently, although the full text of speeches going back to 1873 has been available in the Congressional Record (Government Printing Office) and the Congressional Globe and Annals of Congress before that.
—Michael F. Bemis

School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Organized chronologically, this remarkable resource begins with the debate over American independence and ends with the Iraq War Resolution of 2002. A one-page description preceding each chapter acquaints readers with the social, political, and economic influences that placed the topic before Congress. The collection showcases more than 50 debates that are historically significant or insightful, or masterful in their wording or execution, providing a panoramic sense of the issues that have beset America over the years as our population swelled and our boundaries expanded. Some debates reflect bigoted ideologies, but most suggest sincere efforts to legislate democratically. While a few speeches are worded formally, even stiffly, the majority consist of accessible, lively plain speech with colloquialisms and the occasional spark of interpersonal vitriol. These characteristics humanize the speakers and imbue the issues with freshness. This resource should find many applications in history classes and for some History Day projects. One especially valuable aspect of the book is that the opinions for both sides of an issue are presented, not just the side that won and influenced legislation. Small, token black-and-white illustrations are scattered throughout.—Jennifer Prince, Fairview Public Library, NC
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780872899766
  • Publisher: Congressional Quarterly, Inc.
  • Publication date: 10/22/2008
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 449
  • Product dimensions: 8.60 (w) x 11.00 (h) x 1.10 (d)

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