The Freshmen: What Happend to the Republican Revolution?

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In November 1994 the Republicans won control of both Houses of Congress for the first time in 40 years in a victory they immediately dubbed the Republican Revolution. Swept into office in that election were 73 Republican freshmen, the storm troopers in Newt Gingrich’s army. The Freshmen is the inside story of those men and women and of the tumultuous 104th Congress, one of the most historic and eventful congresses in recent history.The freshmen were at the heart of the Republican revolution. Journalist Linda ...
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Overview


In November 1994 the Republicans won control of both Houses of Congress for the first time in 40 years in a victory they immediately dubbed the Republican Revolution. Swept into office in that election were 73 Republican freshmen, the storm troopers in Newt Gingrich’s army. The Freshmen is the inside story of those men and women and of the tumultuous 104th Congress, one of the most historic and eventful congresses in recent history.The freshmen were at the heart of the Republican revolution. Journalist Linda Killian presents a revealing portrait of their maneuvering and intrigues, their successes and failures. Were they committed idealists or wild-eyed zealots?Killian reveals how Congress really works through amazingly candid conversations with the freshmen. She offers a probing and intimate character study of the colorful and always unpredictable freshmen who shared their private thoughts with her.In early 1995 the Republicans were riding high but they were sent crashing by the government shutdown. Killian explains how they rebounded from that disastrous political maneuver to maintain control of Congress despite Bill Clinton’s re-election to the presidency, and also explains how the Republican revolution never really existed.Despite being labeled Gingrich clones when they arrived in Washington, in 1997 the freshmen attempted to overthrow Newt Gingrich as speaker of the House. Killian tells the real story of that failed coup.This book is the first detailed, behind the scenes account of the entire 104th Congress and is based on two years of extensive reporting and hundreds of interviews. Killian goes beyond the headlines to show us the power struggles through the eyes of the freshmen.She takes us to the House floor, the committee rooms and private offices of Congress and follows the freshmen back to their districts in small town America in places like Crossville, Tennessee; Wamego, Kansas and Janesville, Wisconsin. We meet class everyman Van Hilleary of Tennessee; firebrand and troublemaker Mark Neumann; former entertainer Sonny Bono; Enid Greene Waldholtz who is forced to leave Congress in disgrace and Sam Brownback who uses his freshman notoriety to win Bob Dole’s seat in the U.S. Senate.The Freshmen is a fascinating look at who the freshmen are and why they are different from other politicians. What did they actually accomplish and how did they change American politics? Much more than just the story of the Republican freshmen, this is the story of power and democracy, a vivid portrait of our times and of the issues facing our nation as we head into the 21st century.
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Editorial Reviews

Al Franken
A fascinating read, sometimes confirming your worst suspicions, yet occasionally humanizing well-meaning (but horribly misguided) members of this otherwise dreadful class of Republicans. -- Al Franken
William Kristol
Historians will ask what happened to the much heralded Republican revolution of 1994. They'll find their answer in Linda Killian's informative reporting. Meanwhile, the rest of us can enjoy this lively and incisive account of the trials and tribulations of the new Republican majority in the House. -- William Kristol
Kirkus Reviews
An engrossing look at the 104th Congress, in which Republicans, their ranks bolstered by first-time legislators, took control of the House of Representatives. Killian's book is successful largely thanks to her focus on a handful of the freshmen and the key issues that made the 104th Congress important. Rep. Van Hilleary of Tennessee is among the lawmakers Killian portraysþshe dubs him the "Everyman" of the freshman class, and his thoughts and feelings in the period following his election, during crises such as the two government shutdowns that marred the Congress, and throughout his reelection campaign, are given strong emphasis. Florida's Mark Foley is similarly illustrative for Killian, except that heþs not a þTrue Believerþ (as the young anti-establishment conservatives of the 104th Congress dubbed themselves) but a moderate on social issues. Although it is clear that Killian takes issue with the opinions of many of her subjects, sheþs also ready to blame President Clinton for failures during that period. She argues, for instance, that the government stalemate in early 1996 was used by Clinton to advance political goals, despite the detrimental effects on both parties and on a large segment of the American people. The other, less likely, villain in Killian's study is Newt Gingrich, who increasingly comes to view the freshmen as an unruly group of men and women who frequently vote their conscience and not as he, the party leader, dictates. The end result of the 104th Congressþthat the electorate chose in 1996 to keep the executive and legislative branches of government dividedþis indicative of the times in that, as Killian writes, "it seemedto suit the voters' desire for marginalism rather than dramatic change in either direction." Moving pre-mortem material on Sonny Bono adds a light touch, as well, to Killian's fair, thoughtful, and eminently readable account.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780813399515
  • Publisher: Basic Books
  • Publication date: 3/12/1998
  • Pages: 480
  • Product dimensions: 6.34 (w) x 9.28 (h) x 1.52 (d)

Meet the Author


Linda Killian is a Washington, D.C.–based journalist with many years experience covering politics. She is the former senior editor of National Public Radio’s All Things Considered and was a reporter at Forbes magazine in New York. She has written about politics for The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, The New Republic, The Weekly Standard, The Christian Science Monitor and The Boston Globe. She is a graduate of Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and Boston University.
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