The U.S. Congress: A Very Short Introduction [NOOK Book]

Overview

Many scholars believe that the framers of the Constitution intended Congress to be the preeminent branch of government. Indeed, no other legislature in the world approaches its power. Yet most Americans have only a murky idea of how it works.
In The U.S. Congress, Donald A. Ritchie, a congressional historian for more than thirty years, takes readers on a fascinating, behind-the-scenes tour of Capitol Hill--pointing out the key players, explaining their behavior, and translating...
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The U.S. Congress: A Very Short Introduction

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Overview

Many scholars believe that the framers of the Constitution intended Congress to be the preeminent branch of government. Indeed, no other legislature in the world approaches its power. Yet most Americans have only a murky idea of how it works.
In The U.S. Congress, Donald A. Ritchie, a congressional historian for more than thirty years, takes readers on a fascinating, behind-the-scenes tour of Capitol Hill--pointing out the key players, explaining their behavior, and translating parliamentary language into plain English. No mere civics lesson, this eye-opening book provides an insider's perspective on Congress, matched with a professional historian's analytical insight. After a swift survey of the creation of Congress by the constitutional convention, he begins to unscrew the nuts and pull out the bolts. What is it like to campaign for congress? To attract large donors? To enter either house with no seniority? He answers these questions and more, explaining committee assignments (and committee work), the role of staffers and lobbyists, floor proceedings, parliamentary rules, and coalition building. Ritchie explores the great effort put into constituent service--as representatives and senators respond to requests from groups and individuals--as well as media relations and news coverage. He also explores how the grand concepts we all know from civics class--checks and balances, advise and consent, congressional oversight--work in practice, in an age of strong presidents and a muscular Senate minority (no matter which party is in that position).
In this sparkling addition to Oxford's Very Short Introduction series, Donald Ritchie moves beyond the cynicism and the platitudes to provide a gem of a portrait of how Congress really works.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This is a lively, comprehensive and knowing guide to the Congress that leaves nothing out. With clarity and good humor, Donald Ritchie explains how Congress works in a way I never thought possible. His book should be read by every citizen, by every journalist, and even by every member of the Congress."—Roger Mudd, former CBS News Congressional correspondent

"This volume delivers an elegant, informative, and entertaining tour of the legislative branch. It manages to cover an impressive amount of ground with the benefit of smart organization, economical prose, and an insider's eye for what is interesting and important. In short, it is the kind of book diligent citizens should read."—Paul Charles Milazzo, Associate Professor of History, Ohio University

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199746217
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 6/8/2010
  • Series: Very Short Introductions
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Sales rank: 474,187
  • File size: 3 MB

Meet the Author

Donald A. Ritchie is Historian of the U.S. Senate. His books include Our Constitution; The Oxford Guide to the United States Government; Press Gallery: Congress and the Washington Correspondents; Reporting from Washington: The History of the Washington Press Corps; and Electing FDR: The New Deal Campaign of 1932.

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Table of Contents

Preface
Chapter 1: The Great Compromise
-Why Not a Parliament? -All Laws Necessary and Proper -The People's House -The Cooling Senate -To Get Along, Go Along
Chapter 2: Campaigns and Constituents
-Campaigning for Congress -The Freshman Class -Serving Constituents -Media Relations and News Coverage
Chapter 3: Congress at Work
-The Committees -Turning Bills into Laws -House Committees -Senate Committees -Appropriations: Where Things Happen
Chapter 4: Floor Proceedings and Coalition Building
-Debate, Rules, and Procedure -Majority Rule in the House -Minority Muscle in the Senate -Making Laws and Making Sausage
Chapter 5: Checks and Balances
-The Chief Legislator -Advice and Consent -War and Peace -Congress Investigates -Punishment and Protection -Congress and the Courts
Chapter 6: The Contours of Capitol Hill
-The Capitol -The Members -The Staff -Lobbyists and Other Visitors
Bibliography
Notes
Index

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