When Government Was Good: Memories of a Life in Politics

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“These engaging memoirs should be read by everyone who wants the American government to live up to its awesome challenges and to fulfill its noblest dreams.”—Robert F. Drinan

“Reuss’s articulate analysis of legislative matters was admirable, even to those of us who seldom agreed with his conclusions.”—John Rhodes, former Republican leader of the U.S. House of Representatives

When Government Was Good is an engaging memoir by one of the most thoughtful and constructive legislators of the century—especially valuable for Henry Reuss’s reflections on the inner life of the House of Representatives.”—Arthur Schlesinger Jr.
U. S. House Representative Henry S. Reuss (Dem., Wisconsin, 1955-83) believes there was indeed a time when government worked—the "Golden Age" of 1948-68. Then, he recalls, the economy was functioning, the long overdue civil rights movement had begun to blossom, and the government had integrity.  Not afraid to call things as they are, he blasts the political forces that have led to the disintegration of this Golden Age: economic and racial inequality and excessive militarism.
    Reuss emerged from the privileged domain of a wealthy, educated, white man into the realities of contemporary world politics—he saw the inequality and poverty in American cities and third world countries, and he saw politicians and laws disrespectful of the environment. Taking these experiences to heart, Reuss took action. He authored the legislation that led to the Peace Corps, he fought for environmental protection, and became a major voice in American politics. When Government Was Good provides anyone interested in public life with insights about this fascinating man's experiences, beliefs and ideas for addressing the problems of the twenty-first century.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
When government worked, and how it can again.
Library Journal
Offering both an autobiography and a critique of Congress, Reuss, the former liberal Democratic congressman from Milwaukee, accounts for the first 86 years of his life. His sixth book reflects his enduring and interwoven public policy and personal interests. It tells the story of a German American who grew up in Milwaukee during World War I and shows the impact of the New Deal and World War II on him. The latter war made him an internationalist and his education prepared him for the law, but his primary interests were political. As a U.S. Representative (1955-83), he authored the legislation that led to the Peace Corps. The title suggests nostalgia for political life from 1948 to 1968, a good government era considered by Reuss as comparable to the republic's founding and the New Deal. Political buffs will rejoice in reliving this progressive era through this highly readable account, which could easily fit into the classroom. Recommended.--William D. Pederson, Louisiana State Univ., Shreveport
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780299161903
  • Publisher: University of Wisconsin Press
  • Publication date: 5/14/1999
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 192
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Henry S. Reuss has written five other books, one of which is co-authored by his wife Margaret.

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Table of Contents

Pt. I Getting There (1912-1955)
1 Growing Up German American (1912-1936) 3
2 Depression and War (1936-1946) 11
3 The Rocky Road to Capitol Hill (1946-1955) 26
Pt. II The Well of the House (1955-1983)
4 Foreign Policy 53
5 The Environment 70
6 Full Employment Without Inflation 81
7 International Economics 94
8 The House Banking Committee 101
9 The City 112
10 Equal Rights 120
11 Serving Constituents 132
12 Our Constitutional System 137
Pt. III Tapering off (1983 and After)
13 Discovering Nongovernmental Organizations 157
14 Reflections on the Golden Age 164
Notes 171
Index 179
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