In dry, but readable, prose, this book uses eight landmark decisions of the United States Senate (Prohibition, Social Security, the Taft-Hartley Act, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, direct election of the president, the War Powers Act, the Gramm-Rudman bill, and the Brady bill), to illustrate how legislation is first introduced, then considered and voted into law. Each chapter gives background information on the issue under consideration. Options to either support or oppose, with arguments in support of each viewpoint, are clearly set out, and the actual decision of the Senate is given, with an analysis of the implications. This format provides clear, accurate historical information, allows readers to think, and clarifies the legislative process. The pro and con approach resembles voter pamphlets, with their presentation of arguments for and against legislation. This is a useful research tool that could be well used in civics classrooms. Liberally used, well-placed black-and-white reproductions, photographs, and maps put faces on the names and the issues. Good source notes, an exemplary bibliography, and an accurate index flesh the volume out. Index. Illus. Photos. Maps. Charts. Biblio. Source Notes. VOYA Codes: 4Q 1P J S (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses, No YA will read unless forced to for assignments, Junior High-defined as grades 7 to 9 and Senior High-defined as grades 10 to 12).
School Library Journal
Gr 6 UpMembers of the United States Senate often have to tackle major public-policy issues at times of great public debate and division. Here Aaseng discusses eight major decisions made by the Senate in the 20th century: Prohibition, the Social Security Act, the Taft-Hartley bill, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, direct election of the President, the War Powers resolution, the Gramm-Rudman bill, and the Brady bill. As he has done in his books about decision-making by presidents, generals, and Supreme Court justices, the author provides just enough background information for readers to consider three options in each situation. He then reveals the Senate's vote and the historical consequences. The format balances the interests of those on all sides of each question, and effectively portrays the emotions of the public and the decision makers. Much of this material will be new to this audience, as history textbooks ordinarily do not provide this depth of information. Period photographs and portraits of key players break up the text. A brief description of how a bill becomes law and a couple of web sites (already superseded by others) round out the presentation. However, Donald Ritchie's The Senate (Chelsea, 1988) does a better job of covering the sweep of history with wider-ranging analysis. Thus, it is superior for reports, although the popularity of Aaseng's other incident-based books should guarantee this one a place in libraries.Jonathan Betz-Zall, Sno-Isle Regional Library System, Edmonds, WA