The three hefty volumes in the updated Oxford Student Companions to American Government series discuss the three branches of federal government in the United States. Written with the intent to "examine Congress objectively, offering critical analysis and observations laced with humor rather than cynicism," The Congress provides extensive information about the people, events, procedures, and language of the legislature. Entries and articles include notable members of Congress, various constitutional powers, information about elections and succession, congressional agencies and staff, how house leadership operates, procedures and traditions, notable events and legislation, and congressional relations with the president. Items are arranged alphabetically and include see-also references. A section titled Doing Research on Congress: Further Reading provides additional sources and is followed by a brief explanation of how to use congressional documents such as the Congressional Record and the Congressional Hearing Index. This series provides an excellent starting point for junior high and high school students doing research and is up-to-date as of the start of the 107th Congress in January 2001. Index. Illus. Photos. Further Reading. Appendix. 2001, Oxford University Press, 248p. PLB
In 1870, Hiram Revel, a former chaplain in a black Civil War regiment, became the first African American elected to the United States Senate. Ironically, Mr. Revel occupied the senatorial seat once held by his fellow Mississippian, Jefferson Davis, the former head of the Confederacy. It is this type of fascinating historical detail that readers will be able to glean from this comprehensive encyclopedia of the United States Congress. Facts from A to Z related to keynote legislators, important bills, virtues and vices, parliamentary rules, and the tone of congressional hearings are all covered in a thorough and entertaining manner. Readers will come away from this well written and widely illustrated work with a better understanding of how the legislative branch of government functions. The author does a particularly noteworthy job of capturing the "human face" of the men and women who have served in either the House or the Senate. Readers will hear former Speaker of the House Tip O'Neill's father advising him that, "All politics is local." In another light, they will observe as Strom Thurman engages in a twenty-four hour and eighteen minute filibuster, the longest on record, as he campaigns against 1957 civil rights legislation. Through such anecdotes and the wealth of information included in this excellent book, readers will be better able to both understand the functioning of government and participate in it. 2001, Oxford University Press, $45.00. Ages 12 up. Reviewer: Greg M. Romaneck
Gr 8 Up-Alphabetically arranged entries, ranging in length from a single paragraph to one or two pages, objectively explain the institutional structures and procedures necessary for the creation of laws as well as other important terms such as censure, cloture, and filibuster. The author also includes interesting details about more mundane subjects such as the bean soup served daily in the House and Senate restaurants, junkets, and Congressional humor, and offers essays about multicultural topics such as representation of minorities. While there is some biographical information, it is limited to those in leadership positions or who made significant historical contributions. This edition has been updated to include recent events such as the Clinton impeachment, the Gingrich and Hastert speakerships, and the role of Congress in the disputed 2000 presidential election. Most entries conclude with see-also references and further reading suggestions. Unfortunately, the index does not include some of the new entries, such as Trent Lott and J. Dennis Hastert. Additionally, the heading on the page for Hastert is incorrect. The well-chosen illustrations include black-and-white photos, portraits, and political cartoons. Despite some flaws, the comprehensive coverage and clear writing will provide answers to virtually any question that young researchers may have about the Congress.-Mary Mueller, Rolla Junior High School, MO Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.