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Act of Congress
How America's Essential Institution Works, and How It Doesn't
Written by Robert G. Kaiser

Act of Congress
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Category: Political Science - Congress
Imprint: Vintage
Format: Trade Paperback
Pub Date: January 2014
Price: $16.95
Can. Price: $19.95
ISBN: 978-0-307-74451-7 (0-307-74451-5)
Pages: 464
Also available as an eBook and a hardcover.



 
A Washington Post Notable Book

An eye-opening account of how Congress today really works—and how it doesn’t—that follows the dramatic journey of the sweeping financial reform bill enacted in response to the Great Crash of 2008. Act of Congress focuses on two of the major players behind the legislation: colorful, wisecracking congressman Barney Frank, and careful, insightful senator Christopher Dodd, both of whom met regularly with Robert G. Kaiser during the eighteen months they worked on the bill. In this compelling narrative, staffers play a critical role, writing the legislation and often making the crucial deals. Kaiser’s rare insider access enabled him to illuminate the often-hidden intricacies of legislative enterprise and shows us the workings of Congress in all of its complexity, a clearer picture than any we have had of how Congress works best—or sometimes doesn’t work at all.

“Informative, incisive and timely, Act of Congress provides essential lessons in civics about how business is done in Washington, D.C.” —The Boston Globe

“Mr. Kaiser depicts the gruesome business of legislating in the wickedly honest fashion only a journalistic veteran, liberated from the restraints imposed on daily reporters, could get away with. . . . He names names and spares no one.” —The Wall Street Journal

“A harrowing picture of dysfunction. . . . Particularly valuable and worth reading . . . [Act of Congress] uses the passage of the most far-reaching piece of financial reform legislation since the New Deal to show not how Congress works, but how it doesn’t, even when a result is attained.” —The New York Review of Books

“Like [Robert] Caro, Kaiser has a gift for writing a legislative page-turner. . . . This should be a book on every informed voter’s reading list.”
New York Journal of Books

“A crackling page-turner. . . . [Kaiser] delivers a clear understanding of the issues as well as the exhausting, exhilarating and often appalling political process. His extensive original reporting and deep research lend both richness and authority to the lively text.” —The Plain Dealer

“One of the best books on the [legislative] process in a long time.” —Bloomberg

“Certain to become a classic, this rich and beautifully crafted book tells the story of a rare moment of congressional success. Who would have thought such a thing possible?” —Lawrence Lessig, professor at Harvard Law School

“Congress is the most powerful, and least well understood, branch of the American government. Luckily, Robert Kaiser is here to explain it to us. Required reading for anyone who is affected by Washington, which is, as Kaiser demonstrates in this book, all of us.” —Ezra Klein, columnist, The Washington Post

“A tour de force, an unparalleled account of the difficulty of legislating in an intensely polarized political era. Robert Kaiser brings decades of experience to the task, deftly showing how lawmakers balanced policy goals and political risk to build bicameral majorities for landmark Wall Street reform.” —Sarah Binder, professor of political science at George Washington University

Act of Congress is easily the best book on Congress I have read in decades. It is a stupendous achievement—Richly informative, a pleasure to read, wise in its assessments of why Dodd-Frank was able to succeed and how this case is more exception than rule in these difficult governing times. . . . A classic.” —Thomas E. Mann, Senior Fellow, Governance Studies, The Brookings Institution

“It’s wonderful to read a story about how Congress can actually get something done. This is an exclusive behind-the-scenes tale of how an important bill became law. It’s a book we really need now.” —Walter Isaacson, author of Steve Jobs

“Kaiser writes with the clarity of a world-class journalist, the depth of a scholar, and the evocative style of a novelist. His latest book about Barney Frank, Chris Dodd, and financial reform is a master class in understanding the modern Congress.” —David Maraniss, author of Barack Obama: The Story



ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 
Robert G. Kaiser has been on the staff of The Washington Post since 1963. He has reported on the House and Senate; was a correspondent in Saigon and Moscow; served as national editor and managing editor; and is currently associate editor and senior correspondent. He has also written for Esquire, Foreign Affairs, and The New York Review of Books. His books include Russia: The People and the Power; So Damn Much Money; and, with Leonard Downie Jr., The News About the News. He has received an Overseas Press Club award, a National Press Club award, and was a Pulitzer Prize finalist. He has also been a commentator on NPR's All Things Considered. He lives in Washington, D.C.





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