Desk 88: Eight Progressive Senators Who Changed America


Sherrod Brown - 2019
    Senate in 2006, Ohio’s Sherrod Brown has sat on the Senate floor at a mahogany desk with a proud history. In Desk 88, he tells the story of eight of the Senators who were there before him. "Perhaps the most imaginative book to emerge from the Senate since Senator John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts produced Profiles in Courage." —David M. Shribman, The Boston GlobeDespite their flaws and frequent setbacks, each made a decisive contribution to the creation of a more just America. They range from Hugo Black, who helped to lift millions of American workers out of poverty, to Robert F. Kennedy, whose eyes were opened by an undernourished Mississippi child and who then spent the rest of his life afflicting the comfortable. Brown revives forgotten figures such as Idaho’s Glen Taylor, a singing cowboy who taught himself economics and stood up to segregationists, and offers new insights into George McGovern, who fought to feed the poor around the world even amid personal and political calamities. He also writes about Herbert Lehman of New York, Al Gore Sr. of Tennessee, Theodore Francis Green of Rhode Island, and William Proxmire of Wisconsin. Together, these eight portraits in political courage tell a story about the triumphs and failures of the Progressive idea over the past century: in the 1930s and 1960s, and more intermittently since, politicians and the public have successfully fought against entrenched special interests and advanced the cause of economic or racial fairness. Today, these advances are in peril as employers shed their responsibilities to employees and communities, and a U.S. president gives cover to bigotry. But the Progressive idea is not dead. Recalling his own career, Brown dramatizes the hard work and high ideals required to renew the social contract and create a new era in which Americans of all backgrounds can know the “Dignity of Work.”

Justice on Trial: The Kavanaugh Confirmation and the Future of the Supreme Court


Mollie Hemingway - 2019
     The Trump presidency opened with the appointment of Neil Gorsuch to succeed the late Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court. But the following year, when Trump drew from the same list of candidates for his nomination of Brett Kavanaugh, the justice being replaced was the swing vote on abortion, and all hell broke loose. The judicial confirmation process, on the point of breakdown for thirty years, now proved utterly dysfunctional. Unverified accusations of sexual assault became weapons in a ruthless campaign of personal destruction, culminating in the melodramatic hearings in which Kavanaugh’s impassioned defense resuscitated a nomination that seemed beyond saving. The Supreme Court has become the arbiter of our nation’s most vexing and divisive disputes. With the stakes of each vacancy incalculably high, the incentive to destroy a nominee is nearly irresistible. The next time a nomination promises to change the balance of the Court, Hemingway and Severino warn, the confirmation fight will be even uglier than Kavanaugh’s. A good person might accept that nomination in the naïve belief that what happened to Kavanaugh won’t happen to him because he is a good person. But it can happen, it does happen, and it just happened. The question is whether America will let it happen again.

The Price of Loyalty: George W. Bush, the White House, and the Education of Paul O'Neill


Ron Suskind - 2004
    At its core are the candid assessments of former Secretary of the Treasury Paul O'Neill, the only member of Bush's cabinet to leave and speak frankly about how and why the administration has come to its core policies and decisions -- from cutting taxes for the rich to conducting preemptive war.O'Neill's account is supported by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Ron Suskind's interviews with numerous participants in the administration, by transcripts of meetings, and by voluminous documents. The result is a disclosure of breadth and depth unparalleled for an ongoing presidency. As readers are taken to the very epicenter of government, Suskind presents an astonishing picture of a president so carefully managed in his public posture that he is a mystery to most Americans. Now, he is revealed.

The Majesty of the Law: Reflections of a Supreme Court Justice


Sandra Day O'Connor - 2002
    Tracing some of the origins of American law through history, people, ideas, and landmark cases, O’Connor sheds new light on the basics, exploring through personal observation the evolution of the Court and American democratic traditions. Straight-talking, clear-eyed, inspiring, The Majesty of the Law is more than a reflection on O’Connor’s own experiences as the first female Justice of the Supreme Court; it also reveals some of the things she has learned and believes about American law and life—reflections gleaned over her years as one of the most powerful and inspiring women in American history.

Promises to Keep: On Life and Politics


Joe Biden - 2007
    In fact, I believe that my chosen profession is a noble calling. That’s why I wanted to be a part of it.”–Joe BidenAs a United States senator from Delaware since 1973, Joe Biden has been an intimate witness to the major events of the past four decades and a relentless actor in trying to shape recent American history. He has seen up close the tragic mistake of the Vietnam War, the Watergate and Iran-contra scandals, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the reunification of Germany, the disintegration of the Soviet Union, the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, a presidential impeachment, a presidential resignation, and a presidential election decided by the Supreme Court. He’s observed Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Clinton, and two Bushes wrestling with the presidency; he’s traveled to war zones in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa and seen firsthand the devastation of genocide. He played a vital role by standing up to Ronald Reagan’s effort to seat Judge Robert Bork on the Supreme Court, fighting for legislation that protects women against domestic violence, and galvanizing America’s response (and the world’s) to Slobodan Milosevic’s genocidal march in the Balkans. In Promises to Keep, Biden reveals what these experiences taught him about himself, his colleagues, and the institutions of government.With his customary candor, Biden movingly recounts growing up in a staunchly Catholic multigenerational household in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and Wilmington, Delaware; overcoming a demoralizing stutter; marriage, fatherhood, and the tragic death of his wife Neilia and infant daughter Naomi; remarriage and re-forming a family with his second wife, Jill; success and failure in the Senate and on the campaign trail; two life-threatening aneurysms; his relations with fellow lawmakers on both sides of the aisle; and his leadership of powerful Senate committees.Through these and other recollections, Biden shows us how the guiding principles he learned early in life–the obligation to work to make people’s lives better, to honor family and faith, to get up and do the right thing no matter how hard you’ve been knocked down, to be honest and straightforward, and, above all, to keep your promises–are the foundations on which he has based his life’s work as husband, father, and public servant. Promises to Keep is the story of a man who faced down personal challenges and tragedy to become one of our most effective leaders. It is also an intimate series of reflections from a public servant who refuses to be cynical about political leadership, and a testament to the promise of the United States.

Believer: My Forty Years in Politics


David Axelrod - 2015
    Whether as a young journalist investigating city corruption, a campaign consultant guiding underdog candidates against entrenched orthodoxy, or as senior adviser to the president during one of the worst crises in American history, Axelrod held fast to his faith in the power of stories to unite diverse communities and ignite transformative political change. Now this legendary strategist, the mastermind behind Barack Obama’s historic election campaigns, shares a wealth of stories from his forty-year journey through the inner workings of American democracy. Believer is the tale of a political life well lived, of a man who never gave up on the deepest promises our country has to offer.Believer reveals the roots of Axelrod’s devotion to politics and his faith in democratic change. As a child of the ’60s in New York City, Axelrod worked his first campaigns during a tumultuous decade that began with soaring optimism and ended in violence and chaos. As a young newspaperman in Chicago during the 1970s and ’80s, Axelrod witnessed another world transformed when he reported on the dissolution of the last of the big city political machines—Richard Daley, Dan Rostenkowski, and Harold Washington—along with the emergence of a dynamic black independent movement that ultimately made Obama’s ascent possible.After cutting his teeth in the rollicking world of Chicago journalism, Axelrod switched careers to become a political strategist. His unorthodox tactics during his first campaign helped him get Paul Simon unexpectedly elected to the Senate, and soon Axelrod’s counsel was sought by the greatest lights of the Democratic Party. Working for path breakers like Hillary Clinton, Deval Patrick, and Rahm Emanuel—and morally conflicted characters like Rod Blagojevich and John Edwards—Axelrod, for better and worse, redefined the techniques by which modern political campaigns are run.The heart of Believer is Axelrod’s twenty-year friendship with Barack Obama, a warm partnership that inspired both men even as it propelled each to great heights. Taking a chance on an unlikely candidate for the U.S. Senate, Axelrod ultimately collaborated closely with Obama on his political campaigns, and served as the invaluable strategist who contributed to the tremendous victories of 2008 and 2012. Switching careers again, Axelrod served as senior adviser to the president during one of the most challenging periods in national history: working at Obama’s side as he battled an economic disaster; navigated America through two wars; and fought to reform health care, the financial sector, and our gridlocked political institutions. In Believer, Axelrod offers a deeper and richer profile of this extraordinary figure—who in just four years vaulted from the Illinois State Senate to the Oval Office—from the perspective of one who was at his side every step of the way.Spanning forty years that include corruption and transformation, turmoil and progress, Believer takes readers behind the closed doors of politics even as it offers a thrilling call to democratic action. Axelrod’s Believer is a powerful and inspiring memoir enlivened by the charm and candor of one of the greatest political strategists in recent American history. DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN, author of The Bully Pulpit and Team of Rivals “Beautifully written with warmth, humor, and remarkable self-awareness, Believer is one of the finest political memoirs I have ever read.”

Hillary's America


Dinesh D'Souza - 2016
    After eight years of Obama, four years—or possibly eight years—of Hillary Clinton as president of the United States would so utterly transform America as to make it unrecognizable.No more will America be a land of opportunity. Instead, it will be a land of rapacious crony capitalism, run solely for the benefit of friends of the Obamas and the Clintons and the Democratic Party. It will, in fact, be the fulfillment of a dream the Democratic Party has had from the beginning…a dream of stealing America for the politically favored few.In Hillary's America, D’Souza reveals the sordid truth about Hillary and the secret history of the Democratic Party, including: how Democrats transitioned from pro-slavery to pro-enslavement; the long-standing Democratic political war against women; how Hillary Clinton’s political mentor was, literally, a cold-blooded gangster; how the Clintons and other Democrats see foreign policy not in terms of national interest, but in terms of personal profit; how Democratically controlled cities have turned into hotbeds of crime and corruption; and much, much more.Not only is Hillary Clinton a liar and a criminal—who would have been indicted for mishandling classified information on her secret email sever had the Democratic Party not closed ranks around her—she is also the culmination of her party's deliberate and stunning plot to redistribute wealth and political power to the liberal elite.Find out how Hillary and Bill used the Clinton Foundation to ruthlessly sell State Department influence to the highest foreign bidder. Find out what shady backroom Democrat dealers taught Hillary Clinton her particular brand of corrupt party politics. And most importantly, find out whether America can stop her from destroying the country once and for all.

Scalia Dissents: Writings of the Supreme Court's Wittiest, Most Outspoken Justice


Antonin Scalia - 2004
    Colorful. Visionary. Tenacious. Witty. Since his appointment to the Supreme Court in 1986, Associate Justice Antonin Scalia has been described as all of these things and for good reason. He is perhaps the best-known justice on the Supreme Court today and certainly the most controversial. Yet most Americans have probably not read even one of his several hundred Supreme Court opinions. In Scalia Dissents, Kevin Ring, former counsel to the U.S. Senate's Constitution Subcommittee, lets Justice Scalia speak for himself. This volumethe first of its kind showcases the quotable justice's take on many of today's most contentious constitutional debates. "Scalia Dissents" contains over a dozen of the justice's most compelling and controversial opinions. Ring also provides helpful background on the opinions and a primer on Justice Scalia's judicial philosophy. "Scalia Dissents" is the perfect book for readers who love scintillating prose and penetrating insight on the most important constitutional issues of our time."

Man of the House: The Life and Political Memoirs of Speaker Tip O'Neill .


Tip O'Neill - 1987
    In the all-but-vanished tradition of ward healer, the retired Speaker of the House, writing in the first person, blends treacle (``I would work to make sure my own people could go to places like Harvard'') and shrewdness (``power accumulates when people think you have power''), idealism and pragmatism, humor and heft as he relates anecdotes about the national figures he has dealt with in Washington, D.C., and politicians in Massachusetts where he spent eight terms in the legislature before joining Congress in 1952. Like ``a good Irish pol who can carry on six conversations at once,'' O'Neill talks about baseball, poker and his boyhood gang, issues of governance and the functioning of Congress, in which he served for 34 years. ``All politics is local,'' he writes, and this memoir makes that a truism, bringing national imperatives back home to the national constituency. - PUBLISHERS WEEKLY

Fighting for Common Ground: How We Can Fix the Stalemate in Congress


Olympia Snowe - 2013
    Snowe offers a candid appraisal of our broken political system and what can, and must, be done to fix it. A clarion call to action, she also pulls back the curtain on the highlights—and lowlights—of her career, her evolution as a legislator, and her remarkable life.Sen. Snowe’s story is filled with trials and setbacks but also perseverance and success, which molded her into the dedicated lawmaker and advocate she is today. Born in Augusta, Maine, to a Greek immigrant father and first generation American mother—both of whom were restaurant workers--Sen. Snowe was orphaned at the age of nine. She attended a school in New York run by the Greek Orthodox Church for children in need where she had her first taste of independence, often navigating trains solo between the school, New York City, and her aunt and uncle’s home in Maine. She graduated from the University of Maine where she studied political science. After her husband, a state legislator, was killed in an automobile accident when she was twenty-six, she ran for his seat, and thus began her remarkable political career serving in both the Maine House and Senate and in the U.S. House and U.S Senate, where she acquired a reputation for being hard-working and committed to seeking bipartisan solutions to even the most politically volatile issues. Sen. Snowe has been at the center of some of the most important political moments of our time. In FIGHTING FOR COMMON GROUND she offers an insider’s perspective on health care reform, the debt ceiling crisis, the Bush tax cuts, 9/11, women’s rights, the Clinton impeachment, and the financial crisis of 2008, among other hot button issues. She also offers a number of real solutions to America’s political gridlock, including steps that should be undertaken to change Senate rules and congressional procedures, and those that should be taken to enact campaign finance and political reform (see attached). Today she leads a political action committee, Olympia’s List, to further the goal of a truly bipartisan, productive Congress. Sen. Snowe has seen the worst that Congress has to offer, but she hasn’t lost hope that it can rise to once again be the greatest deliberative body in the world. By holding Congress and the White House accountable, by tackling real campaign finance reform, by building grassroots movements to reward consensus-building, and by actively engaging young people in the legislative system, she believes that the American people can once again put their faith in the government officials they elect.

The Senator: My Ten Years with Ted Kennedy


Richard E. Burke - 1992
    Kennedy of Massachusetts. Through ability, hard work, and dedication, Burke rose in the next four years to become one of the Senator's closest staff members. In 1977 he was made Kennedy's personal assistant; after his appointment in 1978 as administrative assistant - the youngest in the Senate - he came to know Edward M. Kennedy perhaps more intimately than anyone outside the closed circle of the Senator's family. He was often the last to see the Senator at night and the first to see him in the morning. This book is the account of what Richard Burke witnessed and experienced during his decade at the Senator's right hand. It is neither a full biography nor an examination of Kennedy's long career in government. Rather, it is the history of a young man who shared the Senator's professional and personal lives during a time marked by exhilarating public achievements and tragic secret misconduct. His story is not only the chronicle of a shattered idol, but of Richard Burke's own fall from grace, and eventual recovery. Burke does not shrink from confronting his own faults, and he agrees with the Senator: It is time for him to confront his.

The Back Channel: A Memoir of American Diplomacy and the Case for Its Renewal


William J. Burns - 2019
    Burns is the most distinguished and admired American diplomat of his generation. Over the course of four decades, he played a central role in the most consequential diplomatic episodes of his time--from the bloodless end of the Cold War to post-Cold War relations with Putin's Russia, from post-9/11 tumult in the Middle East to the secret nuclear talks with Iran. Upon his retirement, Secretary John Kerry said Burns belonged on "the short list of American diplomatic legends, alongside George Kennan."In The Back Channel, Burns recounts with vivid detail and incisive analysis some of the seminal moments of his career. He draws on a trove of newly declassified cables and memos to give readers a rare, inside look at American diplomacy in action. His dispatches from war-torn Chechnya and Qadhafi's camp in the deserts of Libya and his searing memos warning of the "Perfect Storm" unleashed by the Iraq War will reshape our understanding of history and the policy debates of the future. Burns sketches the contours of effective American leadership in a world that resembles neither the zero-sum Cold War contest of his early years as a diplomat, nor the "unipolar moment" of American primacy that followed. Ultimately, The Back Channel is an eloquent, deeply informed, and timely story of a life spent in service of American interests abroad, as well as a powerful reminder, in a time of great turmoil, of the importance of diplomacy.

The Senator Next Door: A Memoir from the Heartland


Amy Klobuchar - 2015
    Senate's most candid--and funniest--women tells the story of her life and her unshakeable faith in our democracy Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar has tackled every obstacle she's encountered--her parents' divorce, her father's alcoholism and recovery, her political campaigns and Washington's gridlock--with honesty, humor and pluck. Now, in The Senator Next Door, she chronicles her remarkable heartland journey, from her immigrant grandparents to her middle-class suburban upbringing to her rise in American politics.After being kicked out of the hospital while her infant daughter was still in intensive care, Klobuchar became the lead advocate for one of the first laws in the country guaranteeing new moms and their babies a 48-hour hospital stay. Later she ran Minnesota's biggest prosecutor's office and in 2006 was the first woman elected to the U.S. Senate from her state. Along the way she fashioned her own political philosophy grounded in her belief that partisan flame-throwing takes no courage at all; what really matters is forging alliances with unlikely partners to solve the nation's problems.Optimistic, plainspoken and often very funny, The Senator Next Door is a story about how the girl next door decided to enter the fray and make a difference. At a moment when America's government often seems incapable of getting anything done, Amy Klobuchar proves that politics is still the art of the possible.

Packing the Court: The Rise of Judicial Power and the Coming Crisis of the Supreme Court


James MacGregor Burns - 2009
    Packing the Court: The Rise of Judicial Power and the Coming Crisis of the Supreme Court

The Case for Impeachment


Allan J. Lichtman - 2017
    Lichtman illuminates exactly how the impeachment of President Trump might work by showing how his actions—past or future—make him uniquely vulnerable to impeachment proceedings. From his dealings with Russia, to his conflicts of interest at home and abroad, to the numerous civil suits involving him, Lichtman zeroes in on Mr. Trump’s key areas of weakness.Professor Lichtman also offers a fascinating look at presidential impeachments throughout American history, including the often-overlooked story of Andrew Johnson’s impeachment, little known details about Richard Nixon’s resignation, as well as Bill Clinton’s hearings.Many historians and legal scholars agree that we are facing uncharted political waters and most citizens—politics aside—want to know where the country is headed. Professor Lichtman has correctly predicted every Presidential election since 1984, including the election of 2016. Now, he is focusing on the 45th President of the United States, demonstrating his view that it is not a question of if President Trump will be impeached, but a question of when.