Want to know what books Julian E. Zelizer recommends on their reading list? We've researched interviews, social media posts, podcasts, and articles to build a comprehensive list of Julian E. Zelizer's favorite book recommendations of all time.
Hyperpartisanship has gridlocked the American government. Congress's approval ratings are at record lows, and both Democrats and Republicans are disgusted by the government's inability to get anything done. In It's Even Worse Than It Looks, renowned scholars Thomas E. Mann and Norman J. Ornstein present a grim picture of how party polarization and tribal politics have led Congress -- and the United States... more
Hyperpartisanship has gridlocked the American government. Congress's approval ratings are at record lows, and both Democrats and Republicans are disgusted by the government's inability to get anything done. In It's Even Worse Than It Looks, renowned scholars Thomas E. Mann and Norman J. Ornstein present a grim picture of how party polarization and tribal politics have led Congress -- and the United States -- to the brink of institutional failure.
In this revised edition, the authors update their seminal book to take stock of the ever-worsening political situation. The underlying dynamics -- extremist Republicans holding government hostage to their own ideological, anti-government beliefs -- have only gotten worse, further bolstering their argument that Republicans are not merely ideologically different from Democrats, but engaged in a unique form of politics that undermines the system itself.
Julian E. ZelizerNorm Ornstein and Thomas Mann are a great team; they’ve been writing and opining about Congress for decades. They’re really easy to listen to and fun to read. They know how to explain what’s going on to a lay audience. Most importantly they’re always very balanced in their coverage. (Source)
Analyzing leadership, committee, and procedural restructuring in four periods (1890-1910, 1919-1932, 1937-1952, and 1970-1989), Schickler argues that coalitions promoting a wide range of member interests drive change in both the House and Senate. He shows that multiple interests determine institutional innovation within a period; that different interests are important in different periods; and, more broadly, that changes in the salient collective interests across time do not follow a simple logical or developmental sequence. Institutional development appears disjointed, as new arrangements are layered on preexisting structures intended to serve competing interests. An epilogue assesses the rise and fall of Newt Gingrich in light of these findings.
Schickler's model of disjointed pluralism integrates rational choice theory with historical institutionalist approaches. It both complicates and advances efforts at theoretical synthesis by proposing a fuller, more nuanced understanding of institutional innovation--and thus of American political development and history.
-- "Choice" less
Julian E. ZelizerSchickler offers some of the best analytical work that we have on the institution. He shows that to understand Congress you can’t just look at political moment. Disjointed Pluralism looks at different periods of congressional reform—such as the early 20th century, and the 1970s—and shows that during periods of reform, we usually don’t get rid of the system that came before. Reforms are layered on... (Source)
David R. Mayhew examines standard history books on the United States and identifies... more
David R. Mayhew examines standard history books on the United States and identifies more than two thousand actions by individual members of the House and Senate that are significant enough to be mentioned. Mayhew offers insights into a wide range of matters, from the nature of congressional opposition to presidents and the surprising frequency of foreign policy actions to the timing of notable activity within congressional careers (and the way that congressional term limits might affect these performances). His book sheds new light on the contributions to U.S. history made by members of Congress. less
Julian E. ZelizerDavid Mayhew is one of the great political scientists in America. The book does a really nice job, for lay people and for experts, of creating categories of the different types of actions that members of Congress have done since the start of the country. Mayhew methodically shows that many of the ideas that become the New Deal came from Robert Wagner, a member of Congress during the 1930s, rather... (Source)
James PurnellYes. Perhaps it’s only for the true believers. It is quite an enterprise to read, but compelling partly because Lyndon Johnson was such a beautifully unattractive character. He was a horrible bully who humiliated his staff and who found a way of endearing himself to the oil barons of Texas by launching a McCarthyite campaign, before McCarthy, against the electricity regulator. He ruined this... (Source)
Julian E. ZelizerI always tell people that this is one of the first books you should read if you’re really interested in congressional history. It’s a wonderful book, the third part of Caro’s multi-volume biography of President Lyndon Johnson that focuses on his time as Senate Majority Leader. It’s also a splendid history of the Senate itself. (Source)
These fights didn't happen in a vacuum. Freeman's accounts of fistfights and threats tell a larger story of how bullying, brawling, and the press - and the powerful emotions they elicited - raised tensions between North and South and fueled the coming of the war. In the process, she brings the antebellum Congress to life, revealing its rough realities - the feel, sense, and sound of it - as well as its nation-shaping import. Funny, tragic, and rivetingly told, The Field of Blood offers a front-row view of congressional mayhem and sheds new light on the careers of luminaries such as John Quincy Adams and Thomas Hart Benton, as well as introducing a host of lesser-known but no less fascinating characters. We see slaveholders silence Northerners with threats and violence. We learn how newspapers promoted conspiracy theories that helped polarize the nation. And we witness an entire legislative chamber erupt into a massive fist-throwing, spittoon-tossing battle royal. By 1860, armed congressmen, some carrying pistols sent by their constituents, fully expected bloody combat in the House. In effect, the first battles of the Civil War were fought in Congress itself.
The Field of Blood demonstrates how a country can come apart as conflicts over personal honor, party loyalty, and moral principle combine and escalate. The result is a fresh understanding of the workings of American democracy and the bonds of Union on the eve of their greatest peril. less
Julian E. ZelizerThe book’s point is that in the nineteenth century, Congress was an incredibly contentious place. Today, we think the parties can’t get along, but back in the nineteenth century, tensions were so severe that members were physically fighting on the floor of Congress. The book is well-written, and it brings Congress to life through these stories. Freeman conveys the flavor of the floor in a way... (Source)
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