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Legislative Branch (Congress) Books

Lee Hamilton, How Congress Works and Why You Should Care (2004)

A longtime congressman from Indiana, author Lee Hamilton served in the House of Representatives for 34 years. In this book, he attempts to describe how the institution really works, from the inside. Hamilton has a clear allegiance to the Congress and his book might be read as a kind of subtle defense of the legislative branch against the nation's widespread criticism of it.

Robert Remini, The House: The History of the House of Representatives (2007)

Remini, a talented popular historian, has joined forces with the Library of Congress to produce this highly readable—if not terribly critical—narrative history of the House of Representatives. For anyone interested in the 220-year history of the House, this is a great place to start.

Lewis Gould, The Most Exclusive Club: A History of the Modern United States Senate (2006)

Gould's history of the Senate in the twentieth century takes a much more critical tone than Remini's history of the House; where Remini seems to have a certain affection for his subject, Gould's view of the Senate often seems to stand on the tipping point between skepticism and contempt. But there is a great deal of worthwhile material here, and Gould's interpretation of the Senate as an elitist institution full of egomaniacal grandstanders, often standing in the way of progress, is not one that entirely lacks justification.

Robert A. Caro, Master of the Senate: The Years of Lyndon Johnson (2002)

Lyndon Johnson became president because he was vice president when John F. Kennedy was assassinated. But he became vice president because he built himself up into one of the most powerful figures in Congress in the twentieth century. Caro's biography describes in staggering detail—weighing in at a hefty 1000 pages—Johnson's mastery of Senate politics in the 1950s.

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