Summary and Info
The government of the United States is divided into three branches - legislative, executive and judiciary. These branches are represented by Congress, the President and the Supreme Court. Even though in the public's mind the executive branch might appear to be the most important and powerful, it is the legislative branch to which the U.S. Constitution assigns the most important role. This stems from the idea that this is by far the most representative of all the branches of the federal government, and in some sense comes closest to reflecting the actual popular will. In light of that, anyone who is interested in understanding American domestic politics needs to know what exactly the role of Congress is, both as it is spelled out in the Constitution as well as how it operates in practice.
No single book can do justice to the entire history and its complexity of such an important subject, but this very short introduction provides the reader with a very good first step toward that end. The book tries to present an impartial view of the U.S. Congress by presenting its history and the evolving role that it has played in U.S. domestic policy. The book presents many vignettes and anecdotes that illustrate some of the more interesting themes. A lot of space is dedicated to the way that Congress operates in practice as opposed to its purely legal status within the federal government. In this respect, this is a very valuable book even for those who think they understand the operation of Congress fairly well from their civics classes. The book also dispels certain misconceptions that have been entrenched about workings of Congress. Another interesting aspect of this book concerns the comparisons between the U.S. Congress and a few other parliamentary bodies around the world, and the British Parliament in particular. Overall this is a very well organized book that provides an interesting read, and a useful primer on one of the most important political institutions in the world.
More About the Author
Donald A. Ritchie (born December 23, 1945) is Historian Emeritus of the United States Senate.
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