A book that begins as ineptly as this--with a labored description of the Capitol front, ""or facade,"" and no corresponding photo anywhere--has to be misconceived; and so it proves to be. To explain the operation of Congress, Weill traces its history--giving us, e.g., the origin of the committee system, the proliferation and consolidation of committees; the first (1792) Congressional committee investigation; and a hypothetical early House-Senate conference committee meeting. Or: a review of the successive rules changes in 1890, 1910, and 1975, the first under--you know--Speaker of the House Thomas Reed of Maine. Today's Representative-in-action, however, is ""Bob Brown,"" nobody from nowhere; and nothing said about this cipher brings him to life. Some of Weiss' points are worth making--the white, moneyed, male composition of the first House, the abuse of power that brought Nixon down--but the vehicle doesn't sustain them. Books like Lavine's What Does a Congressman Do and Hoopes' What a United States Congressman Does are superficial and trite and textbook-clear; this volume--more background than foreground--aims to explain what it doesn't necessarily make plain.