DEADLOCK OR DECISION

THE U.S. SENATE AND THE RISE OF NATIONAL POLITICS

An important, if ponderous, inquiry into the Senate's evolution, its periods of influence and decline, and its urgent need for self-reform. Harris (Political Science/University of New Mexico; Potomac Fever, 1977, etc.) knows whereof he speaks: He's a former Democratic senator from Oklahoma. The author's concept of the ``nationalization'' of US politics—in which TV, rapid travel, and fast transmission of news have made the country a single community—is useful. Today's sometimes dysfunctional Senate, he explains, has been shaped in part by positive developments—a better-educated electorate with more interest in government, and greater media scrutiny of Senate activities. But despite Harris's reverence for what he continually calls the ``world's greatest deliberative body,'' he admits that the Senate is in bad need of reform. Legislation is held up endlessly in committees, in procedural wrangles, and by grandstanding lawmakers; the budget-making process is highly inefficient; lobbyists have a lock on senators, whose pay, Harris says, is insufficient to live on; extremism slows formation of consensus; campaign strategists pander to the worst in the electorate; and campaign finance laws are widely abused or evaded. Certain Senate powers—the ratification of treaties and confirmation of judges—have grown with time, but the Senate, Harris says, desperately needs to be restored to its place as party with the President to all military decisions before many more Koreas or Vietnams pass. Harris's analysis of the deficit crisis shows that the Senate has actually made strides in reducing the debt—if not the public-relations monster the issue has become. Descriptions of the Senate's early history are fascinating, but the text as a whole is in want of color and illustrative anecdotes; summary remarks at each section's end are highly repetitive. A effective overview of the Senate's history and development, making clear how reform of this once-august institution could profit the country immensely.

Pub Date: June 1, 1993

ISBN: 0-19-508025-4

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1993

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DEAR MR. HENSHAW

Possibly inspired by the letters Cleary has received as a children's author, this begins with second-grader Leigh Botts' misspelled fan letter to Mr. Henshaw, whose fictitious book itself derives from the old take-off title Forty Ways W. Amuse a Dog. Soon Leigh is in sixth grade and bombarding his still-favorite author with a list of questions to be answered and returned by "next Friday," the day his author report is due. Leigh is disgruntled when Mr. Henshaw's answer comes late, and accompanied by a set of questions for Leigh to answer. He threatens not to, but as "Mom keeps nagging me about your dumb old questions" he finally gets the job done—and through his answers Mr. Henshaw and readers learn that Leigh considers himself "the mediumest boy in school," that his parents have split up, and that he dreams of his truck-driver dad driving him to school "hauling a forty-foot reefer, which would make his outfit add up to eighteen wheels altogether. . . . I guess I wouldn't seem so medium then." Soon Mr. Henshaw recommends keeping a diary (at least partly to get Leigh off his own back) and so the real letters to Mr. Henshaw taper off, with "pretend," unmailed letters (the diary) taking over. . . until Leigh can write "I don't have to pretend to write to Mr. Henshaw anymore. I have learned to say what I think on a piece of paper." Meanwhile Mr. Henshaw offers writing tips, and Leigh, struggling with a story for a school contest, concludes "I think you're right. Maybe I am not ready to write a story." Instead he writes a "true story" about a truck haul with his father in Leigh's real past, and this wins praise from "a real live author" Leigh meets through the school program. Mr. Henshaw has also advised that "a character in a story should solve a problem or change in some way," a standard juvenile-fiction dictum which Cleary herself applies modestly by having Leigh solve his disappearing lunch problem with a burglar-alarmed lunch box—and, more seriously, come to recognize and accept that his father can't be counted on. All of this, in Leigh's simple words, is capably and unobtrusively structured as well as valid and realistic. From the writing tips to the divorced-kid blues, however, it tends to substitute prevailing wisdom for the little jolts of recognition that made the Ramona books so rewarding.

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 1983

ISBN: 143511096X

Page Count: 133

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1983

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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