cover image Do Not Ask What Good We Do: Inside the U.S. House of Representatives

Do Not Ask What Good We Do: Inside the U.S. House of Representatives

Robert Draper. Free Press, $28 (329p) ISBN 978-1-4516-4208-7

First United States Congress member Fisher Ames couldn't have known how poignant his admonishment to "not ask what good we do" would become in light of the abysmally ineffective 112th Congress, particularly the House of Representatives, controlled by the GOP and with 96 freshman%E2%80%9487 of them Republicans%E2%80%94on its contentious roster. Plagued by an embarrassing 9% approval rating and a startlingly low passage of bills, the current House has also suffered from the personal tragedies and mistakes of its members, particularly the shooting of Gabrielle Giffords in 2011 and Anthony Weiner's sexting scandal. Indeed, Draper focuses on the lives of Representatives%E2%80%94from both parties%E2%80%94inside and outside the House, and details the incredibly dynamic interpersonal politics that are the hallmark and the bane of a truly democratic institution. Characterized by the same level of detail and evenhandedness that suffused 2008's Dead Certain: The Presidency of George W. Bush, Draper's newest is an in-depth look behind the scenes of what 29-term Representative John Dingell called "the most human institution on the planet." (Apr.)