cover image The Last Great Senate: 
Courage and Statesmanship 
in Times of Crisis

The Last Great Senate: Courage and Statesmanship in Times of Crisis

Ira Shapiro. PublicAffairs, $34.99 (496p) ISBN 978-1-58648-936-6

At a time when the hapless U.S. Congress has received low approval ratings, Shapiro, a former Senate staffer and now an international trade lawyer, looks back at a golden era of lawmakers who performed admirably in a period of domestic and foreign crisis in the late 1970s. Using Capitol Hill documents, media accounts, and interviews with congressional and White House officials, he shows this was a time of active legislators on both sides of the aisle putting aside partisanship and ideology to create a national energy formula, strengthen the Panama Canal treaty, control a tax revolt, investigate Watergate, and stifle numerous crises in the Mideast. Shapiro ably paints the political stumbles of the “outsider” administration of President Jimmy Carter in dealing with a congressional powerhouse consisting of senators Robert Byrd, Howard Baker, Ted Kennedy, Jacob Javits, Henry “Scoop” Jackson, Richard Lugar, and George McGovern. The administration and the Senate were at odds over nuclear weapons reductions, OPEC schemes, and saving financially troubled New York City and Chrysler. In his chronicle of Beltway politics, Shapiro’s excellent account of wise, capable U.S. senators putting constitutional concerns over party and ideology to do the people’s business is a prime example of how Washington can overcome its present deadlock. Agent: Kathleen Anderson. (Feb.)