The Imprint of Congress


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David R. Mayhew

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What kind of job has America's routinely disparaged legislative body actually done?  In The Imprint of Congress, the distinguished congressional scholar David R. Mayhew gives us an insightful historical analysis of the U.S. Congress’s performance from the late eighteenth century to today, exploring what its lasting imprint has been on American politics and society.  Mayhew suggests that Congress has balanced the presidency in a surprising variety of ways, and in doing so, it has contributed to the legitimacy of a governing system faced by an often fractious public.

David R. Mayhew is Sterling Professor of Political Science Emeritus at Yale University and a specialist in American politics.

“An excellent book. Mayhew offers a unique perspective on a critical issue for evaluating the American constitutional system.”—Eric Schickler, University of California, Berkeley

“The scope of David Mayhew’s Imprint of Congress alone is simply breathtaking, but the economy of style makes the achievement even more impressive. The end result promises to become an essential ‘vest-pocket’ handbook for anyone interested in American political and policy history—or the nation’s future."—Richard Bensel, Cornell University

“Mayhew’s book is an important reminder that however awful Congress is to watch, its capacity to balance the presidency and represent a diverse society helps maintain the legitimacy of the American regime.”—Monkey Cage, The Washington Post

“An innovative examination of congressional policy making during periods of similar transnational movements.”—Choice

“[Mayhew’s] presentation—remarkably breezy, informal, irreverent, even conversational—combines magisterial ambition with the insights of a renowned scholar delivering his valedictory about the institution to which he has devoted a life of scrupulous study.”—The New Rambler

“Breezy. Serious. Encyclopedic. Brief. Intriguing. . . . [The Imprint of Congress] is a welcome addition to our understanding of institutions and outcomes.”—Burdett A. Loomis, Congress & the Presidency

“This book crystallizes a powerful perspective on American governing institutions, one that should be widely assigned in courses.  It can be read in a few hours, but it is richer in insight and ideas for future research than most books many times its length.”—Political Science Quarterly

“Mayhew’s methods for answering these ambitious questions are old-school and ingenious. . . His basic approach may be described as discursive empiricism. . . . The answers are ‘interesting,’ he claims, but many readers will consider them profound.”—Claremont Review of Books

“Thought-provoking and stimulating…should be of great interest to all scholars of American politics.”—Nicol Rae, The Forum2017

“His presentation—remarkably breezy, informal, irreverent, even conversational – combines magisterial ambition with the insights of a renowned scholar delivering his valedictory about the institution to which he has devoted a life of scrupulous study.”—Peter Schuck, The New Rambler

“[Mayhew’s] latest book weaves together themes from his lifetime of scholarship on representation and lawmaking along with many fresh insights to produce his most comprehensive statement yet on the mark that Congress has made on American politics and society.”—Monkey Cage
ISBN: 9780300215700
Publication Date: May 23, 2017
176 pages, 5-1/2 x 8-1/4
9 b/w illus.

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