Monday, October 4, 2010

The Waxman report: How congress really works

Book Club... And Then Some!

The Waxman report: How congress really works  


by Henry Waxman (with Joshua Green)

Book Review by Richard L. Weaver II, Ph.D.

Waxman’s introduction to his book, which chronicles the April 14, 1994, hearings on the American tobacco industry and tobacco’s dangers (provided in detail in Chapter 9, “The Tobacco Wars”) gives but a hint—albeit a valuable one—about what is to come in his book and how stories like this one can effectively hold the reader’s attention.

Waxman (and Green’s) prose is described accurately by one of his reviewers as “swift and penetrating, and a pleasure.”

Although this book is a political autobiography, it is not the usual kind.  This one, instead, explains the five different laws Waxman worked on (HIV/AIDS and the Ryan White Act, the Orphan Drug Act, the Clean Air Act, Nutrition Labeling and Dietary Supplements, and Pesticides and Food), and the two major oversight investigations of which he was part (the tobacco wars and steroids and major league baseball).  This focus allows Waxman not only to highlight some of the most important health and safety issues of the past 30 years, but to clearly and vividly explain the give and take (horse trading) that goes on in Congress, the obstinate and immovable personalities that are always present, and some of the legislative tricks necessary to get legislation passed.

There is drama, as well as corruption and cynicism.  There is legislative craftsmanship, too, and no matter your political persuasion, here is a template for anyone who has a true interest in making the government serve the people, making the laws of Americans better, and making government—and its elected officials—take responsibility for their actions.

Waxman’s book is highly informative, insightful, interesting, well-written, and a true pleasure to read. 


This book is available from The Waxman report: How congress really works

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