Books: The Taming of the House

FORGE OF DEMOCRACY (496 pp.)—Neil MacNeil—McKay ($6.75).

De Tocqueville, who liked much of what he saw in America, described the House of Representatives as a place of "vulgar demeanor," without a single "man of celebrity." Lord Bryce complained that it made as much noise as "waves in a squall." Dickens scoffed that not even "steady, old chewers" in the House could hit a spittoon. And 19th century Americans generally referred to the House as the "Bear Garden." But the House has improved with age, writes Neil MacNeil, TIME'S chief congressional correspondent, in this entertaining...

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