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

3.86 of 5 stars 3.86  ·  rating details  ·  636 ratings  ·  126 reviews
The U.S. House of Representatives—a large, often unruly body of men and women elected every other year from 435 distinct microcosms of America—has achieved renown as “the people’s House,” the world’s most democratic institution, and an acute Rorschach of biennial public passions. In the midterm election year 2010,...more
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published April 24th 2012 by Free Press (first published January 1st 2012)
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Hadrian
This is a contemporary of the House of Representatives in the 112th Congress, with a particular focus on the Tea Party surge from 2010-2012, and the efforts over social entitlement reform, the debt ceiling crisis, and a partial government shutdown.

What a bunch of shits!

This is an agonizing detail of the negotiations and backroom deals which led to major policy decisions, and provides a few mini-biographies of a few of the main figures, from the Dean of the House, who's been there since 1955, to...more
Allison (The Book Wheel)
I first heard about this book after an interview with the author on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. I was intrigued by Stewart's comment about politicians being "real people" and decided that I should read the book. I must admit, it was really good. Given, it was good in a, "now I am frightened about the state of our country" way, but it was still good. The book mostly follows the Republican/Tea Party freshman that were voted into office during the 2010 midterm elections.

I enjoyed it because it...more
Damian
An inside view of the first year or so of the 112th House of Representatives, i.e. the 2010 Tea Party House. Written in admirably unbiased style, the book follows a handful of GOP House freshmen through the travails of 2010 and 2011, the euphoria of the landslide midterms, the Anthony Wiener scandal, through the debt-ceiling debate and up to the 2011 State of the Union. Those freshmen include Allan West, the ex-marine Tea Party rep from Florida (famous for saying crazy shit, most recently that m...more
Jonathan Mcnabb
Reading a book about events that you lived and directly worked through is a new experience for me. We have all had ties to some book that we have read, whether it was about a national cause or a field of study that we enjoy. But as I read Robert Draper’s Do Not Ask What Good We Do – a story of the Freshmen House Republicans’ first year in Washington – I could not help but think back to the last year of my life with fondness and frustration.

The book follows a number of interesting figures in the...more
Jay Connor
The title of this excellent book by Robert Draper is based on a quote from a Congressman who was so frustrated with the “days of fraction” that he was not seeking re-election after his fifth term in the 5th Congress of 1796! Yikes.

Draper does a masterful job of understanding and projecting the push and pulls of the new 112th Congress brought in 2010 by the Tea Party wave. We travel with many of the new congressmen on their journey of discovery, while also looking over the shoulders of the old g...more
Mlg
An insider's look at the last four years of Congressional inaction. It focuses more on the Tea Party freshmen House members than anyone else. Their refusal to compromise frustrates Boehner, as Cantor plots to take Boehner's place. Obama comes off as weak and naive, thinking he can compromise with the Republicans. He offers them deal after deal, irritating his own Democrats. If the Progressives have a hero it has to be Nancy Pelosi, who is the strongest advocate for the Democratic base. Yes, she...more
Judie
DO NOT ASK WHAT WE DO

The evening of January 20, 2009, 15 white males and their spouses met at an expensive restaurant in Washington DC. Seven of the men were Congressmen (Eric Cantor, Kevin McCarthy, Paul Ryan, Pete Sessions, Jeb Hensarling, Pete Hoekstra, and Dan Lungren); five were Senators (Jim DeMint, Jn Kyle, Tom Coburn, John Ensign, and Bob Corker); journalist Fred Barnes, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, and communications specialist Frank Luntz, who had organized the meeting, complet...more
Megan
Informative book about the 2010-2012 U.S. House of Representatives- read at the risk of getting angry.

"What made 2010 different was a rising tide of economic distress, coupled with the growing belief that the Democrats were only making things worse. Unlike many of the other Blue Dogs, Giffords had voted for the complete unholy trinity: stimulus, cap-and-trade, and health care. The latter vote set off an ugly conflagration of attacks- the very least of which were snarky ads featuring a Pelosi dou...more
Lynette
Wow. No matter how dysfunctional you think this Congress is, you will think it more so after reading this book. My thoughts upon completing it are to wonder how far our country will fall before Democrats and Republicans find a way to govern together. Do Not Ask What Good We Do is not biased in favor of either party, and, if anything, made me see those members whom I previously found odious as more human and, surprisingly, likable. Draper has written a fantastic book, great for gaining a better u...more
Karl Hafer, Jr.
The vignettes that Draper paint in his incredible book do so much to explain just how and why any body of elected officials can exist with approval ratings as low as 8% (John Dingell is quoted as saying "I think pedophiles would do better"). This book does not have an axe to grind yet offers the reader information that only a true insider could have gleaned.
Louis
Robert Draper’s Do Not Ask What Good We Do: Inside the U.S. House of Representatives attempts to determine how Congress, in particular the House of Representatives, has reached such a low point in both approval ratings and productivity. Draper attempts to look at not just the legislative record but also what has driven members of the House of Representatives to act the way they do.

There seem to be a myriad number of reasons why the House of Representatives is held in such low regard: the 2010 T...more
Alicia Brooks
Worth it for the John Dingell quotes alone, it's a great inside look at the new class of congressman and how their unwillingness to compromise leads to deadlock every time. It also illustrates the huge divide between the older class and the freshman who don't know or don't care how it used to be done.
Michael Barker
A great book for a political junkie like me. This is filled with "inside congress" stories about the the 2011 session of the House of Representatives.
Carolyn
An inside look at the utterly dysfunctional 112th Congress. History should not look kindly on this 'August' body

Great access. Good reporting
John
If you think the current state of affairs are messed up in American politics, you're right. Draper eviscerates the body politic and pierces the hot air balloons which make up the chambers of Congress. How did we get ourselves into this mess. Well, Draper follows new and old members and shows us why they got there, what they did, and how the game is played. Mutual respect is not part of the game plan, not any more, and bi-partisan problem solving losses out.

Draper deftly delineates the emergence...more
Amr
This book is more like a collection of stories about members of Congress than it is a coherent narrative that tells a specific story. It certainly tells stories about the same time period (112th United States Congress), and naturally the same events but it doesn't tell the same story or even one story. It's mostly, I think, what the author was able to find out about these congresspeople that he covered during that period of time.
Some of these congresspeople are Democrats and some are Republicans...more
Robert
I thought there were some interesting moments but I found Do Not Ask What Good We Do to be a mostly scattershot affair. I know the intent of the book was to look at the 112th Congress as a whole, but I thought the author bit off more than he could chew. I don’t mean that in the sense he seemed overwhelmed by the material, but rather since so many moving parts are mentioned, the narrative was not as compelling as it could have been.

There were so many committees, caucuses and congressman (and wome...more
Scott Sedar
I'm glad I read DO NOT ASK WHAT GOOD WE DO, mostly because it helped put the recent partisan bickering in context. The author takes a middle road, for the most part, as he examines recounts his year with the Congress. Out of a vast number of interviews, he focus on a handful of men and women, many who are new to the House of Representatives. Most have come to Washington with a grassroots desire for a balanced budget and reduced deficit -- determined to reduce the size and scope of the US governm...more
Bryan
What a great inside look at the current House. The book does an excellent job showing the frustrations of all our representatives. It is a particularly interesting class of representatives after the huge influx of tea party freshmen in 2010, and this book does a great job showing some of the details following that most recent election. For example, the book describes a private conference where an independent expert on government debt was explaining to some of the House freshmen the consequences...more
Joe
I was excited for this book as soon as I saw Robert Draper promoting it on MSNBC. Draper's background as a magazine writer shines multiple times as he reports on the unique characteristics of some of the 435 members of the House.

The point of this book is really just taking a look at the House of Representatives and the lack of productivity amongst it, mostly due to the Tea Party Caucus. Draper showcases that the sheer size of the freshman Republican class and the outspokenness of the Tea Party c...more
Savannah Williams
Do Not Ask What Good We Do follows the first year of 112th Congress after the elections of 2010, the elections that gave the Republicans control of the house and ushered in an impressive class of Tea Party Freshman. Robert Draper gives an unbiased account of that first year, from Weiner Gate to the debt limit fight. You're pretty much presented with all sides of the story, the behind the scenes look into Congress that you don't get to see on the T.V. with the many news conferences. You actually...more
Brian
I already had an extremely low opinion of the Tea Party, and this book managed to simultaneously humanize them for me while also making me dislike more than I had previously thought possible.

Despite that beginning, Do Not Ask What Good We Do isn't about the Tea Party, except in so far as the 2010 elections brought them to prominence and allowed many of their candidates to enter congress. It's not really a coherent story at all so much as a collection of individual tales of the various people who...more
Geoff Kabaservice
The United States House of Representatives is one of those institutions that forever seems to be going downhill. Representative Fisher Ames of Massachusetts, a member of the first Federal Congress, had praised the original House for having “less party spirit, less of the acrimony of pride when disappointed of success, less personality, less intrigue, cabal, management, or cunning than I ever saw in a public assembly.” By 1796, however, Ames despaired of the growing ideological conflict in the Ho...more
Kay
This is a nonfiction book with a clear focus. Though he does provide some context with anecdotes from further back American history, this book is really about the upstarts in the House of Representatives who have worked to dismantle the "size and scope of government." Allen West comes of favorably, even though I've only ever encountered his ramblings as those of a crazy person, and John Dingell comes across as an eccentric (but perhaps admirable) curmudgeon.

This book tracks a fringe movement of...more
Michael
http://philadelphiareviewofbooks.com/...

Allen West has no shortage of commentary on the foreign and economic policy of the President of the United States, and in recent weeks, he has busied himself with spouting his opinions on any issue of note to anyone listening. The congressman from Florida’s 22nd district, both a member of the Tea Party Caucus and the only current Republican member of the Congressional Black Caucus, a former combat officer in the Iraq War and civilian advisor to the Afghan...more
Christian
In this book, the author examines the state of the People's House and follows a number of members of the House of Representatives following the 2010 election. The addition to the House of a number of people who had never held office before, many of whom identified with the Tea Party movement, resulted in a definite shift in the atmosphere of the chamber and the tone of the debate. The author did a good job of describing the individual members as persons with complex motives and worldviews. Fresh...more
BooksAndTea
An excellent read about the 111th and 112th Congresses. The author takes a look at that particular session through the eyes of various players in House such as Allen West and John Dingell. Other well-known names appear such as Nancy Pelosi, John Boehner, etc. although not to such a great extent. The book also looks at particular events, such as town halls, voting on healthcare reform, the shooting of colleague and former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, etc. The book is not quite fully chronolo...more
Bryan
I burned out on reading books about contemporary politics after Game Change. That book, about the 2008 presidential primary campaigns, was deeply cynical and condescending, not to mention loaded with the sorts of politics-as-violence metaphors that make political journalists seem a little too proud of themselves.

Do Not Ask What Good We Do, though, is a hell of a good book about government and the current political climate. It follows a handful of congresspeople through a year in the House of Re...more
Bobbi
Draper does a good job of delivering an inside view of several personalities who came into the House of Reps. in the 2010 Tea Party coup. He offers enough inside detail to keep it interesting, but without editorializing.

This book helped me understand better where the Tea Party is coming from, and to see how they are driven by an uninformed or misinformed electorate that, for example, doesn't even understand the debt ceiling, but does want religion factored into government decisions.

It shows how...more
David Cooke
This is an interesting, personal look inside the House of Representatives. Because it is essentially a journal account in real time, there isn't a plot really driving the book forward, but I certainly felt a much better sense of how government (dys)functions. It certainly humanizes many individuals you would probably strongly disagree with, which really emphasizes that ultimately the House is 435 individual folks and not just faceless D's and R's beholden to party ideology. It's a little superfi...more
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Robert Draper (born November 15, 1959)[1] is a freelance writer, a correspondent for GQ and a contributor to The New York Times Magazine. Previously, he worked for Texas Monthly, where he first became acquainted with the Bush political family.
Robert Draper attended Westchester High School in Houston, Texas. He is the grandson of Leon Jaworski, prosecutor during the Watergate scandal, segregation t...more
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