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Desk 88: Eight Progressive Senators Who Changed America

4.25  ·  Rating details ·  470 ratings  ·  82 reviews
Since his election to the U.S. Senate in 2006, Ohio’s Sherrod Brown has sat on the Senate floor at a mahogany desk with a proud history. In Desk 88, he tells the story of eight of the Senators who were there before him.

"Perhaps the most imaginative book to emerge from the Senate since Senator John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts produced Profiles in Courage." —David M. Shribm
ebook, 368 pages
Published November 5th 2019 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
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Harry Gardner This text doesn't seem to deal with Nazis at all, the 88 refers to a number of a specific desk in the Senate that all of the progressive senators he p…moreThis text doesn't seem to deal with Nazis at all, the 88 refers to a number of a specific desk in the Senate that all of the progressive senators he portrays uses.(less)

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Start your review of Desk 88: Eight Progressive Senators Who Changed America
Sherrod Brown is the democratic senior senator from Ohio. He sits at desk number 88 in the Senate. He tells about the senators who have had the seat before him, such as: Senator Hugo Black; he had the desk from 1927 to 1937. Some of the other Senators that sat at this desk were George McGovern, Al Gore, Robert F. Kennedy and Theodore Green. Brown tells about each of the eight men and he works in information about himself. I was surprised at how many decades it took to stop child labor. Apparentl ...more
Donald Powell
This book is a penultimate text on progressive politics, its importance, principles and legacy. Senator Brown is an accurate historian, concise writer and a man of true humane vision. While this history is a mere slice of the pie of the influence of progressive thought, it is a balanced, true and thoughtful explanation of how and why government is critical to humanity, serving as its major impediment when the rich and powerful control it.
Cristie Underwood
I love that Senator Brown wrote this book detailing how the previous Senators to sit at Desk 88 impacted history with their service. Each one had setbacks, but was still able to contribute to the better of America. This book is one that needs to be read, as it emphasizes the contributions made by Senators in the past and how working together with others can truly impact the future of our Country. We live in divided times and this book shows how Senators with different values held the same seat a ...more
John Ryan
Nov 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Rich history of those who are elected to help working people rather than the rich. Interesting stories of people who made America a better place to work and live. It’s just the honest, well written story we need with today’s sad political state. Even people who don’t like politics will like this book, perhaps even more so.
John Newton
In general I'm not a big fan of memoirs by living politicians (at least the ones by Americans that I have read). They seem to follow a common formula in which the author turns the details of their into some quintessential American story and then recounts their political successes along with anecdotes of their struggles fighting the good fight (however that is defined).

This book by Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio follows another model, however, with short biographies of eight progressive senators.
Dec 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Sherrod Brown is a better Senator than he is a writer, but that speaks to what a great Senator he is. What I learned most from reading the stories of eight Senators who sat at Desk 88 was that compromise is part of the job. You need to look at the entirety of a person's life, rather than looking for a flaw and claiming that it discredits all the good things he or she fought for.

Now it would be nice if a woman (or a minority) were to get to sit at Desk 88.
Feb 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
As a matter of routine, I don't read memoir, biography, or autobiography. I also don't find political histories of old white men all that compelling. However, Sherrod Brown tells an interesting, quirky, and unusual history of progressivism using his Senate desk as a touchstone, making the case for a new progressive era. He does so deftly, having researched his material for over a decade. This is not the kind of text one writes prior to launching a campaign for president; however, it IS the kind ...more
I did not expect to like this book this much. I've only lived in Ohio for five years, but I have gotten to vote for Sherrod Brown once. I learned so much about these eight ex-senators and the progressive movement throughout the twentieth century. I pay attention to politics and consider myself an informed liberal, but there was so much I didn't know and should have. While I had voted for Brown, I only now consider myself a fan! You will only like this if you like progressive politics to begin wi ...more
Andy Miller
Jun 15, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sherrod Brown is known for his progressive politics and for his hard work in getting results. So there are interesting contrasts given the way he wrote Desk 88, alternating chapters of eight different progressive senators who also sat at Desk 88 with chapters titled "Thoughts from Desk 88" which tell of Brown's beliefs and legislative battles. Because many of the progressive senators described in the book were not particularly effective Senators while Brown's chapters show a passion for getting ...more Biography & Memoir
It has been almost two decades since Robert Caro published volume three of his biography of Lyndon Johnson, MASTER OF THE SENATE, which covered the years from 1949 to 1960 when Johnson served in the United States Senate. The book was a revelation about the history and workings of the Senate and how Johnson mastered the organization as no politician before him. When it released in 2002, Sherrod Brown represented Ohio in Congress. In 2006, he would win election to the Senate. He has been re-electe ...more
Susanna Natti
Jan 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I got a greater understanding of what progressive politics is about in reading Sherrod Brown's book about some of the occupants of his desk in the Senate, Desk 88. Some of the senators he chooses to profile are ones well known to most, and some not so familiar at all. All of them are imperfect, and Sherrod doesn't shrink from pointing out failings, but he also makes the compelling case that the overall impact of what these men did (no women at this desk, yet....) has had immense impact on our da ...more
Feb 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book was a truly enjoyable read for me. It definitely had a liberal agenda, which you need to understand going into the book, but it works for me. If you are more conservative in your political beliefs, you may not enjoy this book. I absolutely loved the premise. As Sherrod Brown heads into the Senate, he remembers he had heard that senators sign their desks at some point of their term. As he is choosing his seat, he looks in the desks and finds at Desk 88, several names that he recognizes. ...more
Dec 08, 2019 rated it liked it
The book was interesting, but my rating is affected by the fact that I wish Brown was a better raconteur. One thing is clear, the author not only respects his predecessors at Desk 88, but also his position and his constituents.
Ted Hunt
Jan 04, 2020 rated it liked it
Ever since John F. Kennedy used his book "Profiles in Courage" as part of his springboard to the presidency in 1960, White House aspirants have written books to outline their political philosophies. From Barry Goldwater ("Conscience of a Conservative") to Bill Bradley to Barak Obama to, well just about every candidate for the 2020 Democratic nomination, the "campaign book" has become almost a requirement. That is what "Desk 88" is all about as well, even though, in the end, Sherrod Brown decided ...more
Mar 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
To all fellow and future canaries in the name of progressivism, Sherrod Brown's "Desk 88: Eight Progressive Senators Who Changed America" is the book for you. If you too have never steered from protecting the rights of those around you, even when the hills you must climb seem never ending, then you will find a kindred spirit in Brown and his allies whether you are from the Buckeye State or not.

Although Brown's chronicles of the eight progressives that sat at Desk 88 before him, and his reaction
Jen Jaketic
Apr 18, 2021 rated it really liked it
My senator, Sherrod Brown, gives an insightful and informative look at 8 senators who previously sat at the desk he currently sits at in the US Senate. He gives a chapter to each, and then provides an additional section after each chapter, giving modern examples of how that Senator's previous work helps Sen. Brown today (or how the struggles the one faced in the Senate are still very much alive now). Brown calls all 8 of the Senators "progressive," which I as a progressive take some umbrage with ...more
Dominique King
Brown uses an interesting way to talk about his time in the Senate, and the history of the Senate, by tracing the history of the desk he occupies there! The book reminds me a little bit of a story like "The Red Violin" (a movie that traced the history of an inanimate object, and it's passage through history).
The other occupants of Brown's desk throughout the years represented a group of Senators, some relatively unknown to modern history, and a few folks with a more well-known names.
The desk's o
Feb 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
A good book that enumerates and describes many Progressive political and social accomplishments in the 20th century. It is told through the lives and deeds of eight US senators who all happened to sit at the sane desk, 88, during their careers. It tells about their lives; their paths to election, and the difficult choices many had to make to stand up for Working People and against a powerful conservative establishment.
These Progressive figures helped enable policies such as Social Security, the
Keith Pruitt
Jul 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I am a fan of first hand history. When I first heard about Desk 88, my interest was peeked when I learned that Senator Sherrod Brown is sitting at the same desk in which sat Senator Hugo Black, Al Gore, Jr., Robert Kennedy and George McGovern among others. Notable in their lineage is the progressivism that each of those men fostered in America. You had men that championed workers' rights, health care, civil rights, voting rights and one who helped become a voice for the voiceless. Another helped ...more
David Miraldi
May 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book serves as a thoughtful manifesto for progressive thought. Sherrod Brown brings to life eight progressive senators who shared Desk 88, some well-known while others obscure. Their lives are interesting, often highlighting how their views changed over time, but each senator ultimately championing some cause for the common person: minimum wage, collective bargaining, desegregation, civil liberties, social security, Medicare, universal health coverage, food for the poor, and many others. In ...more
Sep 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
A trip through American legislative history on the backs of the Senators who have stood in the US Senate at Desk 88. By turns light & to the point and then exhaustively infuriating, but always with a sense of its own historical gravitas and heavy on information, this book would make an excellent "gateway" book for someone ignorant of cycles in American politics or the origins of what drives us as people. Brown never glosses over someone's former Klan membership, personal health foibles, or times ...more
Jan 01, 2021 rated it really liked it
I thought this was an interesting twist on the typical political memoir. The book is part history/part current political affairs/part Brown memoir. Enjoyable read.

Quote from one of the Desk 88 Thoughts section that seems especially pertinent today in talking about health holistically:
“Public health, we have learned, is about clean water and sanitation, about vaccines and a safe blood supply, about well-baby care and access to modern contraception, about iodine sufficiency and insecticide-treate
Apr 28, 2021 rated it liked it
2.5 stars. I wanted to like this more, but it was just too dry and hard to follow. It lacks a cohesive narrative structure, so it constantly jumps around between different time periods, different legislative priorities, and asides about individuals who aren't the main focus of that section. The author clearly has a vast knowledge of political history, and there were some interesting bits in there - most notably, the overarching idea that the methods conservatives use to push back on progressive ...more
Jul 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
A positive and inspirational book by Sherrod Brown, the engaging, and definitely progressive Senator from Ohio.

He writes about eight progressive senators who shared Desk 88 in the senate; a few well-known while others maybe not much heard of. Their paths to the Senate are interesting, often emphasizing how each senator eventually came to champion some progressive cause.

It is a rewarding collection of historical actions taken by those who were elected to help working people, rather than the top
Derrick De Vera
Nov 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
One of my favorite political books of all time—diving into 8 progressive U.S. Senators that all sat at the same desk from vastly different time periods. From Bobby Kennedy to George McGovern and lesser known leaders like T.F. Green and Glen Taylor. All tied together in standing up to powerful interests, protecting the rights of others, and preserving the dignity of work.

Admire Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio a great deal and this read so effortlessly. Well stitched accounts and powerful reflectio
Dec 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
The tradition of Senators carving their names into their desks gave rise to history of eight from Desk 88. Chronologically, Brown begins with Hugo Black, a former member of the Ku Klux Klan who joined Congress in 1927 and became one of the most ardent supporters of FDR’s New Deal. He goes on to (most famously) Bill Proxmire, Al Gore Sr., Bobby Kennedy, and George McGovern. Brown is careful not to idealize his subjects, but does look for the transformative moment for each. Each profile is followe ...more
Robert Stevens
Mar 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Being a progressive and originally from Ohio, I had to read this book by Senator Sherrod Brown. I enjoyed the setup of the book as it explored the selected eight senators with THOUGHTS FROM DESK 88 following each chapter. I learned quite a bit.

This book is a nice summary of the progressive movement and how it is not always easy, but progress does still happen, even if slowly.

“History tells us that even the greatest victories do not come all at once, that small victories can lead to larger ones
Jan 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book! I was already a huge fan of Sherrod Brown, which is what prompted me to read it in the first place. But Senator Brown is really a narrator here, telling the reader about 8 progressives who occupied desk 88, his current desk. It is both inspiring and frustrating to see how slowly, and with what battles, our country creeps forward. Tiny steps ahead and, too often, huge steps back. I enjoyed learning more about senators I was already familiar with but found the lesser-known ones ...more
Brooke Stoddard
Mar 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
David McCullough once remarked that many books have been written about American presidents but too few about where an equal amount of action has lain: the U. S. Congress. Here is a clever device for looking at a portion of the history of the U. S. legislature. It is a ramble through the aims – and a number of accomplishments – of progressive U. S. senators, backed by commentary by Senator Brown on current issues that complement ones promoted by the men who preceded Brown to his Senate Desk 88. T ...more
Parker Schwartz
Jul 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
Senator Brown examines the careers, and lives, of some of the country's most boldly progressive federal legislators. Not only does he shed light on the importance of their careers, but he also contextualizes their impact within their respected years of service. It is empowering to hear about how these politicians stood by their values despite pushback within their own parties or the prospect of having their political careers end for going "against the grain." There is no doubt that Senator Brown ...more
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