4 J. Legis. 179 (1977)
Recent Books about Legislation and Public Policy

handle is hein.journals/jleg4 and id is 177 raw text is: RECENT BOOKS ABOUT
Congress and the States
By William J. Keefe and Morris S. Ogul
Fourth Edition
Prentice-Hall, Inc., Englewood Cliffs, N.J., 1977. Pp. 497. $12.95.
For anyone seeking a comprehensive grasp of the legislative process in the
United States today, this book is valuable. Written from a political science per-
spective, the authors analyze law-making in terms of structure, function and,
in particular, the relationship with, and interaction between, legislatures and
political parties, interest groups, bureaucracies, judiciaries and executive branches.
Since the authors do not limit their inquiry to the federal level, a dimen-
sion not often found in most books dealing with the legislative process is added.
Professors Keefe and Ogul, who teach at the University of Pittsburgh,
frequently trace facets of the present American legislative process back to England
and the British Parliament. These historical explanations are more than mere
asides; they help broaden the reader's insight into the current American legis-
lative process.
In terms of the authors' philosophy about American legislatures, they
agree with Robert A. Dahl's view that, in preserving the present system, the
people retain a relatively efficient system for reinforcing agreement, encouraging
moderation, and maintaining social peace in a restless and immoderate people
operating a gigantic, powerful, diversified and incredibly complex society.
As the principal alternative to this, the authors say, the American people could
choose to reinvigorate the party system to institutionalize majority rule. This
would integrate legislative and executive purposes and consolidate power now
diffused. This alternative promises a government with the capacity to act steadily
and responsibly, one better able to meet unremitting crisis.
The authors conclude, however, that change to this extent would be un-
likely, given the public's lack of interest in the legislative system, its instinct for
preservation of established institutions, its aversion to the claims of party, and the
inability of majorities to assert themselves in the election process. Thus, change in
American legislatures will be incremental, resulting from measured responses to
specific points of pressure exerted on the legislatures by the groups which inter-
act with them.
The necessity for lawyers, legislators and students of government to
comprehend this dynamic process is apparent. We all have parts, however small,
in what Woodrow Wilson called the dance of legislation. Keefe and Ogul have
provided us with an excellent means to move toward this understanding.

- Chadwick C. Busk

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