A Conversation With 'The Last Great Senate' Author Ira Shapiro

Jul 4, 2014

Ask just about anyone their opinion about politics and the federal government and two words you are likely to hear in response are: dysfunction and gridlock.    

But Ira Shapiro, knows firsthand of an era not all that long ago when big personalities in the U.S. Senate worked together to solve big problems.

His book, The Last Great Senate: Courage and Statesmanship in Times of Crisis, details the final years of what he sees as a golden age of statesmanship, when the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 were passed, the Vietnam War was challenged, and Richard Nixon was held accountable for Watergate.

A top Democratic Senate staff member during the last years of this era, Shapiro delves into the making of the Senate’s leading figures, including Idaho’s Frank Church.

He also writes about the lawmaking and policy discussions that were emblematic of the Carter Administration to demonstrate how this once amicable and collaborative legislative body worked across the aisle to find solutions.

Shapiro has held a wide range of senior staff positions in the U.S. Senate. He played a key role in negotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement, and served as General Counsel and Ambassador in the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative during the Clinton administration. 

Since 2003, Shapiro has been practicing international trade law.

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