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Desk 88: Eight Progressive Senators Who Changed America

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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 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. Shribman, The Boston Globe Despite their flaws and frequent setbacks, each made a decisive contribution to the creation of a more just America. They range from Hugo Black, who helped to lift millions of American workers out of poverty, to Robert F. Kennedy, whose eyes were opened by an undernourished Mississippi child and who then spent the rest of his life afflicting the comfortable. Brown revives forgotten figures such as Idaho’s Glen Taylor, a singing cowboy who taught himself economics and stood up to segregationists, and offers new insights into George McGovern, who fought to feed the poor around the world even amid personal and political calamities. He also writes about Herbert Lehman of New York, Al Gore Sr. of Tennessee, Theodore Francis Green of Rhode Island, and William Proxmire of Wisconsin. Together, these eight portraits in political courage tell a story about the triumphs and failures of the Progressive idea over the past century: in the 1930s and 1960s, and more intermittently since, politicians and the public have successfully fought against entrenched special interests and advanced the cause of economic or racial fairness. Today, these advances are in peril as employers shed their responsibilities to employees and communities, and a U.S. president gives cover to bigotry. But the Progressive idea is not dead. Recalling his own career, Brown dramatizes the hard work and high ideals required to renew the social contract and create a new era in which Americans of all backgrounds can know the “Dignity of Work.”


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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 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. Shribman, The Boston Globe Despite their flaws and frequent setbacks, each made a decisive contribution to the creation of a more just America. They range from Hugo Black, who helped to lift millions of American workers out of poverty, to Robert F. Kennedy, whose eyes were opened by an undernourished Mississippi child and who then spent the rest of his life afflicting the comfortable. Brown revives forgotten figures such as Idaho’s Glen Taylor, a singing cowboy who taught himself economics and stood up to segregationists, and offers new insights into George McGovern, who fought to feed the poor around the world even amid personal and political calamities. He also writes about Herbert Lehman of New York, Al Gore Sr. of Tennessee, Theodore Francis Green of Rhode Island, and William Proxmire of Wisconsin. Together, these eight portraits in political courage tell a story about the triumphs and failures of the Progressive idea over the past century: in the 1930s and 1960s, and more intermittently since, politicians and the public have successfully fought against entrenched special interests and advanced the cause of economic or racial fairness. Today, these advances are in peril as employers shed their responsibilities to employees and communities, and a U.S. president gives cover to bigotry. But the Progressive idea is not dead. Recalling his own career, Brown dramatizes the hard work and high ideals required to renew the social contract and create a new era in which Americans of all backgrounds can know the “Dignity of Work.”

30 review for Desk 88: Eight Progressive Senators Who Changed America

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jean

    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 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. Apparently, business and the Republicans fought every child labor law sent to the Senate. I found the information on Senator Lehman interesting. I sort of had the feeling I was in the Senate and the desk was talking to me. The book was interesting and well worth the read. I read this as an audiobook downloaded from Audible. The book was twelve hours and forty-six minutes. Sherrod Brown and Leon Nixon do a good job narrating the book. Nixon is an actor and voice-over artist.

  2. 5 out of 5

    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.

  3. 4 out of 5

    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 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 and were able to each make positive change.

  4. 4 out of 5

    John Ryan

    Exceptional! 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.

  5. 4 out of 5

    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. 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. It's a walk through 20th-century (and early 21st-century) American history as seen through the life stories of men like George McGovern, Robert Kennedy, and Hugo Black. These aren't hagiographies and along with the achievements of these men, Brown covers their failings and failures too. Between each of the biographical chapters there are others titled "Thoughts from Desk 88." (The desk 88 is a reference to the one in the Senate that Brown sits at and which was also used by a number of other progressive senators.) Those chapters do fit into the more conventional political memoir model, and you'll have to have some tolerance for Brown selling himself and his achievements to get through them. It is worth it to do so, however, especially if you wonder where progressivism goes from here. Brown is committed to a progressivism that is not limited to blue bubbles and instead calls for one that is responsive to the concerns of working-class and rural Americans—a commitment also reflected in some of the choices of progressive senators he focuses on in this book.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Sam

    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.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Elinor

    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 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 of text the next progressive candidate must read if s/he hopes to win. Progressive Brown wins tough races in the US' electoral bellwether of Ohio. Any candidate hoping to win swing states should take notice and study up.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Lamadia

    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 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 with, and it will also make you incredibly angry at those thwarting progressive legislation. And if you are a progressive, you should immediately make time to read this book. I listened to the audio book, and while there is an excellent narrator for the biographical sections about the different senators, Brown narrates the sections in between that are his own thoughts from the desk. I get why they didn't have him narrate the whole thing, but I like listening to Brown's distinctive gravelly voice for the in between sections.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Andy Miller

    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 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 things done. The first Senator, Hugo Black, may be an exception to this rule. Brown does not flinch and does not excuse Black's early membership in the KKK, noting that Black was more than a member. But he details Black's legislative career especially as an effective champion for the New Deal, Black for an example was the Senator most responsible for breaking up the holding companies in the 30s. The next chapter was about Theodore Francis Green from Rhode Island, a senator I had not heard of before this book. Green was considered a traitor to his class, the wealthy patrician class of Rhode Island. Green was a leader in breaking the patrician political hold on Rhode Island but by the time he was elected to the Senate at age 65, much of his drive was gone, Brown focuses the senate portion of the chapter on Green's longevity and old age at the end of his career. Glen Taylor was a one term senator from Idaho. He may have been one of the most radical Senators ever to serve and Brown writes admiringly of his incorruptibly, his passion for the little guy, for his commitment to civil rights that was far ahead of his time. However, Brown notes Taylor's Don Quixote campaign as Henry Wallace's running mate in 1948 and his lack of legislative accomplishments. Herbert Lehman was FDR's successor as Governor of New York and Brown writes admiringly of Lehman's accomplishments in instituting the Little New Deal which often served as a laboratory for Roosevelt. Lehman was later elected to the Senate but did not have the same record of accomplishment given the southern dominated club atmosphere of the Senate. Brown also describes one of the saddest scenes in Senate history when Lehman called Joe McCarthy's bluff on the senate floor when McCarthy said he had the proof of his Communist theories on his desk by walking to McCarthy's desk and asking to see it. No one backed Lehman up, McCarthy snarled Get away from me you old man and Lehman walked sadly away. Brown's chapter on Al Gore sr starts with the newly elected Gore refusing Strom Thurmond's demand to sign the Southern Manifesto while the Senate and gallery watched on. While Gore's later record on civil rights did not always match that early courage, Gore did take many progressive and principled stands, especially his votes against Nixon's Supreme Court's appointment's right before he lost his last election. But Brown does note that Gore's loss also was due to his not keeping in contact with his home state and lack of legislative accomplishment. Brown titles his chapter on William Proxmire as "A Work Horse and a Show Horse" which reflects Proxmire's hard work as a senator while not being shy about getting publicity for it. Brown also notes that Proxmire's offbeat personality and focus on publicity took away from his effectiveness in getting things done for both his state and his progressive ideals. Brown admires Bobby Kennedy. He writes glowingly of Kennedy's transformation after his brother's assassination into a fighter for the underdog, his going into stuffy crowds and telling them what they didn't want to hear while listening to genuine empathy to hungry children, dispossessed ghetto residents, struggling farmworkers. But Brown notes that Kennedy's greatness was not as a Senator, but as a political leader, a leadership cut too short by his own assassination. The final chapter was on George McGovern. Again, Brown clearly admires McGovern's character, his early political success against all odds and of course his principled Presidential campaign. But again, McGovern was not a particularly effective Senator, save for his corroboration with Bob Dole against hunger, though it was work after his Senate where he got the most results against hunger, and part of the reason for his 1980 defeat was his loss of interest in the Senate in his last years there. As mentioned earlier, the chapters on the eight senators are interspersed with chapters on Brown's thoughts. Those chapters show Brown's passion for being a Senator but more important, his passion for being a Senator because it is a vehicle for progressive change; to help the underdog, the union member, the uninsured, the victim of discrimination. Brown's hard work does not always pay off, he writes with frustration about his failure to obtain a public option in Obamacare with thinly disguised irritation at Joe Lieberman's unprincipled roadblock and Max Baucus's accommodation of Republican demands which served only to delay and build political opposition. But left unsaid, but still clear to the reader, is that Sherrod Brown loves being in the arena, fighting for the right things

  10. 5 out of 5

    Bookreporter.com 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 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-elected twice, which is no easy task, given the state’s conservative electorate and his unabashed progressive leanings. As the 2020 presidential campaign began, many progressives hoped he would run for president, but for now he has chosen to remain in the Senate. DESK 88 is part autobiography and part historical account of the Senate through the story of the men who occupied the desk that Brown now occupies on the floor of the Senate. Upon his arrival in the Senate, he was given the responsibility of selecting a desk for the Senate floor. The traditions of the Senate run deep, and one of them is that most senators at some point carve their names in the drawers of their desks on the Senate floor. Brown’s search led him to Desk 88, previously occupied by Hugo Black of Alabama, George McGovern of South Dakota, Robert Kennedy of New York, William Proxmire of Wisconsin, and several other progressive senators. Brown had found his Senate home. Anyone who has seen or heard Brown speak on issues important to him will appreciate the organization and writing of DESK 88. Just like its author, the book is well-organized and passionate. He alternates chapters on his predecessors with his own career and political views on important contemporary issues. Recounting the fascinating history of former U.S. senators serves as a reminder that although we are at a complex, perilous moment in our nation’s history, we have been here before. The biographical portraits also shed light on the continuing evolution of life in American politics. Hugo Black was a progressive senator from Alabama, yet he was also a member of the Ku Klux Klan. His membership became public as he was nominated and confirmed to serve on the United States Supreme Court. In contemporary America, it is doubtful that Black would have been confirmed. Nor would men like Glen Taylor or George McGovern ever have been elected to the Senate, as they ran shoestring campaigns without any significant campaign donations. Before the days of television, social media and candidate imaging, candidates could make their appeal to the public in a far different manner than we see in America today. In the personal portion of DESK 88, Brown makes the case that the progressive idea is not dead. You may not agree with him, but embracing his politics is not a requirement for appreciating the deep and endearing history of the progressive era in America. There was a time in our country when political disagreement could still find politicians seeking common ground for the public good. Brown reminds us of those bygone days, which hopefully will return to America’s political stage. Reviewed by Stuart Shiffman

  11. 5 out of 5

    Mindy

    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. 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. This book is about the stories behind eight of those signatures. For every story, he adds his own thoughts about the long-term legacy of those senators and a connection to the current political climate.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Ted Hunt

    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 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 not to compete for the 2020 Democratic nomination. And like Kennedy did with his book, Brown goes about outlining his beliefs and ideals by telling the stories of eight senators who once sat at his current desk (#88) in the Senate chambers. Rather than the thread binding the men together being "courage," it is "progressivism." It has become a Senate tradition to inscribe one's name inside the drawer of his/her desk, so Brown takes eight of the names from his desk drawer and tells the stories of eight of the "progressive" senators who once occupied his seat. Some of the eight are very well known names- Hugo Black, Robert Kennedy, George McGovern- while a couple are pretty obscure- Theodore Francis Green and Glen Taylor. There were some interesting "nuggets" that I encountered for the first time, like Black's efforts on behalf of labor legislation during the New Deal and the story of Taylor (who was from Idaho) getting arrested by Bull Connor in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1948 (fifteen years before M.L. King was arrested there) for breaking a city ordinance by speaking publicly to a mixed-race audience. But at times the book seems a bit contrived, as the author works to squeeze its subjects into the "progressive" camp by downplaying things like Hugo Black's early membership in the KKK and William Proxmire's knee-jerk opposition to virtually any federal spending on scientific research. He is on stronger ground when he points to George McGovern as being basically the "father" of the federal food stamp program. In typical fashion, McGovern never did a lot of self-promotion (and never made peace with his 49 state defeat to Tricky Dicky in the 1972 election). Brown tells the story of McGovern watching two women in a South Dakota grocery store paying for their groceries with food stamps and proclaiming that they wouldn't vote for McGovern in the next election because he supported too many "give away" programs. While the narratives about the senators are quite interesting, this book is very, very political. Brown not only takes the time at the end of every chapter to outline his own ideas and the programs that he has fought for, but he never passes up an opportunity to criticize, in often very stark terms, the opposition party. And because of that, I don't see this book having a very long "shelf life," unless Senator Brown somehow winds up in the White House.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Olivia

    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 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 reactions and sections on comparing and contrasting his own experiences to theirs are the bulk of the book, it will hardly cause the reader to grow bored. Each progressive (like Brown himself) shows that although no one is perfect (we all make sensational and regrettable choices in our lives) you should never let them hinder you from moving forward for yourself and those around you. It is the only direction we should strive to grow together. While I am a rookie to the depths of politics and their history, I did not retreat from the material since it only reinforced my own views of being an ally and advocate for my fellow man/woman kind. I enjoyed and felt my morale bubble over when introduced to new views, and when given a new perspective on topics already dear to my heart. Whether it was savoring the words from parts of Robert F. Kennedy's speech that took place at the University of Capetown (241), Brown's example of Gallaudet University as an act of progressivism (187), or his view of how great victories grow from the collection of small victories (277) the book never felt dull and dry. I am grateful to Beth, my boyfriend's mother, who gave me this book as a Christmas gift last year. It was truly thoughtful, and beyond that has caused me to further my own thoughtfulness in my present and in my future. I look forward to passing this book along to others, and to reading more by Brown and his wife, Connie Shultz, who is a profound wordsmith and ally too.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Howard

    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 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 8 hour work day, the 40 hour work week, child labor laws, Medicare, Medicaid, Civil Rights laws, Voting Rights, Union rights, food stamps, and other social safety net programs that we now take for granted but were fought and obstructed vigorously and viciously by Republicans and their wealthy supporters, particularly in poor Southern states. And the battles are still going on today. Brown is unapologetic as he stands with working people, supporting the dignity of work and the dignity to life for those who have either been treated unfairly or may have had some bad luck. It is an enlightening book, very partisan, but with righteousness and humility.

  15. 5 out of 5

    David Miraldi

    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 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. Interspersed between each biography, Brown provides his own take on the senator and updates the reader about current progressive fights that have correlate to that senator's story. For those of a progressive mindset, it is an excellent reminder of why we seek change. It is also reinforces that for every progressive fight, its opponents claimed that the American way of life would be doomed by the change. As Brown tells us, the world did not end with each progressive victory and it won't for those changes that will make a more just society in our future.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Susanna Natti

    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 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 daily lives. I found reading about the historical cycles of progressive movement forward was enlightening, and a balm for our troubled times. I also came to admire greatly not only what an impassioned defense, vision and hard work can do to improve equity and justice for all, and my faith in the capacity of government to be an overall force for good was shored up. I definitely recommend this.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Phil

    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 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 followed by Brown’s “Thoughts from Desk 88,” in which he offers a stout defense of such progressive policies. If you are interested in political biography and the history of legislation and the Senate, this is a great read.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Robert Stevens

    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 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. Over the years, landmark legislation, especially social welfare reforms like Medicare and Social Security, often falls immediately short of expectation. But as the years go by, subsequent congresses and presidents improve them.” (277)

  19. 5 out of 5

    Donna

    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 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 even more interesting. I have great admiration for politicians who have worked-- and those who continue to work--so hard for our country!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Brooke Stoddard

    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 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. The book serves as a reminder of what his forebears faced, and faced down, and then as a reasoned and deeply felt thesis of his own hopes to improve the lives of the citizens he works to serve.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Andrea

    I didn't finish this because it was due back at the library. I enjoyed the clear-cut prose and the perspective it gave me about progressive changes in America. I especially found it valuable that Brown makes it clear that the history of the progressive movement happens in short periods of fast, vital change, followed by decades of defending that change and not moving forward. I guess it gives me hope that progressive change can still happen. So thanks, Senator Brown!! I am proud that you represe I didn't finish this because it was due back at the library. I enjoyed the clear-cut prose and the perspective it gave me about progressive changes in America. I especially found it valuable that Brown makes it clear that the history of the progressive movement happens in short periods of fast, vital change, followed by decades of defending that change and not moving forward. I guess it gives me hope that progressive change can still happen. So thanks, Senator Brown!! I am proud that you represent me.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Betsy Rose

    Whenever anyone has something to say or a question to ask about Sherrod Brown, my go-to story, and the only one I need to describe him, is of the first time we met. In the parking lot of a union hall. Where he was meeting my father and I to attend a muskrat dinner. One of the last times I saw him, at a UAW picnic in the smallest town I ever remember visiting, he brought Connie and Franklin along. They've always been my kind of people. I'm glad he sees the company he keeps and the bigger picture of Whenever anyone has something to say or a question to ask about Sherrod Brown, my go-to story, and the only one I need to describe him, is of the first time we met. In the parking lot of a union hall. Where he was meeting my father and I to attend a muskrat dinner. One of the last times I saw him, at a UAW picnic in the smallest town I ever remember visiting, he brought Connie and Franklin along. They've always been my kind of people. I'm glad he sees the company he keeps and the bigger picture of which he is a part.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Karen

    Desk 88 is the desk the author, Sherrod Brown, sits at in the US Senate. Apparently there is a tradition of Senators writing their signature in the desk they used while being a Senate member. Sen. Brown has taken eight of the Senators who have signatures in his desk and were Progressives and has written about them. This book is highly readable and I learned quite a bit about these Senators and what they stood for. There is a bibliography included. I recommend this book especially if one likes hi Desk 88 is the desk the author, Sherrod Brown, sits at in the US Senate. Apparently there is a tradition of Senators writing their signature in the desk they used while being a Senate member. Sen. Brown has taken eight of the Senators who have signatures in his desk and were Progressives and has written about them. This book is highly readable and I learned quite a bit about these Senators and what they stood for. There is a bibliography included. I recommend this book especially if one likes historical biography.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Dorothy

    Sherrod Brown’s desk in the United States Senate chamber becomes a time machine offering the reader a unique vantage point into other tumultuous socio-political moments in American history. I was reminded of the ebb and flow of progress, and that each of the senators profiled in Desk 88 had to weather storms the likes of which I see about us now. Each endured, however, pushing for policies that served the marginalized, hungry, and disenfranchised, and thus allowing for a more just and compassion Sherrod Brown’s desk in the United States Senate chamber becomes a time machine offering the reader a unique vantage point into other tumultuous socio-political moments in American history. I was reminded of the ebb and flow of progress, and that each of the senators profiled in Desk 88 had to weather storms the likes of which I see about us now. Each endured, however, pushing for policies that served the marginalized, hungry, and disenfranchised, and thus allowing for a more just and compassionate America. Thank you for reminding me of the best our country can be, Senator Brown.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Hasan

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This was a really fun book for anybody interested in progressive senators of years past. Sherrod Brown writes a brief primer about eight senators who have signed his Senate desk and then offers his analysis on their legacy. It's a neat book and audiobook project. I wasn't familiar with the legacies of many of the senators that are the subject of this book. It's not too long and a good way to learn about their progressive legacies.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Joe Metz

    Senator Brown has written a book that is important for these times. He stands solidly with a tradition, shared with various senators who sat at the Senate desk he now occupies, that recognizes that government is capable of being a force for good, for progress, for helping people. It's heartbreaking at times to read this as too much of the zeitgeist is to say and believe otherwise. I'm grateful that he has written this book to remind folks of the progress our forebearers brought forward.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Eric Scharf

    I do wish Senator Brown had chosen to run for President and his recent book only further confirms my admiration for his work. He profile eight previous Senators who have sat at the desk that he sits at now in the Senate, such men (sorry only men) as Hugo Black, Al Gore Sr, Robert Kennedy and George McGovern. He helps to provide some perspective to the challenging times we live in now with how other forward looking politicians dealt with the difficulties of their generation.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Hillsullivan

    The book had several senators and ended with McGovern. I wonder if Gore Jr had signed the desk if he would have been included, or not since he is still alive. While I heard of must of these senators it was an interesting read and for the most parts stories were told. The one on Bobby Kennedy was not what I thought it would be. I cannot imagine how Sherrod had time to write this book with his busy job,

  29. 4 out of 5

    Ali Mahdi

    Phenomenal book, which i read on vacation. Broken up into standalone chapters which makes it a great book to read while busy. In itself, it gives great 20 page summaries of various people’s lives and Senator Brown’s own synopsis of issues, in addition to a great reflection of his own beliefs. I highly recommend it for people with even a little interest in American politics.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca Birch

    We!I researched and reassuring Well researched biographical sketches of famous and purpose oriented progressive senators who have occupied seat 88. They have battled for the working class and financially hurting instead of the big honchos. Not always popular but politicallyvery significant

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