The Firsts: The Inside Story of the Women Reshaping Congress

Algonquin. Mar. 2020. 272p. ISBN 9781616209995. $27.95. POL SCI
Thirty-five new congresswomen were sworn in when the 116th Congress convened in January 2019. It resulted in a record number of women in Congress: 106 in the House of Representatives and 25 in the Senate. Even more historic is the number of “Firsts” included in the new members of Congress: the first two Muslim women; the first two Native women; the first African American or Latinx women from their state or district, or combinations of these distinctions. Steinhauer interviewed these women about their reasons for running for office and the goals they hope to accomplish, observing them at town halls and noting their alliances with other freshmen and veteran congressmen and senators. The book is filled with reports on how, as candidates, the women campaigned and met with potential voters in order to raise awareness of political issues. Steinhauer also covers higher-profile women, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, and Ayanna Pressley, and their relationship to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
VERDICT Steinhauer provides an in-depth look at the women who historically changed the face and composition of Congress. Readers interested in women in politics and government will enjoy the book and appreciate the author’s thorough research.
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