I received this book via Goodreads First Reads in exchange for an honest review.
The story behind the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is a fascinating read of both history and politics. Todd S. Purdum writes a comprehensive account of the forces, both social and political, leading up to the writing of the bill and legislative battle to enact it. Within the account are men and women, whites and blacks, elected officials and lobbyists, proponents and opponents, and most importantly both Democrats and Republicans.
The book is divided into three sections: The Administration, The House, and The Senate. Purdum recounts how first the Kennedy administration and later Johnson used the influence of the White House to introduce then campaign for the bill to the American people, while others within the executive branch began the process of working with both houses of Congress. When the focus shifts to Capitol Hill, Purdum introduces the major political figures that helped shape, defend, and oppose passage of the bill along with numerous aides and lobbyists who worked behind the scenes to get things accomplished. While Johnson is given credit for pushing through the Civil Rights Act, Purdum shows that the real work was done by an unsung bipartisan group of leaders with both houses who fought for their convictions.
“An Idea Whose Time Has Come” is an in-depth, engaging account of how Jim Crow was pushed aside to create the United States of the 21st Century. Purdum does not let the contributions of anyone be missed and lets the reader know how important the individual was in the early 60s. I enthusiastically recommend this book to any student of history and politics.