Brown tells the story of eight of the Senators who sat at desk 88 in the U.S. Senate before him. Despite their flaws and frequent setbacks, each made a decisive contribution to the creation of a more just America.
... perhaps the most imaginative book to emerge from the Senate since Senator John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts produced Profiles in Courage ... This volume examines both the lives and passions of Brown’s seat predecessors but provides a peek, too, at the struggles earlier progressives undertook to redeem their creed ... These portraits are brisk brush strokes that bring light and color to all their subjects ... There are some enduring truths in these pages, none so great and powerful as the notion that two political figures sharing the same enemies share 'the strongest bond two politicians can have.'
... might be wrongly dismissed as a mere campaign polemic. In truth, Brown’s elegant portraits of his Desk 88 predecessors have marvelous historical value ... Brown’s engaging book tacks solely to the left, valorizing Democratic dragonslayers who took on Jim Crow, Joe McCarthy, the Vietnam War and other evils ... What makes Desk 88 particularly engaging are anecdotes illuminating the heroes’ convictions and character ... Brown’s book suffers somewhat from its narrow focus on the white male fraternity that sat at Desk 88 — which reflects the entire Senate for most of its history. The approach makes it impossible to recognize the progressive contributions of female senators and senators of color. It also means some names get elevated undeservedly ... The book’s narrative also tends to sag whenever Brown abandons his solid historical approach to call out more recent policy accomplishments that he had a hand in, such as working to pass the Affordable Care Act ... Brown’s efforts to insert himself into the historical narrative are sometimes obtrusive ... Despite these quibbles, it’s heartening to know that the Senate today has a history-minded member like Brown among its ranks ... the senator is a fine prose stylist.
... well-researched ... Brown discusses with sincerity and honesty ... In this refreshing and well-conceived work, Brown recounts political battles, tough choices, dirty tactics, key compromises, successes, and failures ... With a depth of political knowledge and understanding only participation in Congress can impart, Brown has created an uplifting set of senatorial profiles that counters the negativity of this time of political divisiveness, lies, corruption, hatred, and intimidation with factual accuracy, respect, admiration, and appreciation.