Cover image for A season of renewal : the Columbian Exposition and Victorian America
A season of renewal : the Columbian Exposition and Victorian America
Downey, Dennis B., 1952-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Westport, Conn. : Praeger, 2002.
Physical Description:
xxi, 216 pages, 21 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 24 cm
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E169.1 .D695 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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In order to be effective, federal ethics law must address sources of systematic corruption rather than simply address motives that individual government employees might have to betray the public trust (such as personal financial holdings or family relationships). Getting the Government America Deserves articulates a general approach to combating systemic corruption as well as some specific proposals for doing so. Federal ethics law is relatively unknown in legal academia and elsewhere outside of Washington, D.C., but it is binding on over one million federal employees. Lobbyists, federal contractors, lawyers and others who interact with the federal government are also deeply interested in federal ethics law and represent a surprisingly large market for a little-studied area of the law.

Getting the Government America Deserves analyzes government ethics law from the perspective of an academic critic and that of a lawyer who was the chief White House ethics lawyer for two and a half years. Richard Painter argues that the existing ethics regime is in need of substantial reform since federal ethics laws fail to curtail conduct that undermines the integrity of government, such as political activity by federal employees and their interaction with lobbyists and interest groups. He also contends that in some other areas, such as personal financial conflicts of interest, there is too much complexity in regulatory and reporting requirements, and rules need to be simplified. Painter's solution includes strengthening the enforcement of ethics rules, reforming the lobbying industry, and changing a system of campaign finance that impedes meaningful government ethics reform.

Author Notes

DENNIS B. DOWNEY is Professor of History at Millersville University. The author of two books and more than two dozen articles, Downey is a specialist in American social and cultural history in the period 1870-1930.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

The World's Columbian Exposition of 1893, aka the Chicago World's Fair, is one of those "meaningful symbols" that scholars have read closely as a text. Its significance for many historians is the way it represented America's Gilded Age. Downey (Millersville Univ.) does not reduce the fair to the hegemonic conspiracy of elites that Robert Rydell saw (All the World's a Fair; CH, Oct'85); does not fully subscribe to the corporate rhetoric that Alan Trachtenberg forcefully argued was at the core of the fair (The Incorporation of America; CH, Jul'82); and while recognizing class as a crucial social factor, goes beyond the argument made by Burton Benedict for the fair's importance to rising middle-class consumerism (The Anthropology of World's Fairs; CH, Apr'84). Downey applies his interpretations in several cohesive chapters on aspects of the fair: the story of the fair's design and planning, the experience of touring the fair, performances of technology at the fair, the role of women, and social reform and religious rhetoric. Adding dramatic flair to his extensively researched and well-documented work is a prologue and epilogue, giving the fair's story the feeling of a cultural performance. With a helpful bibliographic essay, the book is useful for undergraduate and graduate collections as well as being a good read on one of America's more revealing artifacts. S. J. Bronner Pennsylvania State University, Harrisburg

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Introductionp. xi
Prologuep. 1
1. Building the Altrurian Cityp. 5
2. American Encountersp. 45
3. Technics of Accelerationp. 85
4. A Gentle Seriousnessp. 103
5. The Search for Equilibriump. 129
6. Indian Summerp. 165
Epiloguep. 191
Bibliographical Essayp. 201
Indexp. 211