Just another GR refugee. Other than that, I had a stroke in 2004, and read almost anything I can get my hands on, though I have a particular weakness for history, mystery, and historical fiction.
The Bill of the Century is an in-depth examination of the conditions, both social and political, under which the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed. The stage is set by the Freedom Riders, the lunch-room sit-ins, and George Wallace standing in the door, and the Kennedy administration finally acts, knowing that they will have to get something *substantial* done to get re-elected. They craft a large Civil Rights Bill in the summer of 1963. And then Kennedy is assassinated.
Clay Risen's view, which I'd say was pretty thoroughly supported by the evidence, is that Lyndon Johnson gets a great deal of credit for the bill's eventual passage; but though he was cheerleader in chief, he didn't fight in the trenches. The civil rights groups (like the NAACP, SCLC, and CORE), the religious groups (everything from United Methodist Church congregations to Jesuits and B'nai Brith), the Justice Department, and President Kennedy did more than I had ever been taught.
Much of the book is about how politicians, a strange confederation of northern Democrats, liberal Republicans, and midwestern conservative Republicans actually got the bill through House and Senate, through an obstacle course of a House committee headed by a segregationist, a fake filibuster, a real, record-setting filibuster, and reconciliation of the Senate's version with that of the House. I didn't know much about Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield, who came up with the plan to get cloture, or that the role of Everett Dirksen would turn out to be vital to passage.
Recommended. (And now I want to read a biography of Mike Mansfield, who sounds fascinating.)
My ARC courtesy of NetGalley; much thanks!