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Like much congressional legislation, Rep. Marcy Kaptur’s new book has, at its heart, a great idea; there’s just something lost in the execution. In Women of Congress: A Twentieth-Century Odyssey, the Ohio Democrat examines the lives of some of the 176 women who have served in Congress—a mere 1.5 percent of the total. The historical questions are obvious and important; for example: What did they have in common? Why these 176 women, and not others? Is there evidence that women legislate differently from men? But Kaptur doesn’t answer the important questions. Rather, she uses (mostly) previously published works to compile biographies of 15 members of Congress, and she produces useful charts and facts on women in Congress. But she’s a politician playing a historian, and it shows—from the typo in the book’s first sentence to her sweeping, historically crude judgment that “all” the women who have served in Congress “exhibited insight into the human condition, a persevering determination to overcome obstacles, and a conscience formed in the knowledge that women have always been…charged with nurturing, teaching, and enlightening the human race.” Leave the history to others, congresswoman. Meet Kaptur at 7 p.m. at Borders, 18th & L Sts. NW. FREE. (202) 466-4999. (John Cloud)