Pennsylvania Avenue is a 1.2-mile stretch between the White House and the Capitol. But along that small strip are the real forces behind what gets done (and what doesn’t) in Washington. They are the people behind the elected officials – the lobbyists for special interests, the PR people, the strategists – and they affect millions of lives.

John Harwood, chief Washington correspondent for CNBC, and Gerald F. Seib, an editor for The Wall Street Journal, shed light on the complex processes that factor into the machine of our democracy. Through fly-on-the-wall accounts of powerbrokers such as Karl Rove, the authors reveal why the bitter polarity of Washington doesn’t work, while providing examples of those few inspired leaders who are trying to break through the mess.

Grade: A

Pennsylvania Avenue: Profiles in Backroom Power is currently available.