Al Franken, Giant of the Senate by Al Franken
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Occasionally I have to take a break from my usual SFF (science fiction/fantasy) kick to touch base with the real world. This has become exponentially more difficult since 11/9/2016. But for a good view of American politics, even in the face of the horror that is 45, you could do far worse than this book.
Here, Al Franken charts his unlikely rise from Saturday Night Live to the United States Senate. I own other books by him, and the first thing you notice is that his instinct for a quip is somewhat reined in here (except in the footnotes). This is something he has learned since coming to the Senate, where he realized that his Minnesotan constituents would want a hard-working plowhorse, not an artsy-fartsy show pony. This learning curve has served him well, since when he does let loose, he is deadlier than ever. (This is most notably on display in chapter 37, "Sophistry," wherein we learn that Ted Cruz is every bit the patronizing, smarmy asshole in private as he comes across in public. That chapter is worth the price of admission all by itself.) He tries hard to humanize his political opponents, not demonize them (with the justifiable exceptions of Cruz and 45), and the book is an absorbing look at how American political sausage is made. From the unavoidable necessity of constant fundraising, to his admitted dependence on his staff to rein in his comedic instincts, to the awful grind that was his first Senatorial campaign in 2006 (and the dirty, lying tricks the Republicans used against him), Franken's story of how he followed in the footsteps of his friend Paul Wellstone is fascinating reading.
It's also an uplifting tale of a fundamentally decent person and how he has made a difference. The people of Minnesota have been very fortunate to have Al Franken as their Senator. I wish he were mine.
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