Friday, May 9, 2014

A Fighting Chance, by Elizabeth Warren

Macmillan Audio, April 2014

Elizabeth Warren reads her own memoir, and as one would expect of most politicians and most professors, she does so in a clear, strong voice that's easy to listen to.

Warren, of course, is not "most politicians," and perhaps not "most professors," either. Her first venture into electoral politics was to challenge incumbent Scott Brown, and she beat him like a drum. Not that she describes it that way; she seems to have been genuinely surprised by her margin of victory.

Warren grew up the youngest of four children, the only one still at home when her  father's heart attack and subsequent impaired ability to work derailed the family's modest financial security. In spare, clear terms, she describes the struggles of the years that followed, including the plain and painful fact that her dream of going to college and becoming a school teacher were apparently killed by the fact that her parents couldn't possibly afford to send her to college. She has to rescue her own dream by finding a scholarship she could win.

And after that, nothing goes the way she expects it. Early marriage, delayed education, the frustrations of being a young mother, an almost accidental entry into teaching law. An interest in bankruptcy law inspired by her parents' struggles, and further twists and turns leading to the determination and the opportunity to create the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. From there, I suspect anyone who is interested enough to be reading this knows at least the broad outlines of how that led to her decision to run for the Senate from Massachusetts. The details, both professional and her intertwined family life, are fascinating and compelling, though.

(I'm probably revealing nothing by saying that my politics are closer to Warren's than Brown's. However, he didn't help himself with his childish and bizarre attack on Warren's Native American ancestry. I'm another nearly sheet-white, light-eyed American with a proud family history including Native American ancestry. No, Mr. Brown, you can't tell by looking at someone, and no one appointed you arbiter of who gets to talk about their ancestry.)

Warren's accounts of meeting with voters and the stresses and strains of the campaign she never expected to run are particularly compelling.

Recommended.

An excerpt from the audiobook:


I bought this book.