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Barney Frank: The Story of America's Only Left-Handed, Gay, Jewish Congressman Hardcover – September 11, 2009


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 544 pages
  • Publisher: University of Massachusetts Press; 1 edition (September 11, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1558497218
  • ISBN-13: 978-1558497214
  • Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 6.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #324,895 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Barney Frank is a masterful legislator and one of the great political minds of our generation. His style—principled but pragmatic, tenacious yet fair, and always brilliant and funny—has won him the respect of his colleagues on both sides of the aisle. Stuart Weisberg's lively biography of Barney Frank documents all of these extraordinary qualities, and the many ways in which he enriches our democracy."—Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives

"Barney Frank is one of the most brilliant, effective—and funny—lawmakers of his generation. Not many Congressmen are worthy of a book, but Stuart Weisberg's carefully researched and authoritative account proves that Barney's life and career are indeed the stuff of fine biography."—Cokie Roberts, Steven V. Roberts, ABC News political commentator / Shapiro Professor of Media and Public Affairs, George Washington University

"Stuart Weisberg's biography of Barney Frank is not just definitive—it's as entertaining and fascinating as its subject."—Jeffrey Toobin, author of The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court

"Someone once said to me, 'Barney Frank talks very fast.' I said, 'Yes, but his mind operates even faster.' I love the beauty and agility of his mind, his extraordinary brilliance, and his intuitive sense of what is right to do in this country. We laughed together, we cried together—we won some battles, we lost some battles—but I was very honored to serve with this gentleman. Stuart Weisberg reveals Barney Frank's captivating personality in this riveting biography."—Ronald Dellums, Mayor of Oakland, California, and former Congressman

"Weisberg has assembled a thorough portrait of Frank and a compelling Baedecker to Massachusetts politics in the last quarter of the 20th century and the first decade of the 21st."—Boston Globe

"Weisberg creates a mesmerizing portrait of the legislator known for his wit, speaking skills, intellect, and political savvy, who, when he publicly came out in 1987, was the first serving Congressman to so declare. Starting with Frank's beginnings among the 'cohesive minority' of Jews in the all-white, heavily Roman Catholic, industrial town of Bayonne, New Jersey, Weisberg shows Frank being drawn early to politics—he campaigned for Stevenson in 1956 at age 16—but hiding his sexuality for 25 years. His political career began with moving from a Harvard teaching fellowship to Boston City Hall politics in reform mayor Kevin white's administration and eventually to election to Congress in 1980, where he rose to current chairmanship of the House Financial Services Committee. among the many compelling passages here are those detailing Frank's half-in, half-out of the closet life while in his forties—an unfortunate but understandable 'midlife adolescence' for a man who had previously paid male prostitutes and 'didn't have a social life until he was 45.' A significant additional to political and gay studies."—Booklist

About the Author

Stuart Weisberg is an attorney who spent ten years as staff director and chief counsel for the House Government Operations Subcommittee on Employment and Housing. He directed the subcommittee’s lengthy investigation in 1989 of what came to known as the “HUD scandal.” During the Clinton administration, he served as chair of the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission, an independent federal adjudicative agency. He lives in Bethesda, Maryland.

Customer Reviews

Very well written and actually quite quick and easy to read.
Lee Jackson
We see Frank the rude, the impatient, the gloomy, the slob as well as Frank the brilliant, the funny, the passionate, and the competent.
AAF
Frank remains true both to those ideals and to the practical approach to politics.
William Black

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 15 people found the following review helpful By William Black on October 16, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
First, a disclaimer. I was a source for this book. That said, the book is an extraordinary political biography that describes the life of an amazing politician, but also of an era. While the term, "the spirit of the sixties" has been trivialized over time, this book highlights the best of that decade by showing the genuine idealism at its heart. Moreover, this "spirit" is transcended to the degree that Barney Frank combined - and combines - the idealism of that era with a practical approach to politics. His goal was to have a measurable effect on the lives of poor people, who were then and are today, neglected by the political elites at all levels of government. This book shows how he did this and is a very valuable primer for those driven by results in public policy rather than scoring political points. Even to this day, in his very powerful position as Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, Rep. Frank remains true both to those ideals and to the practical approach to politics. Of course, the book is also peppered with endless examples of Rep. Franks wicked wit, which provides chuckles throughout.

Having proudly worked for Barney Frank, I can't claim to be objective about the book. But I can report on its accuracy, which is scrupulous. I was deeply involved with a particularly period in Rep. Frank's career and I could not find a single error of fact or even interpretation on things on which I had personal knowledge. I have to say, I was surprised by the candor I found in this authorized biography. This is a "warts and all" account that is very honest about some of Rep. Frank's personal struggles and, shall we say, challenging personality traits.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey Drummond on March 17, 2015
Format: Hardcover
Hero for his support of civil rights and economic equality for all: in the African-American civil rights struggle in the 60's, in support of gender equality for women, in his LGBT rights work, and in his constant fight for the economically disadvantaged. His Dodd-Frank statute rewrote bank regulation in the USA and worldwide, and has already led to huge improvements in the protection of a stable economy in the public interest. A great man in our time.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Shari Peterson on June 19, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Barney Frank is an interesting character; however the book appears to be more of a political book than personal biography. The reviews were misleading.
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8 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Dallas on April 23, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I bought this book because Barney Frank is such an interesting person and politician. I thought that his biography above most other politicians' biographies would be likewise an interesting read. However, the writing in the book is constructed in such a mundane way (e.g., "he did this, then he did that, then he did his") that there is no storytelling element in it besides a monotonous recalling of facts. The painfully bland narrative voice does a disservice to Barney Frank's fascinating life. Ultimately, I could not finish the book because of its poor writing. The research is probably very good, but it needs another voice/writing style. I hope that one day a biography that is as interesting and fascinating as Barney Frank's life makes it to the shelves. I do not recommend this book, but I do recommend doing your own research and reading on this amazing politician.
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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on December 12, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Grounded in interviews with over 150 people, Barney Frank: The Story of America's Only Left-Handed, Gay, Jewish Congressman is a comprehensive biography of the unusual American legislator whose recent landmarks include helping to craft a compromise bill to halt the increasing wave of home mortgage foreclosures, and the $700 billion "rescue plan" that followed. An evenhanded portrait, Barney Frank: The Story of America's Only Left-Handed, Gay, Jewish Congressman reveals both Frank's strengths and talents in communication and alliance-building, and his more negative side - such as his impatience, which is has all but become the stuff of White House legend. Of especial interest is the particular pressures Frank has come under as arguably the most prominent and widely known openly gay politician in America (his career was almost ended by a publicized sex scandal with a male prostitute). An excellent portrait of a career pragmatist and a skilled legislator, Barney Frank: The Story of America's Only Left-Handed, Gay, Jewish Congressman is an enthusiastically recommended addition to American biography collections.
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8 of 13 people found the following review helpful By AAF on November 3, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Stuart Weisberg has written a strong, clear, readable and straight biography of one of the most interesting people in American life today. Weisberg tells the story chronologically, identifying the players, clarifying the issues, and not rendering his own judgment. He quotes many of Frank's greatest lines, but provides enough details on Frank's ideology, personality and psychology so the reader can see the warts. Weisberg admires Frank but this book is not an example of hero worship. We see Frank the rude, the impatient, the gloomy, the slob as well as Frank the brilliant, the funny, the passionate, and the competent.
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Barney Frank: The Story of America's Only Left-Handed, Gay, Jewish Congressman
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