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Author and essayist Horwitt's latest is a love letter to Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold, the lawmaker whose political life began with a seat on his high school student council (where his "leadership reflected both his passion for the democratic ideals he had absorbed from his family, and his identification with American civil rights and the political heroes who sought to turn those ideals into reality") and now "represents the progressive side of the Democratic divide more clearly and authentically than any successful politician on the national stage." It would be easy to fault Horwitt for his naiveté ("With Wisconsin progressives, efficient government and fiscal prudence were not empty slogans; they were simply the way government was supposed to work. And honesty and high ethical standards were practical, indispensable ingredients of efficient government because they curbed tendencies toward cronyism, graft, and other forms of corruption."), but his intent here seems to be one of preaching to the choir. In that case, he succeeds with this light, one-sided polit-bio.
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Feingold's name is likely most often recalled in tandem with Senator John McCain's as part of campaign-finance-reform law. His lone Senate vote against the U.S. Patriot Act and his criticism of the war in Iraq have also heightened his profile as a man willing to take courageous stances. Horwitt, whose previous work was a biography of social reformer Saul Alinsky, depicts the Democratic senator from Wisconsin as an authentic progressive at a time when his party has lost its bearings. Raised by a staunchly Democratic father, Feingold developed a passion for politics early and an appreciation for progressive ideals. Horwitt recounts Feingold's rise in politics, always evoking the progressive label even as the Democrats adopted political pragmatism. Feingold was on course for clashes with his own partydefying Democrats to vote to continue the impeachment hearing of President Clinton following the Monica Lewinsky scandal and butting heads with Hillary Clinton on campaign-finance reform. Although this biography is unauthorized, the timing of its publication will certainly pique readers' curiosity about Feingold's further political ambitions. Bush, VanessaSee all Editorial Reviews