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Fire-Breathing Liberal: How I Learned to Survive (and Thrive) in the Contact Sport of Congress Hardcover – Bargain Price, June 24, 2008

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Editorial Reviews


“Over the course of twelve years, Robert Wexler has fought for his constituents and his ideals, refusing to let the status quo in Washington dictate what is best for this country. His book is a testament to that fight.”
--Senator Barack Obama
“[A] remarkably open and honest book for a politician to have put into the light of day. If you want to know how Washington works, read this book.”

“[Wexler’s] tales-from-the-trenches biography juggles his appealing mix of idealism and realism, explanation and anecdote, in just the right amount. . . . This really is a blast of a book to read; getting the behind-the-scenes lowdown on maneuvering legislation through committees, hitting the campaign trail vicariously with a gifted and passionate pol . . . these are experiences political junkies should lap up in big doses.”
--Daily Kos

“A rollicking tour of politics in Florida, at the White House and in the U.S. Capitol. . . . The book is part autobiography, part civics lesson and part excoriation of the Republican stewardship of Congress before the Democratic takeover last year. It's an ambitious mix, but it works.”
--St. Petersburg Times
“A really good read . . . well-seasoned with hilarious moments . . . a welcome change from all the hypocrisy and pretensions of politicians puffed up with their own self-importance. . . . This book is a great education, and everyone can benefit from Wexler's unique perspective on politics and the political process of our beloved republic.”
--Grand Rapids North Star
“This is a very good book . . . Wexler, elected to congress in 1996, is a man who is passionate but practical, liberal but realistic . . . it is worth reading.”
--Palm Beach Post
"Wexler, a six-term Democratic congressman, opens his memoir-cum-civics lesson by saying, “I want to proclaim on every page of this book that I am a liberal Democrat and proud of it.” Fortunately for the reader, he is able to weave his proclamations into entertaining vignettes from the campaign trail to the halls of Congress in blow-by-blows of his involvement in defining moments of recent history: defending President Clinton from impeachment and challenging the Gore v. Bush decision . . . [a] fascinating and humorous insider account of the House of Representatives."
--Publishers Weekly
“With enthusiasm and candor, a passionate Democratic congressman gives readers an inside look at the House of Representatives during a period of declining government accountability . . . Wexler’s Southern Florida district was the center of the “butterfly ballot” controversy during the 2000 election, and he angrily recounts the zeal and heartbreak he saw in his elderly constituents, hundreds of whom mistakenly cast votes for Pat Buchanan that were never properly recounted. A staunch supporter of Israel and a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, he endured a tense meeting with Syrian President Bashar Assad because he saw it as an opportunity to learn more about a powerful figure in Middle Eastern relations. When Assad asked, “Is George Bush crazy?” Wexler’s description of the thought process behind his carefully phrased answer offers a mini-lesson in diplomacy. His clarity and humanity in no way dampen his zest for picking fights. His list of Republican misdeeds includes strong-arming for votes, using fear to galvanize public support, misleading Congress into war and illegally wiretapping citizens . . . After loudly decrying the Clinton impeachment on the grounds that the president did not betray his country, he now declares that a worthy candidate for impeachment currently sits in the White House. Yet Wexler never loses humor or optimism. His wife, children and belief in democracy keep him grounded and working hard for civility and the ideals on which the nation was founded . . . Wexler’s approachable, eye-opening political autobiography overflows with intriguing detail and insight.”
--Kirkus Reviews
“As this inspiring book makes clear, Robert Wexler fights skillfully and passionately for progressive causes, and we’re closer to our goals because of him.”
--Senator Edward Kennedy
“I enjoyed Congressman Wexler’s book even more than I enjoy cocaine and prostitutes.”
--Stephen Colbert, host of Comedy Central's The Colbert Report
“Thank God for Robert Wexler -- the man who will always be my Congressman. This book proves he’s the only guy in politics who may have a brain and mouth bigger than mine!”
--Randi Rhodes

About the Author

Robert Wexler is a six-term Democratic congressman representing Florida's 19th district. A member of the House Judiciary, Foreign Affairs, and Financial Services committees, he was named "Most Valuable Congressman" by The Nation in 2007 and one of "The 50 Most Effective Legislators in Congress" by Congressional Quarterly. He and his wife, Laurie, have three children.
David Fisher is an author and journalist who has co-written fifteen New York Times bestsellers. He most recently co-authored William Shatner’s memoir, Up Till Now.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books; First Edition edition (June 24, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312366442
  • ASIN: B003P2VCSY
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,202,800 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Robert Kall VINE VOICE on June 27, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Frankly, I had some doubts about this book, before starting it. There are lots of congressmen out there. I didn't have to do much more than open the book though to realize that the title's not quite right. It should be Fire Breathing Liberal HERO.

There aren't many progressive, liberal members of congress (Dennis Kucinich is the first that just about any progressive will think of) and there are even less who have taken stands and less who have actually made things happen. I love the work he's written about and is still working on regarding impeachment. He's done fabulous work on election integrity-- and tells some interesting tales, being the congressman from the center of "chad county" during the 2000 Florida election disaster.

Wexler is the real deal. His book gave me, a political junkie who publishes a major liberal website reaching over half a million visitors a month, incredibly MORE new information than I expected.

In 2005, at least 16 months out from the 2006 election, my current congressman was just getting started on the campaign trail, with a number of primary opponents. He contacted me because he'd heard I was a local activist worth talking to. By the following summer, he was the democratic candidate and I was hosting house party for him and getting to know him and many of his staff pretty well. It was a learning experience and I got a much, much better picture of what members of congress do to run for office and get started. But I still had a lot of questions.

Wexler's book does a fascinating job detailing what happens when a new member of congress is elected. Then he tells us all about how he gets things done, not just in congress, but with his state's governor.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Corey Mondello on June 29, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I am a Liberal.

One who believes the Founding Fathers were Liberal.

A person described as a "Liberal" is someone who cares about the individuality of every human being and the country, along with the planet.

I use John F Kennedy's quote as a signature in all my outgoing emails;

"....if by a liberal they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people- their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights, their civil liberties.. If that is what they mean by a "liberal" then I am proud to be a liberal. "~ John F. Kennedy

I was happy to see this in Robert Wexler's book also.

It is apparent to me that, there are less and less Liberals in Congress, and because of this, the Bush administration, and all other administrations back to Reagan, have truly ruined this country.

I do not reside in Representative Wexler's home state; this does not mean I cannot support a man I find to be very important in opening the eyes of the American people, so they can see, there IS a better way.

When I first started reading "Fire-Breathing Liberal", I could not put it down. Once I did, I emailed everyone I knew and suggested they get one for themselves.

The book is easy to read for both a "lay person" and someone who may be a "political junkie".'

I hope all Liberals read this, and take back the right to call themselves, proudly a "Liberal"....maybe even a "Fire-breathing Liberal".

Corey Mondello
Boston, Massachusetts
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Liz Ellerbe on September 20, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Congressman Wexler writes fast and in fine strokes, giving one an intimate view of politics on the Hill. His Florida re-hashing of the "re-count" was even more shocking than I had observed, probably because I watched CNN too much and needed to switch channels more. (The author was very disenchanted with CNN at that time.)

On his attitude toward Bill Clinton, I felt he was somewhat Puritan, whereas he talked to the President frequently and gave him vast support. A MAJOR U.S. newspaper had reported that only three presidents (Lincoln, Truman and Carter) most probably did not deviate sexually while in the White House. I say, give Clinton a break! Afterall, Gandi and Jefferson were on the list. But I'll give Wexler credit for being a brave and outspoken fighter against the impeachment.

Incidentally, the author says he's a Liberal, not a "Progressive" like some are using now to "soften" the blow. Don't they know that Liberal is a word from Regency England that started in the early 1800s and included mostly the very wealthy? I'm proud of him for being a Liberal.

If one reads this book, one will probably want to go back to college and study poly sci, after reading Wexler's explanation of Washington politics in laymen's terms. A totally fascinating read!
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Brad Newsham on July 7, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
By the time I reached Wexler's account of the 2000 election (the 'butterfly-and-chad' troubles occurred right in Wexler's South Florida district) and to the Supreme Court's subsequent installation of George W. Bush as President (a crime carried out by political appointees of W's father, who cautioned -- if you can believe this! -- that their ruling should not be used as a precedent!), I was literally feverish with rage. This section brought back to me all the dismay and gut-wrenching anger we citizens suffered through while we stood by and watched a coup take place -- on our cowardly watch! How we can look ourselves in our mirrors eight years later...? It's enough to make one sick!

Up until that point (the section on the 2000 election thievery comes near the end), this book was an entertaining and, for me, educational look at the workings of Congress, and how a rookie representative might experience DC. By the end of the book I felt renewed admiration for Wexler -- if Congress was filled by people as outspoken as he is, I might even proudly call myself a Democrat.

My one complaint about the book is that Wexler goes easy on Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi; he repeatedly goes after Bush and Cheney for violating the Constitution and their sworn oaths to defend it, but Wexler never points out that Nancy Pelosi also took such an oath and violated it by taking impeachment "off the table." I am dying to have someone ask Pelosi in public, "Under exactly what authority did you do that?" -- but Wexler lets her off the hook here. Still, now that my fever is subsiding, I am very glad to have read this book. And I'd love to see Wexler become Obama's vice-presidential pick.
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