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Inside: A Public and Private Life Hardcover – March 30, 2004

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This is the most revealing political memoir from a Washington insider since Katharine Graham's Personal History. Launched into government out of Harvard Law School after a boyhood in middle-class Brooklyn, Califano (b. 1931) was a player in many of the key political conflicts of the past half-century. A "whiz kid" in Robert McNamara's Pentagon, he rose to be virtually "deputy president" for domestic policies under Lyndon Johnson. As a high-powered Washington lawyer during Nixon's administration, he represented both the Democratic Party and the Washington Post during the Watergate crisis. As Jimmy Carter's secretary of health, education and welfare, he launched a controversial campaign against smoking, defended Title IX anti-sex discrimination rules on college sports and grappled with ethical issues like in vitro fertilization-indeed, a running theme of this frank autobiography is Califano's inner struggles to reconcile the demands of politics with the dictates of his Catholic upbringing. There are a few startling moments: a youthful Hillary Rodham cursing out Califano at a congressional hearing in 1970 (two years before applying for a job at his law firm); Califano advising his friend and White House chief of staff Alexander Haig to have Nixon burn the incriminating Watergate tapes; House Speaker Tip O'Neill warning Califano that tobacco firms were capable of having him murdered for his anti-smoking stand. LBJ, Post publisher Katharine Graham and law partner Edward Bennett Williams emerge as Califano's heroes, while the portraits of Carter and New York governor Mario Cuomo are scathing. In sum, this is a revealing self-portrait filled with vivid scenes from four decades near the center of American government. 16 pages of b&w photos.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Since he has already written about working for LBJ (The Triumph and Tragedy of Lyndon Johnson, 1991), Califano sensibly shortens his White House days in this full-fledged review of his life. As his title announces, Califano has been part of Washington's lawyer-lobbying class: at his peak of influence in the 1970s, he was a partner of legendary lawyer Edward Bennett Williams and was President Jimmy Carter's first secretary of health, education, and welfare. Had Califano dwelt on political war stories, his memoir might have spoken only to Beltway cognoscenti, but a theme infrequently found among contemporary political memoirists distinguishes this one. It is the author's examination of his religion, Roman Catholicism, and its presence in his life alongside his roles in creating, managing, and advocating for the welfare state. He counts late 1950s Catholic discussion groups as influencing him to become a liberal Democrat and elsewhere talks revealingly about having his first marriage annulled and coping with cancer. From Vatican II to Watergate, Califano makes his recollections intimate and interesting. Gilbert Taylor
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 560 pages
  • Publisher: PublicAffairs; 1st edition (March 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1586482300
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.4 x 1.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,115,439 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Joseph A. Califano, Jr. is Founder and Chair Emeritus of The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (CASA), an independent non-profit research center in New York City he founded in 1992.

Mr. Califano received his Bachelor of Arts degree from The College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts, in 1952, and his LL.B., from Harvard Law School in 1955 where, he was an editor of the Harvard Law Review.

Mr. Califano served as President Lyndon B. Johnson's top White House domestic aide from 1965 to 1969. In this position, he led the preparation of the President's legislative program, handled domestic crises, and coordinated coordinate economic policies. He worked on a variety of domestic problems, including health care, education, environmental and urban issues, civil rights, consumer protection, and labor-management relations.

From 1977 to 1979, Mr. Califano served as U.S. Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare under President Carter. As Secretary, Mr. Califano mounted major health promotion and disease prevention programs, including childhood immunization, the first national anti-smoking campaign, an alcoholism initiative, and issuance of Healthy People, the Surgeon General's Report on Health Promotion and Disease Prevention which for the first time set health goals for the American people. He issued the first regulations under Title IX to provide equal treatment to women's collegiate athletics and the first regulations to provide access and protection for the handicapped. He funded the first free standing Hospice in America and issued regulations to cover hospice care under Medicare.

He has been Adjunct Professor of Public Health (Health Policy and Management) at Columbia University's Medical School and School of Public Health and is a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences. In 2010, he received the Gustav O. Lienhard Award, the Institute's highest honor, for his contributions to improving public health, his leadership in catalyzing federal action to curb smoking, and his broader efforts to reduce the toll of addiction and substance abuse.

Mr. Califano is the author of thirteen books. He has written articles for The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Readers Digest, New Republic, Journal of the American Medical Association, The New England Journal of Medicine, America, The Washington Monthly, and others.

He resides in Westport, Connecticut with his wife, the former Hilary Paley Byers. They have five children and nine grandchildren.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Rick Mitchell VINE VOICE on April 14, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This is a terrific memoir. More than that though, it enables the reader to see an insider's view of Washington from 1961 through the nineties.
Mr. Califano starts with his personal history through 16 years of Catholic education, then Harvard Law, the Navy and a brief stint in big firm NYC law practive. From there the book takes off with his life in the nations's capital.
Hired by Cy Vance, he moves on to McNamara and then becomes Johnson's deputy for domestic affairs. After the Johnson administration he went into private practice where he represented the Democratic Party through the McGovern debacle/convention and then the Washington Post through Watergate. Thence on to be the last Secretary of HEW. After his firing by Carter he returns to law and then to his own foundation/think tank to combat addictions of all types.
In addition to the professional bio he balances enough personal history to understand the man without violating his own and his family's privacy. To leave it as an autobiography would be a great disservice to this book.
Oftentimes when we seek to understand our government we go back into history - to Jefferson, Hamilton or either Roosevelt. One of the most meritorious aspects of this memoir is that it helps us to understand the workings of our government through the much more relevant history of the past three and a half decades. Because Mr. Califano was in close to the major domestic issues of this time period (he happily had nothing to do with Viet Nam), the reader can see and understand the inner workings of the government. When Johnson powered through his domestic agenda of civil rights and the Great Society, Califano was one of his prime engineers.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Anthony L. Duhamel on September 7, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I heard Mr. Califano on the radio plugging his book and eagerly sought it out. To me, a disappointment. The merits of his accomplishment - and they are many - aside, the book struck me as just a bit too self serving. It may be my frame of reference - I tend to be more middle of the road, he a bit more liberal. And as in the commercial, "Where's the beef" I'm not certain that all the programs he initiated and helped found have stood the test of time. The Great Society, for example, is far from achieving the wonderfully lofty goals it proclaimed. But perhaps I quibble.

Of very great concern to me, however is his profession of faith and how he sensed that it "guided" him so often in his career and personal life. His explanation of his annulment in the Catholic church and how it could not be considered a "Catholic divorce" left me more than a little puzzled. Words have a way of shaping reality and if nothing else, Mr. Califano is a master at that.

His is, I believe, very good view from a participant in history - the Nixon section was to my way of thinking fair and balance. But overall, the book to me was a let down.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A. McIntyre on April 17, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I share some things with Califano, the same potical beliefs, faith and concern for this country's drug abuse problems. Califano brings his experiences in governmant to life, particularly his interaction with heros like Lyndon Johnson and Robert McNamara. He is fair with Jimmy Carter, who fired the author as Secratary of HEW. Interesting people like Edward Bennett Williams, Art Buchwald, Bill Paley (his father in law) and Mario Cuomo (not to best advantage) also appear; Califano knows them all. He also discusses his childhood and education, with emphasis on pride in being an Irish-Italian Catholic.
About two thirds through the book, I concluded that Califano
was telling to like it was -- but always with the skill of a great lawyer and bureaucrat. In other word, you are hearing his side of the story. Califano spends a chapter discussing his reluctance to seek an annulment from his first marriage. It is a wonderful chapter, touching on all aspects of a very difficult decision. Wonderfully told and moving, until you realize that Califano merely states, without explaining, that all three of his children from the first marriage did not attend his church wedding to his second wife (they had been married in a civil ceremony 7 years earlier).
I would still recommend the book; it's tough to put down because you never know what's coming next. Califano, at age 60, is advised by Lady Bird Johnson to work and play hard for the next 15 years because energy starts to flag after that -- great advice that Califano follows despite bouts of cancer. (Califano does not mention Lady Bird's recent victory over the history channel in geeting the channel to retract a program on LBJ's part in the JFK assassination - one wonders if he was partly responsible for the victory.)
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By GEORGE R. FISHER on June 20, 2004
Format: Hardcover
What is it to be a Washington insider? Consider this quote ': "? no legal fee can be too high for a large corporation with billions at stake on a phrase in the law ?" Meet Joe Califano: simultaneously General Counsel to the Democratic National Convention and Outside Counsel to the Washington Post during Watergate; and the reason you can't smoke in public.
Joe Califano's career as a Washington insider began as a member of the Kennedy administration and continues to this day as that most celebrated but shadowy of creatures, the Washington insider. His book is a very personal account, easily read, of a man who has exercised power and enjoyed himself doing it. His is a quintessentially American not-quite-rags to riches story, the result of hard work and dedication. A heroic figure to many (and quite pleased with himself), Joe Califano is also a card carrying member of the society of arch devils who comprised Liberal America in its pre-Reagan heyday.
Raised by a devout family, in a devout milieu, Califano attributes much of his social consciousness to his strict Catholic upbringing; Catholicism takes up a good part of the beginning of the book and a very large part of all of Califano's life; repeatedly woven into the story are the strength his faith gave him and the wrenching conflicts it forced him to face.
Switching from the reflexively anti-communistic Republicanism of his family, and while working for Republican Tom Dewey's law firm, Joe's policy instincts were first evident in his early support for Jack Kennedy. Supporting JFK in debates at New York City's Reform Democratic Clubs, he recalls "In all my debates, I was never able to capture a single vote for Kennedy".
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