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Life Among the Cannibals: A Political Career, a Tea Party Uprising, and the End of Governing As We Know It [Kindle Edition]

Sen. Arlen Specter , Charles Robbins
2.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)

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Book Description

A revealing memoir of how Washington is changing---and not for the better

During a storied thirty-year career in the U.S. Senate, Arlen Specter rose to Judiciary Committee chairman, saved and defeated Supreme Court nominees, championed NIH funding, wrote watershed crime laws, always staying defiantly independent, "The Contrarian," as Time magazine billed him in a package of the nation's ten-best Senators. It all ended with one vote, for President Obama's stimulus, when Specter broke with Republicans to provide the margin of victory to prevent another Depression.

Shunned by the GOP faithful, Specter changed parties, giving Democrats a sixty-vote supermajority and throwing Washington into a tailspin. He kept charging, taking the first bursts of Tea Party fire at public meetings on Obama's health care--reform plan. Undaunted, Specter cast the key vote for the health plan.

In Life Among the Cannibals, Specter candidly describes the battles that led to his party switch, his tough transition, the unexpected struggles and duplicity that he faced, and his tumultuous campaign and eventual defeat in the 2010 Pennsylvania Democratic primary.

Taking us behind the scenes in the Capitol, the White House, and on the campaign trail, he shows how the rise of extremists---in both parties---has displaced tolerance with purity tests, purging centrists, and precluding moderate, bipartisan consensus.

Editorial Reviews


Praise for Life Among the Cannibals

"Worth reading because it might be a long time (if ever) before somebody so unarguably knowledgeable will exercise such candor about partisan American politics.”

--Philadelphia Daily News

"Specter ... offers his knowledgeable, withering critique of brutal partisanship in national politics."

--Publishers Weekly

"A highly readable battle cry from the moderate center—and timely, given the tenor of politics today."

--Kirkus Reviews

“A remarkable work, as Specter courageously chastises the Republican Party for its fixation on litmus tests. Specter -- a veteran Republican who left the party in April 2009 -- is right to warn of the risks posed to America by hyper-partisanship. … An impassioned call for the return of moderation to the party.”

--D.R. Tucker, The Huffington Post

Praise for Never Give In

“Written in Senator Specter's trademark candor, Never Give In is a compelling tale of survival---both personal and political---from one of the Senate’s most independent voices.”

--Vice President Joe Biden

Never Give In brims with the singular tenacity and humor that have characterized Arlen Specter’s nearly thirty years in the United States Senate. This book is both an entertaining read and an unflinching account of the experience of fighting an intensely personal battle on a highly public stage.”

--Michael J. Fox

“He knows a thing or two about illness and politics. It's a hell of a read.”

--Larry King

About the Author

SENATOR ARLEN SPECTER, son of Jewish immigrants, grew up in Kansas, graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Pennsylvania, served as an editor of the law journal at the Yale Law School, and was a lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force. As an Assistant Counsel to the Warren Commission investigating the assassination of President Kennedy, he developed the Single Bullet Theory. As Philadelphia District Attorney, he created a national model for the modern prosecutor’s office, sought life sentences for career criminals and realistic rehabilitation for first offenders, and trail-blazed prosecutions for police brutality. During thirty years in the U.S. Senate, he served as chairman of the Judiciary Committee, the Intelligence Committee, the Veterans’ Affairs Committee, and the Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education. He presided over the confirmation hearings of Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito, and his questioning of Judge Robert Bork, by many accounts, prompted the Senate to reject Bork’s nomination. He led successful efforts to triple funding for the National Institutes of Health. In 2007, Time magazine named him one of the Ten-Best Senators. He currently practices law in Philadelphia, lectures at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, and recently hosted a pilot of PBS’s Arlen Specter’s The Whole Truth, a public-affairs television program that cuts to the heart of the day’s toughest national political issues.

CHARLES ROBBINS served as Senator Specter’s communications director in his Senate office and on his presidential campaign. He is the author of the forthcoming novel The Accomplice as well as coauthor, with former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, of the forthcoming The U.S. Senate, and coauthor of Senator Specter’s Passion for Truth. A former newspaper reporter and Navy reserve officer, he is a graduate of Princeton University, the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, and the master of fine arts program at Queens University of Charlotte. He lives in Washington, D.C.

Product Details

  • File Size: 971 KB
  • Print Length: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books (March 27, 2012)
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00633QJ6C
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #749,056 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

2.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Specter explains how the Senate really works May 30, 2012
"Collegialism and compromise" is how the Senate should work, as stated in "Life Among the Cannibals," the autobiogrpahy and political narrative of former Pennsylvania Senator, Arlen Specter. Specter knows it well. He spent thirty years as a U.S. Senator, a "centrist" in his own description, who defied ideological typecast. He was often a thorn in the side to ideological purists in both parties.

For most of his career, Specter was a Republican but in his last two years, a Democrat after his celebrated party switch which he describes in detail. Labels such as "maverick," "independent" or "off-the-reservation" are among the more charitable terms used by his Senate colleagues to describe Specter. His independence of thought made him unreliable in the view of many of his Senate colleagues, traitorous in the eyes of some.

Specter rues the decline of the moderate center and in particular, the wipeout of the moderate faction of the Republican Party. He describes the withering away of leading Republican moderates over the last thirty years, including Senators Jacob Javits, Jim Jeffords, Charles Mathias, Cale Boggs, Warren Rudman, Charles Percy, Lowell Weicker, John Chaffee and later, his son, Lincoln Chaffee, Mark Hatfield, Bob Packwood, John Warner, George Voinovich, Bob Bennett and soon to be out, Olympia Snowe and Dick Lugar. On the Democratic side, centrists such as Evan Bayh and now, Joe Lieberman have been pushed aside. The Republican Party has become much more conservative and the Democratic Party has become more liberal. The ideological center has for the most part, disappeared.

Specter managed to steer a largely independent course and repeatedly defied political odds to be re-elected.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Arlen -- Friend or Foe? November 5, 2012
By Verne
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Arlen Specter represented my state of Pennsylvania for 30 years in the United States Senate and many years before that in government service at the local and state level. While he and I didn't agree on everything legislative or political, I respected him for doing what he thought best for the state and the country. We used to have politicians like that. I used to be able to vote for a Republican once in a while. I wondered if my political views had shifted dramatically over the years, or what the problem was that now I am almost compelled to vote a straight Democratic ticket. This book explains the shift that took place and the forces behind it are as hideous as I feared. Arlen was made a marked man for his occasional votes outside the conservative GOP black and white agenda. This agenda is driven by a handful of wealthy, connected people who play rough with our political system. Play is what they do, too. Their victories, large and small, have nothing to do with the country's betterment, but are self-serving steps toward aristocracy. Specter spent the last ten years or so of his political career targeted for destruction by this self-proclaimed elite, fighting their unabashed proclivity to lying about his voting record. The greatest misfortune is that the democrats didn't recognize what a jewel they had received when Specter switched parties. Read the book and see if you can come up with any way to move the politicians in both parties more toward the center where compromise is not seen as betrayal.
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22 of 30 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Reviewing who or what? April 15, 2012
I've waited months for Specter's book to be published, mainly because of his impressive legislative record and the sadness of how his hands were tied in his ability to lead the Senate Judiciary Committee. However, having said that, I suppose I've identified (or disqualified) myself as being both pro democratic and pro Arlen. Which clearly these reviewers (8 to date) are not; outdoing themselves in condemning a book, that some of them have clearly not read. ("Read all my reviews" some of these proclaim - so I did - and found a love of writing hostile reviews, or reviews such as "Cat S_ _ _ One", that depicts violent combat scenes of cute little animals enthusiastically dispatching figures with turbaned heads that presumably represent Taliban.

Some news opinionators have selected passages that talk of nudity and it appears that commentators have picked up on these titillating sound bites. By contrast, reviews in the Washington Post and the Huffington Post are relatively enthusiastic about the book. Books by the likes of Dick Cheney and various ex-presidents are predictably self-serving and shy on details of the controversial areas of their careers or their obvious misteps. I anticiaped an intelligent tell-all expose of his 30 years in the senate, by someone who has transcended the need for party allegiance - and was not disappointed.

We live in the era of a paralyzed, stridently partisan congress and supreme court - and how this destructive state of affairs came to be is a story that needs to be told. This cause is not served by ad hominems that suggest Specter is homosexual, an opportunistic flip-flopper, suffering from dementia, or simply that he should die. He isn't flawless - he was nasty to Anita Hill, and his judgment about the single JFK assassin theory in the Warren Report was questionable. However critics would do well to look at his entire legislative record.

Bottom line - don't blindly trust Amazon reviews without checking the reviewer!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars American Traitor
Arlen Specter was a traitor and muderer after the fact. Rot in Hell
Published 5 months ago by Heaven's May Fall
5.0 out of 5 stars Readers who like political biographies
This is a notable political autobiography. It covers the career of Pennsylvania's longest serving U.S. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Leon Czikowsky
5.0 out of 5 stars Independent Thinker, Excellent Book
Well written and thought-provoking. No towing the party line for this man, which I greatly admire. A thinking man and woman's politician. Read more
Published on October 15, 2012 by Mystery Lover
1.0 out of 5 stars fails to deliver on title's promise
I read this book hoping to get a better understanding of what was happening in current politics and why. It failed to shed much light here. Read more
Published on May 16, 2012 by Marsha S
5.0 out of 5 stars If you actually read the book, you might find it interesting
if you read most of these "reviews" it's obvious that the people have not read the book, they hate Spector because he left the party. Read more
Published on April 22, 2012 by Ordinary citizen
5.0 out of 5 stars Americans Deserve to know why Democracy is dead, and Plutocracy rules
right on, Arlen! Check out his interview on Cspan, he does a very good description of the right wing fanatics and bullies in Congress who prevent rational debate and... Read more
Published on April 20, 2012 by nonamespecified
1.0 out of 5 stars Rubish
This is a book you will be mad at your self for having spent the money on to read it. You should be paid for reading it. Read more
Published on April 6, 2012 by Susan M
2.0 out of 5 stars like the Senator himself
this book is interminably boring with a fixation on squash that borders on vegetable, as Senator Packwood's dubious play gets more time than his reputation as the "tongue. Read more
Published on April 4, 2012 by CD in DC
1.0 out of 5 stars Life Among People Smarter & More Ethical Than Arlen Specter
On the one hand I must grudgingly congratulate Mr. Specter for his bold stand in writing this book describing the onset of Alzheimer's and dementia. Read more
Published on April 2, 2012 by trapeze
1.0 out of 5 stars Creepy
The graphic examples that Senator Spector gives of his colleagues at the "Congressional Gym" was out and out creepy. A little too much information for me .... I felt like vomiting! Read more
Published on April 2, 2012 by Pal Val
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