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Locked in the Cabinet Paperback – February 3, 1998

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (February 3, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375700617
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375700613
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #772,047 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

On the face of it, here's an improbable book: a memoir of four years as Secretary of ... Labor. Well, in this case it works because the author is Robert B. Reich, a warm and lively writer who because of his 'Friend Of Bill' status and his strong positions on economic issues was inside virtually every political and ideological tussle of the Clinton administration's first term. What puts the book over the top though is that its author retains his humanity even after walking through the looking glass of official Washington. We experience, for instance, the angst of having to let his two sons and wife go back to the family home in Cambridge because he can't quite yet leave the struggle for such improvements as an increase in the minimum wage. Throughout it all, Reich keeps the sharp eye of the outsider. Witness for example this comment about Newt Gingrich: "His office is adorned with figurines of dinosaurs, as you might find in the bedrooms of little boys who dream of one day being huge and powerful." --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Library Journal

If you've ever wondered what it's like to be in a powerful position in government, author Reich's memoirs of his stint as President Clinton's Labor Secretary (1992?96) is a good place to start. Known as the "conscience" of the Clinton administration, Reich reveals a life inside the loop that is a funny, enlightening personal account of his efforts to put his boomer ideals into practice. These journal entries deal with the relentless pressure from all sides about pending legislation, ridiculous interactions with elected officials and lobbyists, advice to the President on wage and labor issues, and interactions with such powerful officials as Alan Greenspan, Newt Gingrich, and, of course, his 20-year pal, Bill Clinton. Reich's experience as a writer (e.g., The Work of Nations, Vintage, 1992), not a laborer, posed peculiar difficulties in building relationships with labor leaders. From striking baseball players to union bosses to shameless politicians, Reich has had to deal with them all in his strong commitment to Clinton's goals while struggling to maintain family balance, classifying him as one of the more successful labor leaders in history. This is essential for larger public libraries in metropolitan areas with heavy interest in memoirs of insider politicos.?Dale Farris, Groves, Tex.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Audio Cassette edition.

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Customer Reviews

The book is more than easy reading, it is very hard to put down.
Stuart B. Dunn
The book is full of good stories, smart character sketches, and clear ideas about economics and politics.
Chris Bram
He truly makes the Government feel so close, yet so far away from us.
N. Bazo

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 9, 1999
Format: Paperback
As someone in political science, I found Reich's book an endlessly fascinating read, for several reasons:
1) His wit and humor, which he was not afraid to aim at himself.
2) Seeing national policymaking from a Cabinet Secretarial perspective, which we almost never see in books. You literally see how and why the Clinton Administration struggled with its attempts to follow through on some of its significant policy reform promises of 1992. You also see through Reich's eyes the intense competition for just mere access to a President's ear, particularly between White House staffers and Cabinet Secretaries. Finally, he states clearly one main obstacle he and other Cabinet secretaries face in policymaking and implementing: the cross-pressuredness from organized labor and free-trade advocates and how they "keep talking past each other" without seeing the partial truth in each other's positions.
3) How Reich raises some serious macroeconomic policy questions regarding economic globalization, free trade, income equality, job security, and how they possibly relate to each other and to other non-economic issues facing the nation and the world. One criticism I do have with Reich's work is that he perhaps goes overboard in citing over and over again his arguments from "The Work of Nations" and other previous books.
Note: Reich also has admitted to exaggerating about experiences with conservatives (i.e. at the National Association of Manufacturers' meeting and before one House committee) where he wasn't as "roasted" by them as he claimed to be in the hardcover version.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Stuart B. Dunn on January 5, 2002
Format: Paperback
This facinating book, by a man who really cares, tells it just how it is to try to get meaningful things done in the whorehouse which is Washington, D.C. The book is written in a humorous, self-deprecating style, but at it's heart it is a cry for help.
The book is more than easy reading, it is very hard to put down.
Anyone who aspires to a politcal position should read this book, and then decide whether he/she will be able to stand the process.It is a primer for those who wish to understand the Washington sceene and how things are done (or not done.) His description of the confirmation process is pure tragi-comedy.
Reich is a thinking man's liberal. He went to Washington with the hope that under Clinton some of the things he believed in could be accomplished. In the end he was largely frustrated.
He is a man I would like to invite to dinner. I can't say that about many others who have worked in government.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Richard Ballard on October 23, 2002
Format: Hardcover
In 1992 Robert B. Reich joined his friend Governor Bill Clinton's Presidential election campaign. Dr. Reich intended to explore a new territory -- a nation where Government subsidized the training of young and displaced workers for modern *better* jobs. Upon President Clinton's election Dr. Reich was appointed Secretary of Labor, a Cabinet post that Dr. Reich held until after President Clinton's successful re-election. "Locked In The Cabinet" chronicles Dr. Reich's workers' advocacy.
Dr. Reich was an able Labor Secretary with tangible accomplishments (e.g., a minimum wage increase and enactment of the Family and Medical Leave Act). He supported NAFTA while *strongly* advocating Federal subsidies to train new and displaced United States' workers -- ***better jobs for all Americans***.
"Locked ..." chronicles idealism, hard work, personal sacrifice, salesmanship, compromise and frustration. Dr. Reich brought his workers' agenda to Washington at a time when the poor and middle class had lost employment and real income for two decades. During his four years as Labor Secretary, Dr. Reich increasingly saw his workers' agenda tabled as other, more powerful constituencies (e.g., Wall Street and the military) got priority. Dr. Reich did not achieve his workers' agenda -- his agenda remains tabled today.
Dr. Reich is an *extremely* intelligent man and an able author. "Locked ..." is his story told with a sharp and depreciating wit. Dr. Reich's strong wit occasionally obscures his message: Continuity of Government is each Administration's goal and everybody must support the Administration, yet politics hinders 'team play' by dissecting, analyzing and criticizing *every utterance*. One day you are 'locked in'. If something happens the next day you are 'locked out'.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 20, 2001
Format: Paperback
I am a student of Robert Reich's at Brandeis Univeristy and have found him to be one of the most honest, kind, and insightful people I've met. Locked in the Cabinet is a well-crafted, honest, and humorous book by a brilliant man.
I happen to hold Reich's views, but even students here at Brandeis who completely disagree with him still read his books and take his courses because they respect the intelligence behind his writing and teaching style, the candidness with which he sets his ideas forth, and the respect he shows for those who disagree with his ideas. (He's also very funny, frank, and charming--attributes which come accross in this and all of his works.)
Reich talks about the world as it is, and isn't afraid to say how he thinks it should be.
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