Customer Reviews: Locked in the Cabinet
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on June 9, 1999
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. However, we are reminded that this is a book about his own personal experiences as Secretary of Labor, so naturally we'll be seeing everything through his eyes and his political & ideological points of view.
In short, this book works on many levels, especially in the sharper focus and perspective it puts upon the seemingly maddening and confusing dynamics of 1990s politics.
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on January 5, 2002
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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on October 23, 2002
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'.
I believe that after his resignation Dr. Reich wrote "Locked In The Cabinet" to place his experiences in perspective. I highly recommend this serious book both for its wit and also for its important message.
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on April 20, 2001
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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on June 12, 1997
This book could have been a great insight intothe current administration. UnfortunatelyMr. Reich invented several passages out of thin air. It was recently reported on NPR that several journalists had reviewed the transcripts of press conferences that are quoted in this book. When reviewed they could not locate any of the witty and insightful comments Mr. Reich claims to have made. When asked about these mistakes he claimed that "all truth is subjective" and that these were his memories, not a reporter's accounting. It sounds like the fact that he was a FOB has allowed Bill Clinton's view of honesty to rub off on Mr. Reich.
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on July 21, 2004
Reich is absolutely brilliant and this book presents a good dollop of his wisdom. Few people in politics are driven by ideals anymore, which makes Reich's laser focus on improving economic inequity all the more laudable. And doomed.

In fact, this book explains a whole lot about how & why Clinton's first term of office became such a disappointment. "B" (as Reich, a longtime FoB, calls him) was elected with a mandate, he was young and energetic, he was idealistic and he was determined to improve the social disasters left by 12 years of voodoo economics. But he was also a classic Washington Outsider who did not have the requisite skills of playing Congress like a fiddle as FDR, JFK & LBJ had with their progressive terms. Consequently Clinton's agenda became a losing political football even under a majority Democratic Congress. When Congress passed back into Republican hands in 1994 (in large part due to Clinton's own fumbling) his effectiveness was cut off at the knees by Newt Gingrich and his Contract with America. From then on, B was in full-time CYA mode, relying on Dick Morris's polling of voters to decide all policy issues. The result -- and ultimately the indignity of the impeachment attempt -- are all too familiar and preordained. Alas Bill, we hardly knew thee...

Reich's book is fascinating, thought provoking, brutally frank and often hilariously funny. The man is a gem -- too bad politics isn't a respectable business anymore. Or was it ever?
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VINE VOICEon April 28, 2008
Robert Reich was the Secretary of Labor in the first Clinton administration. This book is written in the "Dear Diary" type of format. "Locked in the Cabinet" is real, personal, family, exciting, funny, lovable and though I hate to use the term ... cute. Whether you are Right or Left I think if you read this book, you would agree that Mr. Reich is a man who has his heart and his priorities in the appropriate positions.
Mr. Reich has a beautiful simplicity about what he has to say and what he suggests. You don't have to be Albert Einstein to understand what he is suggesting or where he is coming from. He is an excellent spokesman for his side of the story. And he breaks the issues down so that the reader can clearly distinguish one choice from the other. He makes the issues clear.
If you are a Political buff you will find all types of insider personality profiles. He is very outspoken and blunt. He doesn't seem to be the least bit afraid of making enemies - he might be naive but he has been around long enough that we all know that he should know better. But then he says it anyway.
What I really liked about this book is that it is not just politics - it is a literary effort also. It is a story; it's a novel; it has a beginning, a middle and an end. It's good. It's easy reading. It is insightful, thoughtful and emotional.
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Reich always is the reader in his audiobooks. He's the type of author that adds much greater meaning by narrating his own works, because his use of intonation, pace and timing is superior. He's obviously not just real smart but a standout among geniuses. In this book, he improbably explains what it was like for him to serve as Secretary of Labor and somehow not lose his soul or get tainted by corruption. Even now, I wonder what he has that kept him immune from the seedy side of power. It makes me suspicious that he didn't have much power after all compared to peers.

In this book, Reich makes the case for increasing minimum wage. He's always on the side of the bottom 70% of society. Irrespective of politics, I think anybody would feel stimulated to hear Reich speak. I continue to buy all his books in audio format, which is the best way to get his content.
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on July 13, 1998
This is one of the finest personal accounts of the daily struggles of being a Washington insider. Mr. Reich is equally critical of himself and those around him and tells a compelling story of the divergence of classes in society and his efforts to actualize change in a self-interested Washington. While I do not agree with many of Mr. Reich's economic theories, he does have a seemingly endless passion for ideas and argues from the heart. The book is a brilliant commentary on how the powerful stay powerful in Washington, while demonstrating who really influences the direction of the White House. This is a thoughtful read even for those not interested in politics and really is a page-turner, despite being a memoir of one man's four year stint in Washington.
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on April 20, 2000
I had to read Mr. Reich's book for my college Politics class. From the moment I picked it up I knew it was interesting and humorous. His inside tales of the political system are astonishing. He truly makes the Government feel so close, yet so far away from us. Although some may not like his ideas about how to govern, everyone that reads this will agree that his point of view is strongly stated and supported by numorous facts and real-life situations. Of the eight political science books I had to read for my class, this one was truly my favorite. Best of all it's an easy read.
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