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A Nation of Wusses: How America's Leaders Lost the Guts to Make Us Great [Hardcover]

by Ed Rendell
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)

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Book Description

June 1, 2012 1118279050 978-1118279052 1st
Governor Ed Rendell explains why America's leaders rarely call for sacrifice for the greater good—to avoid making any sacrifices themselves!

Rendell has seen job security become the primary consideration of any person with power in America—their own job security! Most politicians and bureaucrats can see no further ahead than the next election, sometimes no further than the next press conference. Americans are rarely afraid of sacrifice and hard work when they mean building a better future, but when was the last time you heard of a leader of anything making a sacrifice for the greater good? The people can only win when they make it clear to the powers that be that making the right choices, even the hard ones, is the key to winning the next election.

  • Explains in rollicking stories ranging from the profane to the profound that most hard choices are only ""hard"" because the polls conflict with your principles
  • Ed Rendell rose to the top of Philadelphia, then Pennsylvania, then national politics, by doing what he thought was right, and there were plenty of times that looked like it would be his downfall as well
  • This book revisits the high points of Ed Rendell's career and current landscape to define the political fights his peers seem just as afraid of winning as losing
  • Rendell is a former head of the Democratic National Committee, a current MSNBC Senior Political Analyst, and a Partner at Ballard Spahr LLP

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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

Democrats who voted for the healthcare bill but pretended they hadn't; Republicans who took local credit for stimulus money while condemning the bill on TV; Eric Cantor, Mitt Romney, and the Democratic former governor of Maryland, Parris Glendening. What do they all have in common? According to former Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell, they're all wusses—and after more than three decades in politics, he knows a wuss when he sees one.

In A Nation of Wusses, Rendell revisits some of the toughest fights of his career. He recalls most vividly those moments when he saw someone stand his ground, even at the risk of incurring the wrath of supporters and losing the next election. Unfortunately, as he surveys the current political scene, what he sees is a herd of elected officials, both legislators and executives, who seem far more concerned with their own job security than with serving the people who elected them.

Among current office holders and candidates, he sees politicians pretending to stand on principle while, in fact, pandering to their bases; flip-flopping on issues, not because of new information, but because of new polls; and criticizing rivals for actions they would have praised if done by allies. While not at all shy about singling out Republicans like Scott Walker, Eric Cantor, and Mitch McConnell, Rendell has no trouble taking on Democrats who refuse to stand up to the teachers' unions or distance themselves from allies who run into trouble. Other politicians might have left out of their memoirs stories like what happened to their plaque in the park, the story of Swifty the five-legged donkey, a dirty Al Gore joke, the time they considered pretending to faint, and who they're already supporting for president in 2016. Luckily for readers, Ed Rendell is not that kind of politician. Complete with a scathing list of the "Top Ten Reasons Why Most American Politicians Are Wusses" and packed with uproarious tales of politicians in action that will make you wonder why these folks keep getting elected, you might have to go back to Ulysses S. Grant to find a politician with a book as lively and honest as A Nation of Wusses.

From the Back Cover

Praise for A Nation of Wusses

"Ed Rendell is one of the more refreshing and insightful voices in the conversation around American politics. He is a rare breed who tells the truth even when it doesn't support his agenda. This book is a clever, intelligent, and entertaining retrospective on his life in politics featuring many of the characters he met along the way."
—Sean Hannity

"Ed Rendell gives us more than a political memoir—his book is a fun, funny, and authentic account of a life spent in government, and a no-holds-barred argument for bold leadership in America."
—President Bill Clinton

"Ed Rendell's book is just like Ed Rendell—unflinching, funny, heartfelt, hopeful. It is why he was the country's most dynamic politician when in office. It is why you should read this book if you care about America."
—Buzz Bissinger

"Ed Rendell has written a very funny book about his life in politics and his passion for sports. No matter what someone's political affiliation is, I think people will be entertained by this book."
—Charlie Manuel

"Ed Rendell's book is big-city politics at its best. It's got the roar of the El, the stale cigar smoke of City Hall. Rendell writes with hoagie on his breath—or was that a Philly cheesesteak? It's The Last Hurrah for the twenty-first century."
—Chris Matthews

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: John Wiley and Sons; 1st edition (June 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1118279050
  • ISBN-13: 978-1118279052
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.5 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #190,957 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
22 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Effective Leadership June 19, 2012
By R. Bono
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Today our two political camps are facing each other over a battlefield, over the issue of government. There are so many Rs ready and willing to destroy government, rather than make it effective and worthy of respect. Ed Rendell, former Mayor of Philadelphia and Governor of Pennsylvania, has demonstrated...well chronicled in his book...how one man can negotiate with unions; increase efficiencies; empower highly competent people to help him turn the narrative into a productive one for all citizens. In a real sense, Rendell respects the dignity of all the people in their common desire for good government. He did the job of fixing budgets, and realigning and streamlining government structure so it becomes effective and smart...and most of all something about which citizens can be proud.

This is a Democratic example of how to do make it happen. There are, and will be Republican examples as well. I won't hold my breath for any new era of bi-partisanship, but it's well to note for any R readers, that Sean Hannity was able to give this book a strong endorsement, but more importantly, an endorsement to Rendell's fiscal policy successes in Philadelphia and Harrisburg.

But before any such hopes can germinate, according to Rendell, it's necessary to get off the self-destructive idea that government itself is evil, when it's often just incompetent, unimaginative, and suffering from lack of true leadership. Once this corner is turned, then Rendell's example of mustering the courage to achieve great things...what too many assume simply can't be done...CAN be made to happen.

Ed Rendell is an example of what's needed all over America: honest and forthright public servants, who believe in the proper role of government and truly want to make it succeed.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Self Promotion at its Finest November 11, 2012
In war, the people with the guts are the ones actually charging the enemy machine gun nest, not the general sitting behind a desk that orders the attack. Ed Rendell sometimes forgets that when describing various times he thinks he was gutsy. One of the stories he tells in order to demonstrate that he is not a wuss is when he forced the public unions to take benefit cuts in order to cut costs when he was mayor. Now if this took place fifty years ago when unions were very strong, that might mean something. But in today's world when so many political leaders attack unions, Ed is just part of the crowd. Cutting other people's wages may not be easy, but like the general that sends other people into battle, it hardly takes guts. Now if he wrote about cutting his own salary and benefits, that might be different. But he suffers no personal sacrifice, so what is it about this episode that is so gutsy? Other chapters bring back that same question over and over. By the end, we know Ed Rendell is just another self-promoting politician and a full-fledged citizen of Wuss Nation. Read the book, but look elsewhere for a politician who really has guts. For example, the Keller, Texas city manager who had to cut costs and so decided to lay himself off. Now that guy was no wuss!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars What it is and what it isn't. August 10, 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
If you are looking for a book that takes an academic perspective on local,state and national politics, this is not it. If you want to read about a career in politics at all three levels of government, you will enjoy this book. Rendell offers his personal insights into the mechanics of getting things done in a political world. He offers anecdotal examples of what worked for him and why those ideas can work for other politicians. This book does not pretend to be anything more than one man's take on what is lacking in political leadership today and what he believes can be done to make things better for America.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
As I said, former Gov. Ed Rendell and I do not agree on everything but we do look at most things in a forthright and unabashed manner. Regardless of your politics, this is an entertaining and thought-provoking read that I recommend to anybody who enjoys political discussion.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not what I expected September 27, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I expected more examples of how we have become a nation of wusses. Most of the books seems to be the author bragging about his accomplishments. This was purchased after seeing an interview with him on TV. I think he could have cut out some of his self-promotion and focused more on how we have become a nation of wusses and how we can overcome it.
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18 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Love the Gov June 7, 2012
Quick and great read! We are becoming a nation of wusses and the Gov isn't afraid to call us all out on it. Takes on the NFL, NRA, and politicians all over the country. Makes me think about politicians and their goals in office in a new light. Fun stories, straight taking, and my favorite -- a top 10 list.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars I like Ed Rendell, but this book is terrible September 27, 2012
First of all, the book doesn't live up to its title. It wasn't about what I thought it was going to be about, which was an expose of American politicians failing to have the courage of their convictions. Rendell does get to this toward the end of the book, but the bulk of the book is sheer self-promotion, an endless (even thought this is a relatively short book) adulatory rendering of the political career of--guess who?--Ed Rendell.

Who was the greatest District Attorney in Philadelphia history? Ed Rendell. Who was Philadelphia's greatest mayor? Ed Rendell. Who was Pennsylvania's greatest governor? Ed Rendell. The reason this shameless self-promotion is palatable is because much of it is true. Rendell did have the courage to clean up the corruption-plagued Philadelphia District Attorney's office, to bring in additional Assistant DAs and put an end to the shameful plea bargaining which had been taking place under his predecessor, thus allowing violent career criminals to receive light sentences, and subsequently prosecute them to the full extent of the law. As Mayor, Rendell was able to take on the unions, clean up Philadelphia's fiscal mess, and save the city from bankruptcy. He also had similar successes as Governor, but by the time I got to that part of the book I was so bored by the endless statistics Rendell was citing that I started nodding off.

The book would have been much better, and lived up to its title, if Rendell had focused on and expanded the issues he covered in the last part of the book, namely the utter failure of the nation's politicians to take the unpopular steps necessary to solve, or at least begin to solve, the nation's fiscal crisis. Rendell makes it clear that some iss ues are worth losing over, and that unless politicians are willing to do this, the situation will only become worse. Perhaps Rendell can expand on this and make it the topic of his next book.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Guts, Gumption, and Governing
You don't find those words used together very often anymore. Governor Ed Rendell reminds us that the Can-Do Spirit of America doesn't have to be a bygone relic of nostalgia, but... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Tim Ogline
2.0 out of 5 stars Turned off by the attitude of the writer.
I thought this book was going to be really funny and a great read. Turned out it was boring after the first few chapters. I loved the title very much.
Published 8 months ago by Janet M. Cooney
5.0 out of 5 stars Must read about how politics and governing work in Philadelphia
Having grown up professionally during the period in Philadelphia described by "America's Mayor" (a favorite DA and Governor too), I found this book to be a wonderful conversational... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Andrea G. Foulkes
3.0 out of 5 stars Ed Rendell Has Been A Busy Man
I have always appreciated Rendell's straightforwardness; it's refreshing in his business to find someone like him. Read more
Published 12 months ago by frankh
1.0 out of 5 stars It takes a Wuss to know a Wuss....
The title is very revealing about Mr. Rendell's win at all costs actions while in office and workings behind doors for the Democratic Party. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Gregory J. McQuaide
5.0 out of 5 stars Great product
Purchased the book for a holiday gift. Great product. I highly recommend it. It's a very good read. buy it
Published 16 months ago by kilroysj
5.0 out of 5 stars This book is one of the best political books I have ever read.
As a governor he was great. Reading this book gives great instight to how he operated as governor and how he did what was good for the state. Read more
Published 17 months ago by iloveny
3.0 out of 5 stars Good at first, but then repetitive
The first third is really fun to read. But then it is like he's reaching trying to find more examples to repeat what he covered already in the first third. Read more
Published 18 months ago by David N. Thielen
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic!
I admire Governor Rendell's honesty about the state of our nation. We have become a Nation of Wusses! He is smart, strong and honest. I wish he would run for President. Read more
Published 18 months ago by ATL Girl
5.0 out of 5 stars governor/mayor/d.a.shares policy and politics experience.
Governor Rendel's legacy is a meaningfull contribution to the public appreciation of a succesfull politicians contribution to his vast constituency by sharing his experience... Read more
Published 19 months ago by Matthew L. Lifflander
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