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In Praise of Public Life Hardcover – February 17, 2000


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; First Edition edition (February 17, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684867745
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684867748
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 0.8 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,837,638 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

In Praise of Public Life, a slim book by Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, Democrat of Connecticut, succeeds at being several things: a call to public service, a plea for banishing cynicism from American politics, and a glimpse of what the life of a senator is like and how the Senate really works. Lieberman begins by complaining that today's public servant "must face questions not only about how he is doing his job but how he is living his life--and how he has lived his life." This poisonous atmosphere of ad hominem politics and attack-dog journalism has created an environment in which young people don't want to enter public life, writes Lieberman. He offers his own career as a tonic, describing the challenges and joys of working his way through the party ranks and achieving his dream of becoming a senator.

No book by an office-holding politician would be complete without its share of clichés ("It is leadership that the American public is asking for in its government today"), but Lieberman also offers some genuine insights for lay readers on how the Senate functions. Personal contacts are tremendously important to passing legislation, patience and persistence are perhaps a senator's two most useful character traits, and foreign trips (derided as "junkets" by the good-government crowd) represent one of the best opportunities to get to know colleagues (and therefore do business). The prose is breezy, making In Praise of Public Life an easy, quick, and welcome read. --John J. Miller

From Publishers Weekly

In this slender volume, the junior U.S. senator from Connecticut makes a heartfelt case that the ills of American society can be corrected by working within the current political system rather than by overhauling it. While acknowledging that the federal government is far from perfect, Lieberman contends that it has many more good people than bad and that the process succeeds more often than fails. During his two terms in office, Lieberman has staked out a position as a moderate Democrat, firmly embracing the title of "New Democrat" first articulated by Bill Clinton when he was governor of Arkansas. Through cooperation and compromise, Congress has supported the Clinton administration in passing a number of crucial pieces of legislation (e.g., the 1993 balanced budget, NAFTA and GATT trade agreements) that the senator believes have helped spur the country's record economic growth. Lieberman also contends that the entertainment industry has played a major role in the decline in America's moral values; the entertainment industry doesn't reflect social norms but rather shapes values and influences behavior, Lieberman argues, and steps need to be taken to make the major media outlets act more for the public good. With so many politicians writing about burnout and their frustrations with serving in elected office, it is refreshing to hear the point of view of someone who still finds politics a noble calling.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

38 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Menachem Genack on February 28, 2000
Format: Hardcover
In the context of the corrosive, angry political environment, with the "gotchya" media, which has bred disaffection in the body politic, Senator Joseph Lieberman's short volume is a refreshing antidote to the prevailing cynicism. "In Praise of Public Life" is an insightful, enjoyable, and at times inspiring book.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Larry Mark MyJewishBooksDotCom on August 8, 2000
Format: Hardcover
In 1996, only 49% of the eligible voters cast a vote in the Federal contests. Is it because of cynism and disinterest? In 1998, the Congressional elections garnered a 36.1% voter turnout. Lieberman would like to see that number increase, and supports election-day registrations at polling sites. Few desire to go into public service anymore when you can make gobs of dollars on the internet. Lieberman would like to see the best and brightest enter public service. He would also like to see a curb in violence and sexism in the products of the entertainment industry. This book is a quick read and the Senator's clarion call to public service. Lieberman is a man that the New Republic says has an independent mind and observes tradition. The Weekly Standard said he would be a good VP candidate. Senator Lieberman got the public service bug like many others, after hearing John F Kennedy's inaugural speech. (Of course, had the media been as intrusive in JFK's life as it has been in current office holders, JFK would be no hero to Lieberman). Lieberman wants cynicism banished from American politics. Lieberman begins by complaining that today's public servant "must face questions not only about how he is doing his job but how he is living his life--and how he has lived his life." "This poisonous atmosphere of attack-dog journalism has created an environment in which young people don't want to enter public life," writes Lieberman. He asks his Capitol Hill interns if they want to run for public office, and they respond that they do not want to live through the media's intrusive spotlight or raise the millions of dollars needed to mount a campaign. They don't want to give the time commitment to public office at the expense of having a family life.Read more ›
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Stephen Kurtz on August 17, 2000
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Joe Lieberman is a unique politician who sets out his vision in this well-written text. The tone of the book is easy to read blending his personal story with the background to the direction and policies that he is promoting.
The integrity of Joe Lieberman is unique and this book demonstrates why he is held in such high regard on both sides of the political debate.
Reading this book makes me know why Joe runs and inspires me to reach for higher public service. The highest praise for "In Praise"!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 22, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This is an enjoyable book to read. The candid conversation on politics by an experienced politician makes IN PRAISE OF PUBLIC LIFE an excellent reference book for anyone desiring to enter the field. The book also reflects the esteem that the author wants returned to the occupation of being a politician. Will we ever be able to find another politician to live up to the high regard we hold Washington, Jefferson, and Lincoln? We must always continue to hope.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Erin O. on August 15, 2000
Format: Hardcover
In the opening prologue of Senator Lieberman and co-author Michael D'Orso's book "In Praise of Public Life," Lieberman tells about a lunch that he had with his interns and how his interns described how disenchanted many of their classmates and cohorts are with public officials and public life. Lieberman further describes how this conversation motivated him to write this book, in defense of politics and public life. From this opening prologue I expected to read about the "success" stories of Lieberman and others in passing legislation, helping a constituent, or making sweeping changes that would motivate people into running for office.
Yet, this book is much more realistic, it provides the `real' spin on public life. Lieberman's style of writing draws upon many of his own experiences to aid in the understanding of what it takes to be a public official. From these examples Lieberman hopes that the reader will understand the sacrifices, long hours, partisanship, sacrifices of family and personal freedom required to live a life in public office. Lieberman further hopes that this book will motivate people to take a part in public life in varying degrees- from voting, contacting elected officers, or perhaps running for office. In all, this slim book is a decent read and very interesting in understanding a different side of politics.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Bernadette A. Moyer on August 9, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Picked this up months ago and reread upon hearing of Lieberman/Gore ticket! This is a man of substance, character and strong conviction.
Thinking of public service? You might find some inspiration here.
I am a registered Republican and yet there is no denying the strength and direction of this man. You also learn that he truly enjoys and respects his own role in the political arena.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Rabbi Yonassan Gershom VINE VOICE on January 4, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This book was written before Senator Lieberman's nomination for Vice President, and it remains a valuable read now that Election 2000 is over. Whether you're a Democrat, Republican, third party member, independent or undecided, this book has a great deal to recommend it. It should be required reading for anyone considering a career in politics, and for citizens who want an accessible account of what the life of a modern politican is like.
Senator Lieberman begins by explaining that "career politician" -- a term so often seen as negative -- does not have to mean someone who is entrenched in graft and dishonesty. Just as professionals in other fields have a responsibility to uphold the very best standards of their professions, so do politicians. Lieberman considers politics to be his chosen career, the same as a doctor, lawyer, teacher, or other professional. He strives to do his job with a strong sense of moral responsibility, fully aware that public life is, well, public. He writes: "I assume that everything I do in my life -- EVERYTHING -- could possibly become public and therefore I should not do anything privately that I could not justify publicly." (p. 51)
The Senator's arguments in favor of politics as a bona fide career also changed my own stance on term limits. Before reading this book, I thought term limits were a good idea, as a way to prevent bad politicians from becoming entrenched. But, as Senator Lieberman eloquently points out, running a country is a big responsibility that takes years of experience. Having a large portion of the Senate turn over every few years would be inefficent, because everybody would be relatively new to the job. Besides, Lieberman points out, we already have ways to remove bad politicians.
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