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A Reason to Believe: Lessons from an Improbable Life Hardcover – April 12, 2011

4.4 out of 5 stars 40 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“[A Reason to Believe] . . . introduces Patrick to a national audience as an inspirational figure guided by optimism and hope who presaged the rise of President Obama.”
–The Boston Globe

Patrick shows himself here to be a gifted writer. Especially engrossing are the early pages on his childhood—he summons forth all the senses as he describes 1950s–60s South Side Chicago...Patrick presents his triumphs here as victories over his own weaknesses. His writings about his wife, Diane, are particularly touching. VERDICT Recommended to readers of memoir and to all keeping an eye on our country’s past and future. –Library Journal

“Governor Patrick’s compelling story is a reminder that no matter how unlikely a child’s future chances might seem on paper, sometimes access to the right opportunities is all it takes to allow the enormous talent and potential that is already there to thrive.  A Reason to Believe is rich with the lessons Deval Patrick has learned along his journey.” 
-Marian Wright Edelman, President, Children’s Defense Fund

“Patrick gives powerful voice to the reflective inner man who has a keen eye for things that really matter…A welcome celebration of idealism in a cynical time.”Kirkus Reviews

“Patrick pays specific and warm tribute to those who helped him, from Chicago public school teachers and elite boarding school masters to families and individuals who gave him shelter, support, and assistance in Africa to an assortment of family, friends, and strangers who encouraged and assisted him, fortifying his sense of social justice, faith, and idealism.”–Booklist

“This remarkable, uplifting memoir is powerful evidence that the American dream still exists. Patrick tells his extraordinary life story with eloquence, grace, and humor, moving skillfully from start to finish between a child’s tender voice and an adult’s perspective.” —Doris Kearns Goodwin, Pulitzer Prize–winning historian and author of Team of Rivals
“This fascinating story represents a testament against the self-fulfilling cynicism that increasingly infects the American view of American politics—a testament against stupidity, a testament for honorable public service.” —Tracy Kidder, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Strength in What Remains and Mountains Beyond Mountains
“As the first black governor of Massachusetts, and as only the second African American to be elected governor in the United States, Deval Patrick is a history-making, pathbreaking figure in our state and national life. With a tremendous record of accomplishment personally, professionally, and politically, he has reason to be immodest! But what we hear instead in this moving account of this good man’s life is a voice of reason and moderation. In these turbulent times, Patrick provides us with a model of public service and a public spirit. He is an inspiration to all of us, on both sides of the aisle.” —Henry Louis Gates Jr., Alphonse Fletcher University Professor, Harvard University
“There is no more inspiring story—or more compelling storyteller—in American politics today than Deval Patrick. And in this moving memoir, he shares the lesson of a life well lived: Hope for the best, and work for it.” —David Axelrod
“I met Deval Patrick in the Spring of 1980 at Harvard Law School. I realized quickly that he was a remarkable person—confident, compassionate, and a wonderful listener. He combined a youthful energy with a sense of wisdom and balance that belied his youth. A Reason to Believe describes the unique set of experiences—both difficult and uplifting—that have forged this important and historic public servant. Governor Patrick’s book offers hope to anyone that adversity can be overcome and pain turned into perspective. It also provides a clear-eyed defense of idealism that is rooted in a basic value—everyone has something important to offer the world and the responsibility to do so.” —Tim Kaine, chairman of the Democratic National Committee

About the Author

Governor Deval Patrick was born in Chicago in 1956. After junior high school, he received a scholarship to attend Milton Academy in Massachusetts, and from there he graduated from Harvard College and Harvard Law School. He has worked as an attorney for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and was later appointed, by President Clinton, as the assistant attorney general for civil rights. Governor Patrick has also been general counsel at Texaco and Coca-Cola. In 2010, he began his second term as governor of Massachusetts.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway Books (April 12, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0767931122
  • ISBN-13: 978-0767931120
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #389,956 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Kevin L. Nenstiel TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 28, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Governor Patrick's quintessential Horatio Alger story qualifies him as a genuine embodiment of America's best virtues. Raised by a single mother in Chicago's storied south side, his natural gifts and hearty determination led him through an elite education to a career fighting for those who can't fight for themselves. Moving from activism, to government, to corporate life, to elective office, he has kept his composure while fighting for his beliefs.

This memoir smacks a bit of a political autobiography; betcha the Governor plans to run for Senate in 2012. But considering what snoozers most political autobiographies are, Patrick infuses his with energy and humor. He doesn't blush to admit he didn't like his father growing up, and that he struggled to keep one foot in his heritage while studying in prestigious East Coast schools. He doesn't make himself a saint.

I wish Patrick added certain details in his life. For instance, he mentions first meeting Bill Clinton when they squared off during a lawsuit. What was it, and how did they reconcile? But he never mentions the incident again. Similarly, he discusses deceased parents and mentors in greater detail than living family and colleagues. His past is very detailed, his present more vague. Whose toes is he avoiding treading on?

But that's the genre. Patrick is selling his life lessons for true believers, not writing a celebrity tell-all. Despite genre limitations, I found myself eagerly devouring this book. Patrick tells a lively, spirited story, making his accomplishments sing while keeping himself at human scale. You could imagine yourself sitting down to coffee with him, sharing stories of life accomplishments and goals. I bet you'd be glad for that cuppa, too.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Patrick's autobiography, "A Reason to Believe," is more engaging than most of the genre. While he was inclined to do well academically, his growing up in Chicago's South Side to a poverty-line family wouldn't point to a foundation for future success. His parents divorced early in his life, and he was raised by emotionally distant parents and grandparents. Yet his stunning success as an individual reaffirms the American dream.

Deval Patrick's life journey also provides more proof that the love and support of family and friends is indispensable to a child's future. Patrick's mother worked herself to the bone to put her children through summer camps and prep schools, and perceptive teachers picked up on the bright possibilities of a young man growing up in the wrong part of Chicago. The lessons taken from Patrick's younger years have permanently imbued him with a deep sense of social justice and a desire to leave the world a better place than when he first found it.

These themes recur throughout "A Reason to Believe." The current Massachusetts governor recounts defending Civil Rights Era activists from trumped up charges and calling to voters' higher aspirations in a gubernatorial campaign that served as the prototype for Obama's 2008 campaign. Patrick's story of a life many would have dismissed as improbable, with its many disappointments, heartbreaks and successes, is as American as any other.
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I am skeptical of books by politicians. Most of them aren't memoirs at all but transparently cynical attempts to promote either of the party's beliefs. (If something has HEART or AMERICA in the title - run the other way). But Deval Patrick's memoir is something altogether different - meaning it is a truly heartfelt, American story implicitly, not explicitly. In only 200-plus pages, he reflects on a journey that took him from the South Side of Chicago to Milton Academy, a prep school outside of Boston, and then onto Harvard, government, the private sector, before he launched his successful run for the Massachusetts governorship (he is in his second term now).

Why would I care? I don't even live in Massachusetts! And i don't know much of anything about the governor's record on this or that. Doesn't matter. What Governor Patrick does here most "real" writers would be jealous of: he writes simply and passionately about the people who have helped him along the way - whether it was the teacher who identified his gifts early on in school - to the mentors who helped him along his way in high school and in college and in later life. Everyone I know had SOMEONE who gave them a leg up at a certain point in their lives. Patrick admits he was fortunate enough to have had several. Patrick's recollections of them - of the people who had no idea at the time that they were creating a life this amazing - are moving. As is this book.

This is a book about taking advantage of chance when it crosses your path - about living many lives in only 5 decades - about a rare individual who wants to do good and to change our culture for the better. It is no wonder he and President Obama are close friends. Both men are change agents who believe in hope. I would recommend this book HIGHLY to anyone....
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This was a great read. It was informative, but you can tell a politian with an eye on another run wrote the book. Although a lot of personal info is in the book, I thought he may have held back in some views, but perhaps a book about his political life will be in a memoir in a few years.
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