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Shooting from the Lip: The Life of Senator Al Simpson Hardcover – September 15, 2011

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Editorial Reviews


“Al Simpson’s been likened to a bull in a china shop. That’s not fair. Al’s much louder. And unlike that bull, Al’s cleaning up after other people’s messes! I call him a very fair and balanced critic: he bashes everyone and coddles no one. No wonder both sides love to rip him. He gets under their skin, and reading Shooting from the Lip, you quickly discover that not only has Al built a remarkable career on this ability but our nation is sure as hell the better for it!”—Neil Cavuto, News Anchor and Managing Editor, Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network

"Al Simpson was a Senator with the right touch. Because of his integrity and his humor, he had many friends in the United States Senate—deservedly so."—George H. W. Bush, 41st President of the United States

“Al Simpson is an American original. Among the many important events recounted in Donald Loren Hardy’s lively biography are gems from Simpson’s close friendship with Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush, which reveal as much about Al as they do about the presidents—that he is altogether without pretension, honest, never boring, and always good-hearted.”—David McCullough, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of John Adams

“Don Hardy has captured every mood, idiosyncrasy, beauty spot, and wart of this great American. The wonderful friendship between Al Simpson and me and our strong respect and love for each other are not based on our thinking alike on every political issue, but on our respect for the public policy–setting process, our advocacy for preserving the liberties and freedoms for which others have given their lives, and our belief in the opportunities this great country offers. This book is about a warm, wonderful person who has devoted his life to straight talk, unabashed patriotism, and a willingness to work “across the aisle” to make this a more perfect Union.”—Norman Y. Mineta, former United States Secretary of Transportation and Secretary of Commerce

“This lively biography of Al Simpson brilliantly captures a man as wide open and free-spirited as the West itself. Shooting from the Lip is refreshingly funny and irreverent—and never more timely than now, when the nation is once again turning to Simpson for straight talk about government spending.” Andrea Mitchell Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent, NBC News.

Shooting from the Lip: The Life of Senator Al Simpson is a biography that draws directly from the extensive, nineteen-volume journal that Senator Alan K. Simpson of Wyoming elected to keep shortly before he was elected to the post of majority whip. Colorful anecdotes and testimony of those who knew the senator best supports this excellent reconstruction of a strong-willed leader. Al Simpson himself gave Donald Loren Hardy full editorial control and a mandate to tell the complete, unvarnished truth. Shooting from the Lip especially scrutinizes Simpson's role in critical events such as the Iran-Contra scandal. Al Simpson's charisma, expertise, and talent for using humor as well as reason to drive home a point distinguish his political career. Shooting from the Lip is an excellent and engaging true story and a welcome addition to college and public library political biography shelves-Midwest Book Review.

From the Author

It took six years to write this book, partially because of the massive amount of material already written about him, but also because I have exclusive access to his 6,000 page private diary.  Written in exacting detail, he carefully logged events in power centers of America and the world during his decade as a Senate leader.

I also had exclusive access to everything else covering the entirety of Simpson's life -- both private and public. Although he didn't write a word of this book and had no editorial control, he cooperated fully.

At one point my draft exceeded 1,000 pages. Cutting it back was painful. The outtakes alone provide a fascinating look at early Wyoming life.

This book is the "no holds barred" story of a fascinating man. He will never authorize another biography.. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 460 pages
  • Publisher: University of Oklahoma Press (September 15, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0806142111
  • ISBN-13: 978-0806142111
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.3 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,084,405 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

After graduating from high school in Cody, Wyoming, Donald Hardy served in the U.S. Navy overseas, attended college on a music scholarship (trumpet), and then became a radio and television reporter in Wyoming, graduating in 1975 to a television news directorship in Montana.

After Wyoming's Al Simpson was elected to the U.S. Senate, Hardy moved to Washington as his press secretary and later became chief of staff, in charge of the Senator's official and political activities and staff in Washington and Wyoming.

Simpson and Hardy, who have known each other a half-century, worked together for three Senate terms (18 years) before Simpson retired and Hardy was named director of government affairs at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington. In late 1999, Hardy retired to engage in humanitarian efforts overseas with his wife, Rebecca. The two were aboard their sailboat/home in 2005 when contacted by Simpson about writing his authorized biography.

Simpson granted Hardy exclusive and unrestricted access to his massive private diary, his lifetime collection of personal papers and documents, and every aspect of his personal life. Although Simpson had no editoral control as the book was being written, he did fact check the final draft of "Shooting From The Lip: The Life of Senator Al Simpson," and said, "This book is the true me. It is the only written account of my life that I have ever authorized - or ever will."

Donald and Rebecca Hardy live in Red Lodge, Montana.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By MargoJ on August 28, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I just finished reading this book at 10:30 pm. on a Saturday night. I have to say I'm very disappointed---Disappointed that the book is over I mean! Disappointed that we don't have more Alan K Simpsons in Washington today-This book should be required reading for anyone even considering running for office and for all elected officials. For the rest of us -- something to give us hope that one can reach across party lines without selling his/her soul, that compromise and respectful dialogue really can occur in Washington. Senator Simpson's story makes us realize that true friends appreciate your integrity even if they disagree with your position. The book is filled with humor, compassion, sadness, victory, loss, and above all- integrety, and steadfast determination -- The book was fabulous- I laughed (belly laughed even)way more than once and cried even more. It was thrilling for me to feel like a fly on the wall of such intimate and important events in our country's history. After finishing the book I went to bed holding on to my new favorite quote from a Senator Simpson: "If you have integrity, nothing else matters. If you don't have integrity, nothing else matters"- thank you Mr. Hardy for your literary integrity and thank you Senator Simpson for yours!!
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Mitzi Vorachek on August 27, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Don Hardy's biography of former Senator Alan Simpson may have been approved by Simpson, but Hardy gets at not just the laudatory and significant accomplishments of Simpson, but also the warts. At this time of legislative and personal gridlock in Washington, "Shooting from the Lip" is a reminder that it has not always been so. There actually was a time conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats could meet, talk, compromise, legislate and be friends. Simpson was a story-teller in his journals, and author Don Hardy makes wonderful use of these materials. The book is a page-turner.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Brin Luther on August 26, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Living in this time of political grandstanding and ideological gridlock, reading this book renewed my belief in the true spirit of democracy shown by the life of Senator Simpson. I opened the book and started to read and the next thing I knew, I had finished the book. Along the way, I laughed and gasped again and again. Senator Simpson is of course a true original in the cast of American politicians. This book is original too. You feel like you are in the room with the Senator as he has progresses through his life along with his family, friends, and everyone else involved.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Chuck Shenk on August 16, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I don't care what your personal political passions are, if you have an open mind you are going to love this book. It is the story of an exceptional politician (from a time when they weren't quite so rare), sincere family man, and best friend to presidents, senators, and non-politicians. The book relies heavily on Senator Simpson's epic-length, tell-all diary that contains stories rich in humor, anger, trials, tribulations, and friendships, and is set largely during his leadership years in the US Senate. It is a warts and all telling of the issues facing the nation, and Simpson personally, and is never boring. The book is not a detailed portrayal of legislation, but is rather a passionate look at how this distinctive individual, who always speaks his mind, fights for what he believes in while stepping on more media and political toes than most politicians would ever dare to. In general he is admired by those he's fought the biggest battles with, but there are plenty of regrets along the way. Today's politicians in Congress could learn a lot from Simpson about the value of friendships in getting things done. The book is well-written, entertaining, and you'll pick up some great jokes along the way.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Odysseus on September 8, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Don Hardy's book, "Shooting from the Lip," is aptly titled. It tells the life story of former Senator Alan K. Simpson, perhaps the most unguarded man in recent decades to rise to political prominence. So uncensored was the flow of honest thought from the Senator's iconoclastic mind to his mouth that one wonders whether he could have achieved the same success in the Youtube age -- where every provocative comment is recorded, remixed, and flogged until the offender is permanently marginalized. Our political system is much the poorer now for lacking such originality.
Disclosure first: I used to work for Senator Simpson and still hold an abiding respect, indeed a great affection and sense of gratitude, for the man. To even further discredit my objectivity, I should also disclose that I also reported to the book's author, for whom I have similar feelings of respect and friendship. So if you conclude that I am not the most objective reviewer of this book, you are quite correct.
Let me try nevertheless to explain why this book is worth reading. First, if you have any connection to the life and work of Alan Simpson, this book almost certainly gives a more accurate flavor of his career than anything previously put to print. Written with the aid of Simpson's diaries, the book evokes how he thought, the issues and experiences that shaped his career, the tempo of his daily life, and his unique way of expressing himself. It's all here, from the momentous - the great legislative issues and political events - down to the mundane - including the "pecan incident" long known to Simpson staff, now preserved for posterity on page 52.
Simpson never lost his sense of wonder over the miracle of modern democracy.
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