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Speaker: Lessons from Forty Years in Coaching and Politics Hardcover – August 1, 2004


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Regnery Publishing; First Edition edition (August 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 089526126X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0895261267
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.4 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,202,509 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

Mr. Speaker!

Denny Hastert is one of the most powerful men in America-and yet chances are you know little or nothing about him. And Denny Hastert likes it that way. Not because he has anything to hide, but because he doesn't care about who gets the credit, he just wants to get the job done for the American people.

In Speaker: Lessons from 30 Years of Coaching and Politics, Denny Hastert breaks his silence to tell a remarkable American story: of how he grew up among the fields of Northern Illinois, made a name for himself as a high school and collegiate wrestler, became a high school wrestling and football coach and civics teacher...and eventually found himself teaching, and learning about, civics in the most important forum in the world: in the United States Congress as Speaker of the House, the third most powerful man in government. Speaker is a true Mr. Smith Goes to Washington story, full of lived-in wisdom, funny anecdotes, and straight talk about what goes on in the "smoke-filled" rooms of congressional power. Along the way, you'll learn: * The secret of winning in politics: under-promise and over-produce (the reverse of what most politicians do) * The Hastert formula: Build a team, leave the spotlight to others, be honest, be fair, and stick to your objectives as tenaciously as a fullback hammering at the goal line * Lessons from wrestling: there's no one to blame but yourself if you get pinned * The shock of September 11-or actually, the non-shock: how Speaker Hastert kept Congress running smoothly during the crisis * How the Vatican could never find time to receive the Congressional Medal of Freedom that was voted for the pope-until it became clear that then-President Clinton would not be awarding it * Speaker Hastert's agenda for the next Congress Denny Hastert grew up in the back of a feed truck and still remembers, fondly, a boyhood spent of hard work and high dreams, of harvesting hay and of living in a state of upstanding, well-meaning people. That same sort of down home grit and determination, idealism, and belief in the goodness of America makes Speaker one of the most refreshing, enjoyable, and enlightening political books of the year.

About the Author

J. Dennis Hastert has been Speaker of the House since 1999 and has served in Congress since 1986. A former member of the Illinois House of Representatives and for sixteen years a teacher and coach at Yorkville High School, Hastert divides his time between Washington, D.C., and Yorkville, Illinois, with his wife Jean.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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See all 9 customer reviews
Well, it's a very hard book to put down.
M. L Lamendola
His book is a quick read--despite its 300 pages, I read it in just two nights--and his story is worthwhile.
E. Johnson
Good book, good read, good insight into what is going on in Washington today.
Craig Matteson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By John Matlock on December 8, 2004
Format: Hardcover
The position of Speaker if the House of Representatives is an interesting one. It's a position very close to the top of the American Political System (Third in line to be the President). But it's not a position on which the country votes. Instead, some state selects a Congressman, and the Congress selects its leader. And generally speaking most of us who live outside his home state have never heard of the man.

Such was the case when Denny Hastert was given the position. And unlike some of his predecessors, he has not become a nationally known, or perhaps reknown is a better word, figure.

In this book, he talks about how he got to where he is: sixteen years as a government and history teacher at the high school in Yorkville, Illinois. In addition he coached football and wrestling, and sometimes drove the school bus.

He writes that the best training to become speaker of the house is to drive a school bus. "You're got to (1) keep the bus on the road, (2) keep your eye on the kids in the rear-view mirror, and (3) watch your back." As he says, "Hearding cats."

The toughest job: "teaching sixteen-year-old kids the basics of economics" was his original answer, now he says: "Teaching economics to some Members of Congress."

This book reads like a novel. It's too easy to say to yourself, "I'll read one more page before turning out the light." It leaves you with a better understanding that Congress is just people. People who have different ideas perhaps, but who have to work together to get anything done. It's quite a book.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By M. L Lamendola VINE VOICE on September 8, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I have an autographed copy of this book--Speaker Hastert signed it for me in a Kansas bookstore. As the Speaker is next in line after the Vice President to be President if--God forbid--something should happen to the President or Vice President, Speaker Hastert holds the third highest position in the federal government. I want to personally thank Jack DeWolfe and the others in the Speaker's security detail for letting us have time to talk.

Speaker Hastert and I grew up a short ride from each other (two of my cousins grew up just minutes from his childhood home). We were both wrestlers at one time in school. But, those are not the reasons why I like him so much.

Congressman Hastert is, unlike many of his peers, a man of integrity. He's also got a great deal of common sense and no delusions about himself. You can't help but respect him, and I would respect him if he were still working on a feed truck in a small Illinois town rather than holding the third highest position on Capitol Hill. He is that kind of man.

Talking to "Denny" (as he prefers to be called), you understand a few important things about the man:

*He's humble.

*He knows what he believes and why.

*He does not make excuses.

So, what about this book? Well, it's a very hard book to put down. You find yourself glancing at the clock and saying, "OK, just one more page."

Denny is candid and honest. Unlike Bill Clinton, he did not write a bloated, self-aggrandizing tome of excuses for failure and try to make it sound like success. Instead, he speaks from the heart and engages you. Oddly, though the book is about him, it isn't about him. And neither is the way he's conducted himself in public office.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By E. Johnson on August 17, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Denny Hastert is not a name most people would recognize in the world of politics. And he says that's the way he likes it. We had a chance to meet Speaker Hastert at the Reagan Library, and though we didn't get a chance to speak, he was extremely cordial. His book is a quick read--despite its 300 pages, I read it in just two nights--and his story is worthwhile. I appreciate the fact that he has not forgotten his roots, and I was amazed that his wife continued her teaching career despite her husband's rise to power. The Speaker's remembrance of his teaching and coaching career--he even mentions his wrestling team's state championship in 1976 on the book's dedication page--make it clear that politics was not what he ever intended to make a career in. In fact, this was a man who not only coached and taught but drove a school bus, for Pete's sake!

As a private school educator myself, I felt a special kinship to him; now that I know him better, I feel I will better understand the situation he faces in the dog-eat-dog political world of Washington, D.C. One final comment. If nothing else, this book confirmed to me that our national political system is filled with holes, especially in the colloboration between the two main parties. The tricks played by the parties--and I have to say, most of the blame appears to lie at the feet of the Democrats--just to make the other side look bad is, in reality, bad for America. What can we do? Vote those who are the rascals out and get some work done. Let's cooperate, people, and quit with the individual agendas that single out special interests.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Mark Hammil on August 5, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This was a fantastically fast read. I really enjoy learning about Washington and politics and Denny Hastert seems to be your every day kind of guy who has inside access to real power in Washington. His September 11 story is worth the price of the book alone but the story about how an average school teacher turned Speaker of the U.S. House almost became President of the United States is unreal. HOW COME NO ONE KNEW THIS?!!?!

Amazing. Gotta read this one.
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