From Publishers Weekly
Most Americans only know Senator Hatch, Republican of Utah, from his role in the infamous Clarence Thomas hearings or from his brief, quixotic run for president in 2000. But Hatch has long been one of the most powerful and least understood characters in Congress. He's a prolife politician who supports stem cell research; he's a good friend of Ted Kennedy but an ardent opponent of Bill Clinton. Hatch explores these apparent inconsistencies and raises a few more in this earnest and enjoyable memoir of his years in public life. Hatch was first elected to the Senate in 1976, on the strength of an endorsement from Republican juggernaut Ronald Reagan; just two years later, he outfoxed the legendary Robert Byrd to defeat a critical labor bill; throughout the 1980s, he worked as floor manager during the balanced-budget fights. Unfortunately, Hatch fails to turn maneuverings on the Senate floor into high drama. More compelling is his account of the Clarence Thomas-Anita Hill fiasco, when he worked mightily to confirm Thomas to the Supreme Court, and he devotes a hefty portion of the book to explaining why. This account may not change any minds about Thomas, but it may change some minds about Hatch, who argues that he didn't deserve the reputation he earned as a woman-hating inquisitor; despite popular belief, Hatch never directly asked Hill any questions. In the end, Hatch comes off as warmhearted, committed and self-effacing. Graced with observant quips ("Some politicians are like water-they always take the path of least resistance"), this book is a fine, though small, addition to legislative autobiography, one that should be popular in D.C. and with Hatch's Utah constituents.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Hatch, a fixture in Washington's Sunday-morning ritual of televised political badinage, reviews his career and mixes anecdotes with explanations of the folkways of the Senate, which he has been a member of since 1977. Elected, in his view, to stop an American brand of socialism, Hatch describes his use that year of the Senate's custom of the filibuster to defeat a labor bill championed by Democrats and the AFL-CIO. As a parliamentary maneuver, that was no mean feat for a rookie member of the minority party, but interest in this technical (albeit crucial) side of senatorial politics probably does not run deep. His war stories, on the other hand, will grab attention, and Hatch's selective offering reflects his high visibility in such fracases as the Robert Bork and Clarence Thomas nominations, and in the impeachment saga of President Clinton. If his role in those dramas soured liberals, conservative senators have been annoyed by his deal-cutting with liberal Democrats such as Henry Waxman and Edward Kennedy. Although most politicians' memoirs are ephemeral, they often generate requests, especially in their home states (Hatch's is Utah). Gilbert TaylorCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved