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Terry: My Daughter's Life-and-Death Struggle with Alcoholism Paperback – August 1, 1997


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Plume (August 1, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0452278236
  • ISBN-13: 978-0452278233
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.6 x 7.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #147,466 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

George McGovern, the 1972 Democratic nominee for President, offers a tragic family drama while confronting the choices of his own life in this story of a daughter's fatal fight with alcoholism. Told in direct prose, the tale is a harrowing one. Teresa Jane McGovern, the middle child of five, began drinking at age 13, was hospitalized for depression after her arrest for smoking pot at age 19, cleaned up for a while in her 30s, but then spiraled out of control until she froze to death in a parking lot after a drinking binge. Her father openly examines his role and the causes of his daughter's demise. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

The former Democratic senator from South Dakota here presents a memorial service for his alcoholic daughter, Terry, who froze to death on the streets of Madison, Wisc., one pre-Christmas night in 1994. Other such books have been more felicitously written but few as heart-wrenchingly, as we hear about Terry's troubled life from her family (three sisters and a brother who is a recovering alcoholic), friends, doctors and police. The onetime presidential candidate's daughter began drinking at 13; at 15 she had an abortion, arranged by her father although the procedure was then illegal. Terry, who continued drinking, was arrested for possessing pot in 1968, a charge carrying a mandatory five-year sentence she beat (thanks to her father's lawyers) on a technicality involving the search warrant. She left college to spend more than four years in daily psychoanalysis following six months in a locked psychiatric ward. Although as one doctor noted, Terry was "an awfully tough case," in 1980, when she was 31, her life seemed salvageable; at that time she embarked on what proved to be eight years of sobriety, during which she and her lover had two daughters. But her drinking, despite countless treatment programs, at private facilities and AA, would ultimately kill her. Her father, who discusses the high incidence of alcoholism among his forbears and has now dedicated himself to the cause, considers Terry's a possible genetic condition. His anguish is potent. Author tour.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

George McGovern served in the U.S. Senate for 18 years and was the 1972 Democratic candidate for president. He directed the first Food for Peace Program under former president John F. Kennedy. A decorated World War II bomber pilot (Distinguished Flying Cross), he holds a PhD in history from Northwestern University and is a former professor at Dakota Wesleyan University. He was named by former president Bill Clinton in 1997 as the U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organization. In 2000, he was awarded by Clinton the nation's highest honor, the Medal of Freedom. He divides his time among South Dakota, Montana, and Florida.

Customer Reviews

This book was an incredible read.
mommyofmax
I think this book is well worth reading for anyone with alcoholism in their family.
Ginny
This is a brave story for Senator McGovern and his family to tell.
katie ann

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 37 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 6, 1998
Format: Paperback
I read this book when it first came out. At the time I was suffering from depression and alcoholism. I wept as I read the pages because I knew that I too could end up like Terry. I felt for Terry and her family all through out the book. I also realized how my family must have felt and how they might feel if I too fell victim to myself and alcohol. You have to give credit to the courageouls George McGovern to share his families sacred secrets and tradgedy. This is a must have book for anyone who is an alcoholic, heavy drinker or depressed or anyone who knows or lives with an alcoholic or heavy drinker.
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32 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Chadwick H. Saxelid on November 21, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Former South Dakota senator, and one time Presidential hopeful, George McGovern relates the sad story of his daughter Terry, who's alcoholism finally killed her when she passed out in a snowfilled alley outside of a bar one cold December night. With an objective honest and insight into both his daughter and the nature of addiction, McGovern tells how him middle daughter grew up and became mired in an inescapable quicksand of addiction. Having recently lost my wife to the ravages of this disease (ironically this book was one of hers and one she quite enjoyed reading) I can relate to McGovern's feelings of anger, frustration, and helpless regret over how the disease warped both his daughter's spirit and mind. This book is an essential for anyone who has ever had to battle, or has a loved who battles, this wretched, life eating disease. Highest recommendation.
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Manola Sommerfeld on May 22, 2000
Format: Paperback
I heard George McGovern talking about this book on NPR when it first came out, but it wasn't till recently that i had a chance to read it. I thoroughly enjoyed it, because it gave me some insight on addiction that i did not have before. Sen. McGovern's intentions in writing this book are laudable, and i have a lot of respect for him. I can only imagine how painful it must have been to research the material (Terry's journals, social workers' reports, etc), and to actually write the book and go through those memories. He is sincere and acknowledges his responsibility as a father, and does not try to place blame on alcohol, society, or many of the other targets of anti-abuse groups. Terry might as well have been born with CF, because she suffered from (in her case) an incurable disease. If you want to understand the incredible power of addiction, this book is a great place to start.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By S_boon on August 4, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This story holds a grip on me that I can't get over. Maybe I am like George McGovern myself in that I too can't explain what causes a beloved child in the family to grow up and self destruct. This story haunts me in that I am watching my own daughter at the age of 43 create similar suffering for every member of her family and friends who love her. I relate so strongly to the McGovern family on every page of this book, even to our own happy 50th wedding anniversary last year, that it frightens me based on Terry's tragic outcome just a year after the McGovern's celebrated their Golden Wedding Anniversary. At the same time, I am so grateful for McGovern's advice as to what he would have done differently, especially in the last several months of Terry's life. I just bought several books for family members, and one to donate to a Milwaukee area hospital Women's Pavillion library that has every subject covered but alcoholism! This book documents one of the most heart rending accounts of alcohol addiction that I could ever imagine. Your tears may stain these pages, but Terry is continuing to help others, like me as she did in life through the courages words of her father.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Einstein on June 14, 1998
Format: Paperback
First of all, my hat off to George McGovern for making this sad, personal tragedy public. Most families with a son or daughter who spiriled as far out of control as Terry did would try to bury the memory deep in guilt or shame. McGovern chooses to show us by example that, no matter how much money or expertise you throw at finding a solution to a killer problem, in some cases an answer always remains elusive, a mystery. The man tried nearly everything humanly possible to help save his child - nothing worked, all the highest paid experts failed. This story is every parent's nightmare. If I were an educator of high authority, I would make this book mandatory reading for every high school student in the United States to clearly show what kind of drug they are messing with in alcohol - it's not a pretty picture.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By mommyofmax on March 22, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book was an incredible read. I was riveted from page one. Terry McGovern's death was such a senseless one. It serves to remind me that not all alcoholic deaths are due to cirrhosis(sp?) Alcohol can claim lives in the strangest of ways. Terry McGovern stumbled out of a bar and fell into a bank of snow, freezing to death. I still am shaken up when I think of this.

George McGovern is a great writer but I gave the book 4 stars because his belief that he could have somehow prevented his daughter's death is unfathomable to me. I can't imagine what it must be like to lose a child, it must be the most painful thing in the world. This book feels like a catharsis for his grief and he expresses a lot of irrational thinking in his dealing with it. I don't think there's anything he could have done differently to prevent Terry's death and prolong her life. I'm sure it's little consolation to her parents but Terry is at peace now. I pray the family has come to grips with this tragedy in some way in the 10 years since Terry's passing.
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