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The Prince of Tennessee: Al Gore Meets His Fate Hardcover – September 1, 2000

3.6 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

In the tradition of coauthor David Maraniss's Bill Clinton biography, First in His Class, this solidly researched portrait of Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore assumes readers' familiarity with his recent political activity. A scant 10 pages covers Gore's eight years as vice president, for instance; the rest concentrates instead on filling in the background. Maraniss and Ellen Nakashima both write for the Washington Post, which published portions of the book, and their journalistic experience shows in a readable narrative that smoothly integrates quotes from extensive interviews conducted with colleagues, friends, and the candidate himself. Persuasive detail and careful analysis thoroughly delineate Gore's personality: intelligent, competitive, driven to excel but not to please. Gore's oft-criticized stiffness and perceived coldness, the authors argue, come partly from a Southern formality inherited from his father, Albert Gore Sr., himself a staunch liberal whose bitter 1970 loss of his U.S. Senate seat convinced his son that it was wise not to get too far left of conservative Tennessee voters. Though a baby boomer, admitted former dope smoker, and firm environmentalist, Al Jr. emerges here as a natural moderate, comfortable working within the establishment. This conscientious chronicle of his life and career gives a good intimation of what kind of a president he'd be. --Wendy Smith

From Library Journal

Maraniss, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of First in His Class, the highly acclaimed biography of Bill Clinton, and coauthor Nakashima, both of the Washington Post, have written a timely and valuable biography of vice president and would-be president Al Gore. Stressing the impact of Gore's privileged upbringing in a Washington, DC, political family, the authors argue that "the child remains the father of the man. Many of the behavioral patterns of the figure who would run for president in 2000 are best explained by the boy he once was." The result, they argue, is a "duality" pitting the bold Gore against the subservient Gore. There is a "struggle within Al Gore" between his self-confidence and his insecurity. Surprisingly, the authors skate very quickly over Gore's vice presidential years, arguably the time when his "duality" would be most evident. This book may suffer by comparisons to First in His Class but is nonetheless an important contribution to our understanding of Al Gore and could profitably be read along with Bill Turque's Inventing Al Gore (LJ 3/15/00).
-AMichael A. Genovese, Loyola Marymount Univ., Los Angeles
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; 1st Touchstone ed edition (September 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743204115
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743204118
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 5.9 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,454,512 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

David Maraniss is an associate editor at The Washington Post. He is the winner of the 1993 Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting and has been a Pulitzer finalist two other times for his journalism and again for They Marched Into Sunlight, a book about Vietnam and the sixties. The author also of bestselling works on Bill Clinton, Vince Lombardi, and Roberto Clemente, Maraniss is a fellow of the Society of American Historians. He and his wife, Linda, live in Washington, DC, and Madison, Wisconsin.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on August 16, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Anyone who thinks Al Gore isn't a fascinating character study needs to read this book. David Maraniss and Ellen Nakashima bring him to life in vivid detail, probing deeply into the psyche of the man who may be our next president. This may not satisfy either fervent fans or rabid critics, but for the rest of us trying to understand what makes a candidate tick, "Prince of Tennessee" opens the door into Al Gore's private world. It's a compelling read.
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Format: Hardcover
This book leaves you with as many questions as answers. This fair, balanced, and well-written biography also shows just how complicated a man Al Gore really is.
The vice president's tendency to stretch the truth, we discover, is nothing new. The authors give some striking examples of this from his 1988 campaign for president when staffers had to write a memo telling him how often he is telling tall-tales. The one thread of the book that comes across clearly, is that Al Gore still lives with a deep insecurity and a very real need to please his late Father.
As I read the book, I was amazed how often my own feelings toward Al Gore would ride a wave only to crash, only to read on and catch another wave. The reason is simple: Al Gore is somewhat of a mystery man. There is a sense from the authors that he is not really secure in his true self or his positions on many issues. He is somewhat of an enigma to even those closest to him. Is he stiff and wooden, or is he a fun-loving guy who is different when the cameras go off? Is he a loyal-to-a-fault vice president, or a disgusted father who cringed at the Lewinsky scandal and wanted to distance himself? This book clearly raises as many questions about Al Gore as it answers. All the facts are here...born in Carthage, raised in two states, congressman, senator, etc. But if you hope by the end of the book that you will truly *know* Al Gore better than before, you might be a tad let down.
The authors leave little doubt as to the intelligence and abilities of Al Gore -- a qualified man, ready to be president. THE PRINCE OF TENNESSEE is a good read in this election year. Love him, hate him or undecided -- this book is a very good biography that is fair and balanced.
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Format: Hardcover
This book provides an excellent account of Al Gore's political and personal life, and is certainly not "fluffy" or "vicious," it is a piece of solid journalism on a difficult subject. This book will be helpful to me as I think about the options facing me at the voting booth.
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Format: Hardcover
The Prince of Tennessee is a very good biography, but not perfection like FIRST IN HIS CLASS. It is well researched, evenhanded,interesting, and insightful. Especially absorbing is the description of the Senior Al Gore and his wife Pauline. Al Gore's sister Nancy is covered in great detail also. The analysis of Gore's personality seems to be based on over 500 interviews and much research. I enjoyed the book immensely, wished it were much longer, but don't know if those not obsessed with politics to the degree I am will find it as fascinating.
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Format: Hardcover
Fearing the worst and expecting little, a pleasant surprise awaited me in these pages. Not junk-writing or caricature as in the Turque scrod "Inventing Al Gore", but as complex as the subject of Al Gore is, you find him in here. This author, David Maraniss, worked and investigated and created a real picture, not just a mockery of a man's life. The author claims some 500 interviews were conducted, and I believe him.
Albert Gore is a man who has always expected perfection in himself, and was never satisfied with much less. Is this a fault in the man who may well be our next President and leader of the free world? I think not. And this many-faceted, unauthorized autobiography gives us the best moments and many of the very-well researched 'bad' moments that happen in a man's life, a man who can only be described as intense and thorough in every thing he attempts.
As a young student, living in Washington, DC and attending St. Albans, he becomes a 3-letter man, and the Captain of his football team. Never one to run from a fight, he occasionally ends up on the bench after defending himself or a teammate against over-rough play from the other side. A leader in his own right, many interviews with former students show how Gore was seen as everything from self-centered to very studious, jocular to very quiet, and everything in-between. Why?
Taking the 'hard right over the easy wrong,' a theme of his recent acceptance speech for the Democratic nomination for the Presidency, came from these early years and was reinforced by his father, Senator Albert Gore Senior, on his deathbed, looking at his son for the last time, and saying "Always do right," his last words.
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Format: Hardcover
Al Gore has been described as a cerebral achiever, a policy wonk with a sturdy propensity to master political minutiae. This is one reason why he has been described as "driven" in a way that his rival in the exciting, close 2000 presidential election, George W. Bush, was not, despite the fact that Bush is the son of a former chief executive.
Maraniss and Nakashima dig out the facts of Gore's boyhood and collegiate days. They provide the formative clues which enable readers to determine what makes Al tick and prompts him to respond to political challenges with a dogged intensity.
Like the now President George W. Bush, Gore had strong political roots of his own, Albert Gore Senior, who was an intense achiever in the same tradition as his son. Gore attended law school by night, romanced Gore's mother and married her during that busy period, then ultimately was elected first to the Congress, then the Senate. He would ultimately be defeated in his bid for a fourth term in 1970 as a result of his opposition to the Vietnam War, which was frowned upon in conservative circles in his home state of Tennessee.
From early boyhood Gore was groomed by his father to achieve the highest pinnacle of political success. This commanding sense of duty would ultimately do him in during his debates with Bush. Despite his command of political facts, and in some measure because of this trait, many voters became nervous by his intensity. As a result this uncomfortable feeling saw these voters gravitate toward Bush and his offhand "ah shucks" manner. Gore was seen as the class smart aleck determined to impress with his encyclopedic command of facts.
This intensity to strive, propelled into Gore early by his father, is explored in great depth extending into his political career as well.
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