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The Whole Damn Deal: Robert Strauss and the Art of Politics Hardcover – October 11, 2011


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 430 pages
  • Publisher: PublicAffairs (October 11, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1586488775
  • ISBN-13: 978-1586488772
  • Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 6.8 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #852,656 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

The Washington Post, December 11, 2011
"As Kathryn J. McGarr skillfully shows, Strauss, now 93, was a vivid personality when on the stage, and fun to read about. But people like Strauss also have had a unique role in American public life, which is important to understand, and extends McGarr's book beyond one man's story."

The Dallas Morning News, October 14, 2011
"The book is especially good in conveying the full scope of Strauss' ambitions and his successes, from FBI agent during World War II to his four decades as a Washington powerhouse."

Newsweek/Daily Beast
"Can you imagine the current chairman of the Republican Party being asked to secretly advise President Obama? Me neither. But when Nancy Reagan called Strauss, patriotism trumped partisanship. From Stamford, Texas, to the Kremlin, McGarr takes us along with Strauss on one hell of a ride." -- Paul Begala

The Weekly Standard, October 3, 2011
“Kathryn McGarr brings sprightly writing and strong narrative drive to her tale, which represents a valuable contribution to the ledger of Washington life in the waning decades of the 20th century….Throughout his quarter-century on the Washington scene, Strauss clearly was a man of his time and milieu: more powerful than many, more effective than most, and more amusing and heartwarming than just about anybody. He operated in a time that is long gone now, but well worth remembering.”

The Hill, September 17, 2011
“A fascinating and well-written book about one of the most interesting — and, yes, important — figures on the national political landscape in the last third of the 20th century.”

The Washington Examiner
“McGarr has done extensive research, writes gracefully and does not shy away from critical judgments about her subject….This is a fine book which puts into print many facts and stories which might otherwise be lost—an excellent contribution to history.”

About the Author

Kathryn J. McGarr received her BA in history from Stanford University and an MS in journalism from Columbia University where she was awarded the Lynton Fellowship for book writing. Her work has appeared in Politico, among other places.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Christian Schlect VINE VOICE on November 6, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Those interested in how the Washington, D.C. political game was played in the last quarter of the twentieth century will benefit by reading this biography of Bob Strauss, which weaves many a good political story into its fabric.

Beginning with the subject's early days (Jewish family, Texas Longhorn, FBI agent), it then quickly focuses on his mature legal and political life, starting in the Big D (John Connally and formation of what became the prestigious Akin Gump law firm) followed by his gravitation to the power emanating from the nation's capital. Mr. Strauss' long sojourn on the Potomac was highlighted by the growth of his law firm, varied national Democratic Party political campaigns, and his stints in public service, such as his successful tour of duty as the Special Trade Representative. The book culminates with the capstone assignment of his career, U.S. ambassador to the collapsing Soviet Union.

This biography is not authored by a disinterested historian:Kathryn J. McGarr is a relative of Mr. Strauss. She loves him and it, while tempered, shows in her book. The plus side of this kin relationship is in an access and attention to her subject's life details and inner motivations that may have eluded someone not as close to his family and friends. This is especially true given that Mr. Strauss was a personality driven success story, whose intertwined political and legal career was grounded on a gift for friendships (with important political, media, and business leaders of all stripes) and a larger-than-life-sized public persona (to a good extent self-generated) as an insider and deal maker.

As an aside, those interested in the history of deal making in Washington, D.C. might be interested in reading "King of the Lobby: The Life and Times of Sam Ward" by Kathryn Allamong Jacob (2010), a very good history set in the Gilded Age.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By NYC Mom on December 18, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Strauss had a front row seat for US history. What is worthwhile to anyone ascending any career ladder is his skill at building and maintaining relationships.
A lively biography.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By LM Publications LLC on March 3, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
"The Whole Damn Deal" was a very enjoyable book for a political junkie like myself. The book covers the life and career of Robert Strauss, a man whose experience, connections, abilities, coupled with a Texas-size ego made him a Washington power broker. Highlights of his career have included being the former Chairman of the Democratic National Committee, US Special Trade Representative under President Carter and US Ambassador to the Soviet Union/ Russia under President George H.W. Bush. Weaved throughout that service, Strauss emerged as a Washington "super-lawyer", who put his wealth of knowledge and connections to work for his Washington law firm's private clients. Over the years, Strauss became both a man to know, and a man in the know in the nation's capitol.

There are many interesting stories in this book, written by a relative of Strauss, Kathyrn J. McCarr, spanning from years spent in Texas politics with LBJ and John Connally, to his years as DNC Chair trying to resurrect the Democratic Party after the 1972 election debacle, as well as his relationships with Presidents Carter, Reagan and Bush. As a lawyer, who once looked to develop a lobbying practice, I found the stories of the evolution of Strauss' law firm, from a small two-man operation in Texas in the 1940's to a powerful Washington mega-firm fascinating. Another story in the book that I found very interesting was Strauss secretly being called to the White House by the Reagan's to advise the President at the height of the Iran-Contra scandal in the mid-1980's.

Overall the book was very enjoyable. The only thing holding me back from a "5 Star" review was that the ending of the book seemed rather abrupt, which left me a little disappointed and wanting more. But despite that, there is definitely much to like about this book, beginning with the origin of the title and running all the way throughout.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By richard rosenberg on February 10, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Very good and well written biography of Robert (Bob) Strauss by his great niece.Traces,with no holds barred, Bob's life from Princeton,Texas through the University of Texas, to being a named Partner in a national law firm :Chairman of the Democratic Party; money raiser extraordinary;ability to work across party lines and retire from public life as Ambassador to Russia appointed by George H.W. Bush.
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