From Publishers Weekly
Months after his fall from Democratic primary front-runner to also-ran, the former governor of Vermont remains an inspiring figure for the voters and activists (many of them new to politics) who joined his confident, Internet-savvy campaign. Dr. Dean spent the summer encouraging fans to unite behind Kerry while building his own group, Democracy for America, to assist "fiscally responsible, socially progressive candidates." Clear, forceful and brief, Deans book explains his new goals. The governor integrates snippets of his own life (from his Park Avenue boyhood to the Iowa caucus) with familiar positions from his campaign (Bushs tax cuts were reckless; America must not "inspire... hatred and fear"). While he has little to say about the advisers (Joe Trippi, Kate OConnor) whose differences got in his way, the doctor does offer a diagnosis for his "scream" speech, calling it a mistake, but blaming its outsized impact on big media gone wild. Dean also praises Vermonts cooperative traditions, lauds Kerry, rips into Ralph Nader and compliments Bill Clinton, who "won not by moving to the middle but by giving people hope." Though it is unmistakably a campaign book, Deans volume has long-term goals too, encouraging readers not only to vote but to get involved by "building a community, locally and nationally."
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Dean's passionate, infectious personality is apparent in this short critique of modern American politics and his own failed campaign to win the Democratic presidential candidacy. Dean, a physician and former governor of Vermont, brings his fascinating experiences to an analysis of his own campaign and an overview of the faltering political process. The behind-the-scenes look includes recollection of the impassioned holler--totally misrepresented, says Dean--that raised so many eyebrows, the avid grassroots movement he built, his contentious relationship with the press, and a heartfelt talk with Al Gore on the eve of deciding whether to stay in the race. He criticizes the powerful for not "getting it," for failing to understand the disillusionment of average Americans with major institutions, from the government to corporations to the Catholic Church. Rejecting what he calls a strategy of becoming "Republican lite," Dean urges Democrats to be faithful to their mission and provide the moral leadership he sees lacking in modern politics. Dean also urges voters to hold politicians accountable and to get involved in government and politics and reflects on the historical cycles that have seen the interests of the wealthy and powerful supersede those of ordinary Americans. Despite the partisanship, this is a passionate appeal for political involvement by a man who has had undeniable influence on presidential campaigning. Vanessa Bush
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