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Against All Odds: My Life of Hardship, Fast Breaks, and Second Chances Hardcover – February 21, 2011

4.5 out of 5 stars 49 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“Powerful stuff. . . .This isn’t your typical memoir. It is brutally honest, difficult to read, and important.” (The Tucson Citizen)

“A fresh, compelling memoir of a childhood that could have led to a miserable life, but didn’t. . . .Brown’s straightforward narrative makes for a good read.” (Louisville Courier Journal)

“A[n] engaging autobiography. . . . A rags-to-riches narrative that sometimes recalls Horatio Alger. . . . Lyricism and occasional symbolic richness emerge in these pages.” (The New York Review of Books)

“Dramatic. . . . Poignant. . . . Scott Brown’s life could have veered horribly wrong so many times, as he amply demonstrates in his disquieting memoir. . . . A reader will get an everything’s-finally-right-with-the-world thrill from his success in life. (The Washington Post)

From the Back Cover

The extraordinary personal journey of a man who, against all odds, rose to become one of America’s most surprising and promising new political figures

Scott Brown's greatest win did not occur on a cold January election night in 2010 when he came from behind to capture the U.S. Senate seat held by Ted Kennedy for nearly fifty years. It began when he survived a savage beating at the drunken, dirty-fingernail hands of a stepfather when he was barely six years old, while trying to protect his mother.

In this gripping memoir of resilience and redemption, Brown tells the story of his difficult, often nomadic childhood, shunted from house to apartment, and town to town, seventeen times over his first eighteen years. He somehow thrived despite a largely absent father, who married four separate times. So did his mother, in relationships frequently stained with alcohol, anger, and even violence. For nearly two decades' growing up, Brown endured innumerable hardships and challenges, even stealing food to eat. He was periodically sent off to live with relatives, his possessions wrapped in a few old blankets. Saved by basketball, he was the boy who shoveled snow from the public courts to shoot hoops alone in the frozen cold.

With clear-eyed conviction and unflinching can-dor, Brown tells the story of his own bad-boy days, of the coaches who mentored him, and of how he found a way out of familial chaos through the swish of a ball in the net, winning a starting slot on the Tufts varsity basketball team as a freshman player and becoming the tenth-highest scorer to graduate in the school's history. His rise from there was even more improbable: a first-year law student and member of the Massachusetts National Guard, he was picked as Cosmopolitan magazine's "America's Sexiest Man" and was vaulted into the glamorous world of New York modeling at the height of the 1980s. But the man who was once ushered into the backrooms of Studio 54 returned to Massachusetts to continue with his military and legal training, settle down, raise a family, and soon found an unlikely path that would lead him to national political stardom. Here, too, are the secrets from the unprecedented Senate race that captured the country's imagination and how Scott Brown won his remarkable victory.

Poignant, heartfelt, humorous, and profound, this is the story of one man's dream and his determination to fight for a better future.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; 1 edition (February 21, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062015540
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062015549
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #700,486 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I stayed up to 2 a.m. to finish this remarkable, heart-wrenching, and ultimately inspiring and uplifting book. My eyes teared up reading the story of Scott Brown as a six year old boy being beaten by his drunken father on the day that Scott's own half-sister was being born. Scott's "crime"? He had been told to wake up his stepdad so that he could go to the hospital. He was a boy who was shunted from home to home, traveling with his few meager possessions wrapped in a blanket. He was picked on and prayed upon. His clothes were too small, and he was desperately hungry. His mother worked multiple jobs, but never kept enough food in the fridge. He could have easily been a sullen bad-boy, but instead after a teacher, a coach, and a judge took a chance on him, he took it upon himself to turn his life around. And he never stopped. The last of his mother's husbands was a horribly abusive man, who terrorized the house and night after night threatened to break Scott's hands -- which would have rendered him unable to play basketball. But Scott answered every call to protect her and his sister, no matter what the risk to himself. Even when he reaches adulthood, the book never flags. He captures the world of New York in the early 80s and you feel like you are with him in the field or on night parachute jumps after he joins the military. When he builds a successful life for himself as an adult, it is a wonderful triumph and although I find most political campaign descriptions boring, I was on the edge of my seat for this one, because it was so improbable at every turn. This book really has something for everyone, a powerful and difficult boyhood, the magic of sports, the thrill of the chase in politics, and the pleasure of watching him win in life. I saw a couple of the TV interviews, and I don't think they begin to do justice to just how great and special this book is. Read it -- you'll come away with a renewed faith in the power of the human spirit.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As a licensed marriage and family therapist, I spent years working with children from families like the one Scott Brown was born into. With most of these kids, it's about getting them to finish high school before they get arrested, killed, addicted, or pregnant. It's about trying to get parents who have serious issues of their own to do the right thing by their kids. It is phenomenally against the odds that Scott Brown became a US senator. He is very open about what he went through, doesn't seem to sugar-coat anything. One reviewer complained about the book having too much detail; I thought it had the right amount. I am amazed that he had time to write it, given how busy he must be getting started in the Senate. If you like rags to riches stories and if you like basketball, read this book.

I wrote the above in August 2011. Now in 2016 Scott has endorsed Donald Trump for president. How can someone who worked as hard as he did to rise from poverty and served in the military endorse a crooked, crude, draft dodger heir to a fortune like Donald Trump? Scott, I am so disappointed in you!
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Format: Hardcover
A reader has to admire someone who describes his life as being like a spiderweb. He obviously isn't suffering from any kind of Messianic complex. The secret of the young Senator from Massachusetts's success is that he can relate to everyone and he isn't afraid to say "thank you" and share credit for his accomplishments. He reminds many voters of Ronald Reagan in that regard. The 40th President didn't care who got the credit just as long as the work got done.
As far as the spiderweb comparison goes, Brown means each piece of web is an integral part of the overall construction. "The final creation is an intricate combination of perfectly positioned" links that form the whole. "Sever just one key link and the entire web succumbs to capricious winds. With one cut, the entire web is razed."
"My life is like that web. I cannot imagine any piece of its design to be any different; I would not change any part of the experiences that have been woven together to create the larger whole.... If I changed any one of these things, it would change the architecture of my life, and I would no longer be the person I am today."
In the first of 18 chapters in this 325-page memoir the author tells how at age 13 he was busted by store security for stealing popular music albums from a Liberty Tree Mall record store. He had already stolen food from super markets and a suit need to attend a school dance from a clothing store in the years prior to his arrest for record theft. Young Scott Brown seemed headed for an entirely different kind of public record.
Anyone who has heard any news coverage of this new book has probably only learned that as a kid Scott Brown was the victim of repeated sexual abuse and brutal beatings.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I received a Kindle for Christmas and the second book I downloaded was Scott Brown's book "Against all Odds". I had a very hard time putting it down. It is such a tale of survival - mostly through guts, talent and smarts. I loved the choices Scott made in his life and the priorities he set -education, financial independence, family loyalty. It was a pleasure to make his acquaintance and I look forward to watching him as my Senator. Oh yes, my husband thought I was just enjoying the novelty of the Kindle when I couldn't stop reading - but it was actually the story of Scott Brown's amazing life!
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