- Hardcover: 288 pages
- Publisher: St. Martin's Press; 1st edition (July 10, 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0312368291
- ISBN-13: 978-0312368296
- Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.1 x 9.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 10 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,411,316 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Feasting on the Spoils: The Life and Times of Randy "Duke" Cunningham, History's Most Corrupt Congressman Hardcover – July 10, 2007
From Publishers Weekly
Without fanfare, Hettena, an Associated Press reporter based near Republican congressman Randy Duke Cunningham's district in Southern California, lays out the facts of his political downfall in 2006— which some observers believe tarnished the GOP and enabled the Democrats to regain their congressional majority. Though the shockwaves emanating from Cunningham's downfall have continued to make headlines—among eight federal prosecutors forced to resign from the Justice Department last year was Carol Lam, who ran the investigation of the two defense contractors who gave Cunningham $2.4 million over a five-year period, more than half of it in just three months—Hettena doesn't reach for the broader political ramifications. He debunks the most lurid stories of contractors providing prostitutes for congressmen at the Watergate, but the corruption and sexual harassment he does pin down are more than sufficiently sordid. He also probes Cunningham's background as a self-aggrandizing Vietnam fighter pilot and combative politician who once got into a fistfight with a Democratic colleague outside House chambers. This straightforward account is a strong summation of Cunningham's ignoble career. (July)
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About the Author
Top customer reviews
Hettena has masterfully taken a complex, convoluted and just plain confusing history and woven a fascinating and comprehensible story which helps us understand not only what happened in the case of Randy "Duke" Cunningham and his contractor cronies, Wade and Wilkes, but skillfully illuminates the reasons why.
Perhaps some of you will say they're unethical - so what? The amount of corruption and the web of complicity throughout our government and industry have reached record breadth and depth. It will not improve until the American public pays attention, understands, and demands that it be stopped. Each of us has a part in this drama. A good place to start is reading this book.
Duke Cunningham should never have gotten even remotely high up in power as he did. Author Seth Hettena paints a "not so glorious" view of the man who came to represent the beginning of the downfall of ethics problems in Congress over the past years. Cunningham was neither cunning so much as he was a ham. His mouth got him into constant trouble and the author points out how easily a man with war hero credentials, given to emotion rather than reason and easily bought, is otherwise reduced to pulp on a national scene. At least retiring Senator Larry Craig makes Cunningham look good.
Hettena's narrative is better at the ends. The initial sting operation to get Cunningham bookended by the eventual outcome is told in gripping manner. The author knows how to write. Yet, the middle of the book sags under the weight of facts and figures. The case against Cunningham is made, but to say that he is the "most corrupt Congressman" in Washington? Ever? Certainly Tom DeLay will receive that mantle. Or others about whom we don't know. It's still early.
Seth Hettena's book is good, but not great. It fills in some pieces along the corruption puzzle line and a title less blaring would have made for a more solid read. I hope this talented author writes another book about Congressional life in Washington before long. Go higher up, this time!
The other fascinating part of the book is that it shows just how easy it is for a member of Congress to be corrupted. After reading it, we should look long and hard at practices such as "legislative earmarks" and gerrymandered political districts, both of which played a strong part in Cunningham's saga. A gerrymandered district ensured that he would always be re-elected (despite the observation by the local, conservative, paper that he was an embarrassment to the voters), while the "earmark" process allowed him to payback his benefactors by inserting hidden contracts into spending bills. If we are ever going to have a semblance of true democracy, both of these practices must stop. This book demonstrates how and why both of these practices have such a deleterious effect on our government. It's a great story that was exceedingly well told.
It was very clear to me after reading this book how our culture of materialism and consumerism has gotten out of control. The "Duke" got caught up in this and loses site of what is important in life and his purpose as a father, husband and congressional representative. Seth paints a very clear picture of a man caught up in his own ego unable to distinguish right from wrong. This book reminded me about the frailty of human beings and the necessity to show how bad it can get when we lose site of our purpose. This timely book should not only be a must read for every politician....but everyone.
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