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Slade Gorton A Half Century in Politics Hardcover – November 1, 2011
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This is a fast-paced, readable biography of one of the political giants of Washington state. Slade Gorton for more than 40 years, served our state with brilliance and left an exemplary legacy of honesty and integrity. I was privileged to serve with Slade in the Washington state House of Representatives and a quarter of a century later in the U.S. Senate. We worked as close teammates on many projects of vital importance to our state. I have always respected Slade's analytical ability and thoroughly enjoy our friendship of 50 years. This book is a must read for anyone interested in public service or who cares about our political system. --Dan Evans, Former Washington State Governor and US Senator
Late in Slade's biography is a chapter entitled "An Outbreak of Candor". After the 2000 election in which Slade was defeated, the Senate went back into session in December. Slade working in his office had the Senate proceedings on his TV as most of us did as we worked. Suddenly he heard the Democratic Senator from Washington State, Patty Murray, who undoubtedly worked for Slade s opponent, rise on the Senate floor and eloquently deliver remarks about his career and accomplishments in the U.S. Senate. Others of both parties, also listening as they worked in their offices, got up and went over to the floor to deliver tributes. It was a remarkable, unusual and apparently spontaneous occurrence. Senator Phil Gramm, who was among those to speak, said it best. Slade was wise . . . (and) exactly the kind of person the founders had in mind when they wrote the Senate into the Constitution. Pollsters have noted that many people have low opinions of Senators. But I found my colleagues to be an exceptional lot: highly intelligent (with very few exceptions), very ambitious (with no exceptions) and while surely judging the political impact of issues before they voted, strongly motivated to do what they felt was best for our country. It was in this highly competitive group of 100 that Slade shone with remarkable brightness for 18 years due to the enormity of his intellect, his work ethic, his toughness plus legislative skills such as few of us had. In a body where it s hard to get things done, his accomplishments were legion. All this has been captured by John Hughes in his excellent biography: Slade Gorton A Half Century in Politics. In the very last sentence of the book, Hughes notes that one of his former Senate aides called to say she had the perfect title for this book: Slade Gorton: The first 80 years. I actually like that title better because I believe there is yet much to come. --Rudy Boschwitz, former U.S. Senator from Minnesota
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I felt as if this book lacked on overarching theme, unlike, say, Robert Kaufman's biography of Henry "Scoop" Jackson (http://www.amazon.com/Henry-M-Jackson-Life-Politics/dp/0295979623). That partly is because Slade, while a man of strong opinions, was a much more mercurial figure than Jackson. He also never had Jackson's clout (which was virtually unmatched in the Senate, frankly, particularly in the last 10-15 years of his career or so) so it's not really Hughes fault, although I felt he could have gotten a little more into what drives him personally. Then again, I've heard so many opinions on Slade, the man, it's clear to me there is little consensus. As the book makes clear, he won a lot of friends and a lot of enemies, and not always the friends or enemies you'd expect.
As a native Washingtonian who's lived elsewhere for the past 7 years, I loved learning about this man I had met only a few times in passing, and I loved learning about the political history of my state. If that is enough for you, this is a very good book. And it should be enough for anybody who would actually be interested in reading it.