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The Tide Always Comes Back: And Other Irrefutable Truths and Assurances Hardcover – November 1, 2009
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
“Jean Carnahan's The Tide Always Comes Back is an inspiration—just like the woman who wrote it. Both ask readers to reach for the sky! (Sheryl Crow)”
“Here, with wit and wisdom, Jean Carnahan teaches us how to make lemonade out of life, as she has. In the face of what could have been overwhelming loss, she reveals how she drew strength from family, party, country, and especially faith, to see her through until the tide came back. These are invaluable lessons, lovingly shared. (Cokie Roberts)”
“My 80-year-old mother told me that The Tide Always Comes Back was a must-read for mothers and daughters. As always, she was right. Page after page, with humor and grace, Jean Carnahan reminds us of the things we value mos. (Senator Claire McCaskill, D-MO)”
About the Author
Senator Jean Carnahan served as U.S. Senator in Washington, D.C. for two years, where she was a leading advocate for working families. Her first bill, the Quality Classrooms Act, was included in the No Child Behind Act by the senate. Both her son and daughter hold government positions. Carnahan, who heads up the Web site firedupmissouri.com, lives in St. Louis, Missouri.
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Jean Carnahan was the first lady of Missouri when her husband, Gov. Mel Carnahan, who was running for the U.S. Senate, and their son, Randy, were killed in a plane crash not far from St. Louis on Oct. 17, 2000. Chris Sifford, campaign adviser and former chief of staff to the governor, also died in the crash of the plane piloted by Randy Carnahan.
She offers her insights in a very readable and inspirational book The Tide Always Comes Back: And Other Irrefutable Truths and Assurances (Skyhorse Publishing, 209 pages, $19.95).
When Mel Carnahan was elected posthumously -- beating John Ashcroft -- his widow agreed to take his seat in Washington and served in the U.S. Senate during 9/11, the anthrax attacks, and the vote to go to war in Iraq. During a time of intense and almost unimaginable personal loss-- which also included a fire ignited by lightning that damaged her house 11 months after the plane crash -- she managed to keep her head up and her heart open and worked diligently for her constituents and for the country. She was narrowly defeated in a 2002 race to keep the seat for a full six years.
Jean Carnahan, in the public arena most recently as she campaigned for President Barack Obama, is a skillful writer, with a light, more often than not humorous approach. I was struck by many of the similarities between her urban background growing up in southeast Washington, DC, and my growing up on a small farm in southwestern Michigan. She writes about feed sacks being made into scratchy bed sheets. I remember how the feed sacks we salvaged were made into dresses for my two younger sisters. Only five years separate us -- Jean Anne Carpenter Carnahan was born in 1933 and I was born in 1938 -- so many of her recollections of World War II are similar to mine.
Carnahan draws on the wisdom of her Scotch-Irish and German, Baptist background, seasoned with higher education -- at George Washington University -- and years of experience in the public sector. She explains why she is a Democrat, citing a quotation from Garrison Keillor: "Milk comes from Cows and Medicare comes from Democrats."
"Social Security and Medicare...gave families like ours hope for the future," she writes, echoing my mother's Yellow Dog New Deal political views (she would vote for a Yellow Dog before casting a ballot for a Republican). "My grandfather, a union carpenter, benefited from the 40-hour week and minimum wage legislation. When he died, leaving my grandmother a widow for the next twenty years without savings or income, Social Security was there for her, put into place by FDR and a Democratic Congress."
Carnahan urges her readers to question authority, something she admits she failed to do with the Bush Administration's push for the Iraq invasion in 2002. She relates how she and 76 other Senators were hoodwinked into voting for a war that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and the rest of the Bush administration equated with the "War on Terror." The briefings were held in a secure "upper room," far from the hubbub of Congressional activity in the Capitol.
"We know now," she writes, "that some of those 'upper room' sessions were little more than a 'story hour' for senators. The case for war, which seemed so compelling then, was largely fabricated. Sadly, the tenor of the times stifled opposition and silenced the broad debate that migh otherwise have occurred. We failed to question."
Carnahan, who was among the 77 voting "Yea," singles out for praise Sen. Robert C. Byrd, D-WV, among the 23 who voted against the authorization. Already the longest-serving senator in United States history, on Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2009, Byrd surpassed Carl Hayden as the longest-serving member of Congress in history, combining terms in both the House and Senate.
Hayden, an Arizona Democrat, served in the House from 1912 to 1927 and in the Senate from 1927 to 1969 for a total of 56 years 319 days. Byrd, whose 92nd birthday is Friday, Nov. 20, served in the House from 1953 to 1959 and has been in the Senate ever since. He served as the Democratic leader from 1977 to 1989, about half of that time as the majority leader.
"The Tide Always Comes Back" -- the title comes from an old Cornish proverb -- is the distillation of her personal experiences and tragedies, which she believes come with blessings attached. In these trying economic and social upheaval times, with something as basic as health care for all being attacked by the extreme right, Carnahan's message is relevant. She comes across in the book as a determined woman with a wonderful sense of humor. I'm sure my mother, who shared many of her values, would have enjoyed a cup of coffee with her on her daily trips to her cafe in downtown Rochelle, Illinois.
If you're a fan of "Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?" on CMT, "The Tide Always Comes Back" would make a wonderful gift for any fifth grader on your Holiday list. Even those of us who have trouble keeping up with fifth graders will enjoy it.
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