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The Whole Damn Deal: Robert Strauss and the Art of Politics Hardcover – October 11, 2011
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"As Kathryn J. McGarr skillfully shows, Strauss, now 93, was a vivid personality when on the stage, and fun to read about. But people like Strauss also have had a unique role in American public life, which is important to understand, and extends McGarr's book beyond one man's story."
The Dallas Morning News, October 14, 2011
"The book is especially good in conveying the full scope of Strauss' ambitions and his successes, from FBI agent during World War II to his four decades as a Washington powerhouse."
"Can you imagine the current chairman of the Republican Party being asked to secretly advise President Obama? Me neither. But when Nancy Reagan called Strauss, patriotism trumped partisanship. From Stamford, Texas, to the Kremlin, McGarr takes us along with Strauss on one hell of a ride." -- Paul Begala
The Weekly Standard, October 3, 2011
“Kathryn McGarr brings sprightly writing and strong narrative drive to her tale, which represents a valuable contribution to the ledger of Washington life in the waning decades of the 20th century….Throughout his quarter-century on the Washington scene, Strauss clearly was a man of his time and milieu: more powerful than many, more effective than most, and more amusing and heartwarming than just about anybody. He operated in a time that is long gone now, but well worth remembering.”
The Hill, September 17, 2011
“A fascinating and well-written book about one of the most interesting — and, yes, important — figures on the national political landscape in the last third of the 20th century.”
The Washington Examiner
“McGarr has done extensive research, writes gracefully and does not shy away from critical judgments about her subject….This is a fine book which puts into print many facts and stories which might otherwise be lost—an excellent contribution to history.”
About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
Beginning with the subject's early days (Jewish family, Texas Longhorn, FBI agent), it then quickly focuses on his mature legal and political life, starting in the Big D (John Connally and formation of what became the prestigious Akin Gump law firm) followed by his gravitation to the power emanating from the nation's capital. Mr. Strauss' long sojourn on the Potomac was highlighted by the growth of his law firm, varied national Democratic Party political campaigns, and his stints in public service, such as his successful tour of duty as the Special Trade Representative. The book culminates with the capstone assignment of his career, U.S. ambassador to the collapsing Soviet Union.
This biography is not authored by a disinterested historian:Kathryn J. McGarr is a relative of Mr. Strauss. She loves him and it, while tempered, shows in her book. The plus side of this kin relationship is in an access and attention to her subject's life details and inner motivations that may have eluded someone not as close to his family and friends. This is especially true given that Mr. Strauss was a personality driven success story, whose intertwined political and legal career was grounded on a gift for friendships (with important political, media, and business leaders of all stripes) and a larger-than-life-sized public persona (to a good extent self-generated) as an insider and deal maker.
As an aside, those interested in the history of deal making in Washington, D.C. might be interested in reading "King of the Lobby: The Life and Times of Sam Ward" by Kathryn Allamong Jacob (2010), a very good history set in the Gilded Age.
There are many interesting stories in this book, written by a relative of Strauss, Kathyrn J. McCarr, spanning from years spent in Texas politics with LBJ and John Connally, to his years as DNC Chair trying to resurrect the Democratic Party after the 1972 election debacle, as well as his relationships with Presidents Carter, Reagan and Bush. As a lawyer, who once looked to develop a lobbying practice, I found the stories of the evolution of Strauss' law firm, from a small two-man operation in Texas in the 1940's to a powerful Washington mega-firm fascinating. Another story in the book that I found very interesting was Strauss secretly being called to the White House by the Reagan's to advise the President at the height of the Iran-Contra scandal in the mid-1980's.
Overall the book was very enjoyable. The only thing holding me back from a "5 Star" review was that the ending of the book seemed rather abrupt, which left me a little disappointed and wanting more. But despite that, there is definitely much to like about this book, beginning with the origin of the title and running all the way throughout.
It's telling, it's funny, and anyone who reads it will learn some lessons they can apply in their own lives.
The book doesn't slight his faults, but you come away feeling that a few more Bob Strausses would be a great thing for the country.
A lively biography.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Still reading, but a great read about someone from West Texas who went on to influence world leaders.Published 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
Bigger than Life personalities like Bob Strauss come along rarely and this bio is a great read which details the things that made him such a political rock star and statesman!Published on January 17, 2014 by Robert Estrada
Kathryn McGarr brought Robert Strauss to life. Extremely enjoyable to read and not what you expect of a bio/history book.Published on December 14, 2013 by Candice Sperry