by Patricia Beard ‧ RELEASE DATE: July 17, 1996
A hagiographic authorized bio of New Jersey's governor, by her personal friend. There can he little pretense of objectivity in a political biography, like this one (the second this year after Sandy McClure's Christy Whitman for the People), which is introduced by the subject: In her rather self-satisfied introduction, Whitman tells about the values of honesty and leadership learned in her wealthy, politically oriented Republican upbringing in rural New Jersey. The author traces Whitman's lineage back to her 17th-century New Jersey forebears, particularly profiling her public-spirited grandfather, John Todd. Then Beard relates more than one is likely to want to know about Whitman's sometimes idyllic, sometimes turbulent childhood on her family's farm; one is even treated to descriptions of home movies featuring Whitman, stories of her foxhunting, and detailed analyses of the dynamics of her parents' relationships. Beard shows the politically charged atmosphere in which Whitman grew up: Her parents, both prominent Republicans, were Eisenhower supporters, although her father was a close friend of Adlai Stevensons. Whitman was early exposed to the excitement of Republican conventions and the trauma of a divided party in 1964, when Goldwater's radical conservatism alienated establishment Republicans like Whitman's father. Although politically aware and active before her 1974 marriage to John Whitman, afterward she devoted herself primarily to her family until her 1982 election to the Somerset County Board of Freeholders. After success there and on the Board of Public Utilities, she ran against and almost beat the highly popular incumbent senator, Bill Bradley, and in 1993, running largely on a platform of tax reform, went on to beat Jim Florio for governor. One would be naive to expect a hard-hitting critique of Whitman or her policies from this adulatory tract. Still, an appealing human portrait emerges of one of the nation's most eminent governors.
Pub Date: July 17, 1996
Page Count: 256
Review Posted Online: N/A
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1996
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