Richards, who made a splash as keynote speaker at last year's Democratic convention, now offers a vivid memoir. Raised near Waco, Tex., the only child of hard-working but financially strapped parents, Dorothy Ann Willis was outspoken at school (her parents ""didn't put a lot of stock in scholarship, [but] they greatly valued personality""). In high school, she discovered debating and fell in love with a sophisticated classmate, David Richards. They married as students at Baylor and, as David went on to law school and a charged-up career, Ann raised four children and fell in with a smart, politically aware set of friends. The family settled in Austin, and in 1975 she ran against an incumbent for the job of County Commissioner. She won--thanks to a dogged door-to-door campaign--and went on to charm reluctant road crews, learn to work with community leaders, and generally master the art of getting things done. But all this was at a cost: a drinking problem required a monthlong rehab, and her marriage of 30 years collapsed. But Richards moved forward and got elected state treasurer. Her firecracker personality and long-term commitment to women's issues caught lots of eyes, culminating in the invitation to deliver the keynote address. Touted as a front-runner in the 1990 Texas gubernatorial race, Richards also comes across as a live-wire friend (she organizes mammoth camping trips), an impassioned mom, and a ferocious, tireless worker. In all: a successful mix of political advocacy and family narrative, told with humor and grace.