The first woman from Missouri elected as a U.S. senator explores how she fuses traditional notions of femininity with boldness and ambition.
In her first book, McCaskill, with the assistance of journalist Ganey (Innocent Blood, 1990, etc.), recounts how, in the 1950s, female drive and a life outside the home weren't considered “ladylike.” However, her father gave her permission to be bossy and opinionated, and her mother raised her daughters to have independent minds. McCaskill’s career demonstrates how her collegial nature has benefitted her and earned her respect throughout her career. The author’s stories of her early days as a prosecutor and in the Missouri legislature are written to entertain, but they also illustrate the many obstacles she faced early in her career, often against various old-boys' networks in government. She runs down details of seemingly every issue in every one of her campaigns, including her potentially scandalous divorce—which she met head-on with candor and honesty; voters admired her "uncanny ability to deal with adversity.” McCaskill's storytelling style is quick-moving and demonstrates the breadth of her authenticity and commitment to being accountable to her constituents, but the book loses some of its color when she recounts examples of greater senatorial business and what she regards as exasperating "boondoggles" among her colleagues. Her characteristic skill, which would be impressive for senators from either side of the aisle, is her genuine connection with voters: she identifies their core concerns, empathizes and relates to them, and assures them that the government is hearing their voices. It is clear from her life stories that the author has always displayed the ability to make allies out of adversaries—whether in the House or Senate or during her methodical campaign for homecoming queen in high school.
An uneven but quietly charming, inspiring memoir.