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 The triumphs and challenges of the political arena shape an extraordinarily candid, often lyrical, memoir from former Vermont governor and current Deputy US Secretary of Education Kunin. Viewing her life through the prism of political involvement, the author, whose personal journey would seem sufficiently compelling for a more traditional narrative, instead delivers an alternately wry, intense, amusing, and elegant meditation on why anybody--from the standard male go-getter to a doctor's wife and mother of four like Kunin--would submit to the grinding pressures of public service. Born in Switzerland on the eve of Hitler's rise, Kunin, with her widowed mother and adored older brother, arrived in America at age six and gradually settled into the customary path for women of her generation, putting aside a fledgling career in journalism for marriage and family. Community and civic involvement led accidentally--and hilariously--to an unsuccessful race for the Burlington Board of Aldermen. It was the springboard for her ascent, in 12 short years, from freshman representative to first woman governor of the state. Sparing none of the gritty details of legislative infighting, the demands of juggling family and career, and the constant battle to control her ``political demons: fear, self-doubt, and paranoia,'' Kunin nevertheless conveys a passionate appreciation for the ``infinite possibility of politics,'' celebrated here as a deeply personal and simultaneously quite public art form (``...I could express my inner self in politics. Political action was a creative process, drawing on my emotions and intellect....''). Accordingly, Kunin's efforts on behalf of such cherished issues as education, the environment, child care, and women's rights are depicted as the inevitable culmination of observing of the surrounding world. Compulsory reading for anyone, male or female, who has ever pondered the mysteries of political life. (16 pages of b&w photographs--not seen)

Pub Date: March 1st, 1994
ISBN: 0-679-41181-X
Page count: 416pp
Publisher: Knopf
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 1994