A hard-boiled account of the career of Chris Christie, colorful governor and presidential aspirant, "the first bona fide American YouTube politician."
Peabody Award winner Katz knows Christie well. As a print and radio reporter, the author has covered the governor for more than five years; in this capacity, he makes frequent cameo appearances in the book, sometimes as the butt of Christie’s jokes. In this debut, Katz surveys Christie's career—from failed local politician to U.S. Attorney for New Jersey to governor with reportorial swagger and a strong measure of cynicism. As a Republican governor in an overwhelmingly blue state, Christie had to reach accommodations with the local Democratic warlords in order to get anything done; the author permits these understandings to be viewed as tough-minded practical politics or as grimy backroom deals, depending on the reader's inclinations. For much of the book, Katz seems mildly vexed to have to portray a popular Republican governor working closely with the opposition party to achieve more effective and fiscally responsible government than his state had seen in many years. He freely gives Christie his due in this regard while peppering the narrative with fair criticism and occasional lapses into innuendo and snark. Shifting chronologies sometimes make it hard to follow Katz's otherwise crisp narrative, which comes most vividly alive in his presentation of "Bridgegate," the closure of lanes on the George Washington Bridge in September 2013 by rogue Christie appointees to inconvenience the mayor and people of Fort Lee. Written in the present tense, the account of the events and the subsequent investigations races forward with the pulse of a gripping political thriller. Never tied directly to the scandal, Christie nevertheless suffered lasting political damage in its wake, as his unvarnished speaking style and Jersey-tough shtick began to work against him.
An evenhanded, timely biography of a boisterous politician who "personif[ies] a media-focused, celebrity-obsessed, blunt-talking U.S. of A."