24 YEARS OF HOUSE WORK...AND THE PLACE IS STILL A MESS by Pat Schroeder

24 YEARS OF HOUSE WORK...AND THE PLACE IS STILL A MESS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

An enjoyable yet surprisingly lightweight autobiography by the longest-serving woman in congressional history. Schroeder entered the House of Representatives when Nixon was president (1972) and left when Clinton was in office (1996). She has thus witnessed, and often been one of the shapers of, a remarkable period in American and world history. A villain to conservatives and a hero to liberals, she became one of the most powerful and recognizable politicians in the country. Yet in the early years she was very much a “girl” trying to join a Congress that was (and to a degree still is) a “boys—” club. Assigned to the powerful House Armed Services Committee in her first term (the only woman), she nevertheless had to literally share a chair with Ron Dellums (the only African-American on the committee). Despite such indignities, Schroeder became a strong voice in Congress for the rights and needs of women. She struggled for, and often won, important legislation concerning such issues as women’s health, women in the military, and teenage pregnancy. Here, though, she devotes little time to the details of such struggles. Instead, there is a breezy (and often funny) focus on personalities: a page each for her fellow congresswomen in her first term, a page for Nixon, with glimpses of Carter, Tip O’Neill, and many others along the way. Her famous cutting wit is here; sitting next to Nancy Reagan at a luncheon she considered asking, “How are the kids?” Wit, however, does not substitute for substance, and that’s what is missing here. Reading this, one suspects that Schroeder, now president and CEO of the Association of American Publishers, is reluctant to tell tales out of school until she has decided that her political career is truly over. (b&w photos, not seen) (Author tour)

Pub Date: May 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-8362-3707-2
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Andrews McMeel
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 1998