Abrams offers a handbook for the dispossessed, disenfranchised, and underrepresented for rising to “our rightful place at the table, in the boardroom, and eventually, in office.”
Calling her book “the outsider’s version of The Art of War,” the author reveals herself to be a worthy successor to Sun Tzu. Had she won the 2018 race to become the governor of Georgia—and she only narrowly lost, and with substantial irregularities that suggested deliberate wrongdoing on the part of her opponent’s campaign—she would have been the “first black woman to serve as a governor in the United States.” Moreover, she would represent a younger generation, a changing ethnic demographic, and perhaps the “bluing” of the deep-red Deep South. “Greatness demands purpose,” she counsels, and she was well-prepared for that purpose. As she writes, her parents taught their children to prize knowledge and to strive to attain it even as frowning whites shook their heads in denial that a young black girl could win a citywide essay contest—something that, the author allows, might easily have dented her self-confidence and required grappling with doubt. “Our otherness operates as disqualification,” she observes, even as she recounts her substantial achievements, including graduating from Yale Law School and becoming one of only two African-American partners in a law firm that thought of itself as a model of diversity. “Dare to want more” she urges, a project that requires a plan with milestones: “It is by wanting more that we begin,” she writes of that journey to achievement, which involves stretching to the limits of one’s abilities—limits that are probably far beyond their imagined bounds. It also involves many facets, including constant learning, peer mentorship, mastering money matters, and “having the audacity to make mistakes.”
“Those who hold power have no interest in handing it over,” Abrams observes. Readers who follow her good advice may well find themselves wresting it in electoral cycles to come.