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A fine autobiography by New Jersey's current two-term governor that smacks of a Vice-Presidential trial balloon. Kean, a rare breed among N.J. politicians--with a patrician streak that belies his hail-fellow-well-met public demeanor--has crafted a well-written tour of his early life as the descendant of an elite family (both his father and grandfather held prestigious elected positions in the state and national legislatures). In many ways, Kean owes his current position to his roots. Early on, he pursued a career in teaching at a private boys' school in New England. But a troubled N.J. Republican organization, sensing the magic of the Kean name, asked him to run for the State Assembly. After gaining that office, his star continued to shine, until in 1981 he was tapped for the gubernatorial race--winning by only some 1,500 votes. Four years later, after Kean oversaw a resurgence of the state economy, he was reelected by one of the largest pluralities in state history--a fact not overlooked by higher party circles. Kean's brand of Republicanism--what he here terms ""the politics of inclusion""--consists of a large dose of Reaganesque pride and optimism with a serving of opportunity as touted by the great leaders of both parties. In New Jersey, Kean states, ""after cutting taxes and watching the economy boom on the strength of the private sector, we invested our bounty in everything from roads and research to welfare reform and infant nutrition. We did it all in the name of opportunity."" Kean does not exclude anybody from his politics of bounty--he aggressively courted the black vote in his second campaign. In fact, one of the weaknesses of the book is the occasional maudlin touch--Kean drinking beer with the boys, etc.--to show the patrician's common touch. An unusually stylish political autobiography.

Pub Date: April 25th, 1988
Publisher: Free Press/Macmillan