Texas gubernatorial candidate Davis delivers a political biography that is better—in part because it’s better written, in part because it’s more heartfelt—than most books of its kind.
Davis burst onto the national stage last year with a carefully mounted filibuster of the Texas Senate “to defeat an anti-abortion bill, giving voice to thousands and thousands of women pleading to preserve their access to lifesaving health care and reproductive rights.” Among the news that emerges from the book, and by artful design, is the fact that Davis herself had to have recourse to the procedure due to an ectopic pregnancy that required removal of a fallopian tube, “which in Texas is technically considered an abortion, and doctors have to report it as such.” Hard-line anti-abortion activists probably won’t be swayed by Davis’ thoughtful, somber account of the tragedy, but it is affecting and unsentimental. Her account of her peripatetic, shy childhood (“I was not an expected child and my parents didn’t greet the news with great happiness”) is similarly moving. Rather more rote is her account of college and law school. Though she worked harder than most as a young mother without much in the way of family resources, all the expected tropes are there: the feeling of being the smartest kid in the class on arriving at Harvard and the dumbest within five minutes or so, the backbreaking toughness of contracts class. Davis’ recollection is that she threw herself into politics without much preparation, without having nursed a long desire to be president or a congresswoman, but it’s clear from her accounts of maneuvering through various bills and factions that she’s good at horse trading. She’s good at writing, too, and her closing account of that famed filibuster is a dramatic, textbook case of how to play hardball.
Doubtless we’ll be hearing more from Davis. This modest memoir makes it clear why even her opponents should pay attention to her.