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Nader: Crusader, Spoiler, Icon
     

Nader: Crusader, Spoiler, Icon

by Justin Martin
 

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A riveting investigative biography of one of America's most influential citizens

Overview


A riveting investigative biography of one of America's most influential citizens

Editorial Reviews

Love him, hate him -- Ralph Nader invites hagiographies and hatchet jobs. This balanced biography, the result of interviews with 300 people (including Nader himself), sets the record straight on the whistle blower/presidential candidate.
The Economist
Vividly reveals the difference that one committed idealist can make.
The London Telegraph
The highs and lows of [Nader's] career are admirably described in Justin Martin's lively and by no means uncritical biography.
Atlantic Journal-Constitution
Solidly built...Those looking for a factual, chronological account of a remarkable life will quite likely be satisfied.
Roanoke Times
Martin has done a superb job...informative, suspenseful and very well written.
Publishers Weekly
After the success of his Alan Greenspan biography, Martin tackles another subject with tremendous influence on American economics and politics and a largely unknown private life, but this attempt to find the man behind the public figure meets with limited success. This life of the 68-year-old Ralph Nader lingers over his already well-known public advocacy successes, like the fight for auto safety, then quickly skims over the period from 1975 to 2000, eager to get to the behind-the-scenes story of his controversial presidential campaign. The three chapters on the race provide solid chronology, but the larger questions remain open to speculation. Forced to address whether Nader cost Gore the election, the author merely ventures that "the answer lies somewhere near the intersection of political perceptions and first-grade math." He does show, however, how Nader's tenacious, unapologetic campaigning style was likely shaped by his childhood experience attending town meetings in Winsted, Conn., where his immigrant father was famously reluctant to let go of a debate. Martin has interviewed Nader and found plenty of people willing to talk about him, including former Princeton classmates and several "Nader's Raiders" from the 1970s, but never quite pierces the veil of mystery with which his subject has surrounded himself. What the story lacks in personal detail, however, it makes up in historical perspective, clarifying Nader's status as one of the most influential Americans of the 20th century. Agent, Lisa Swayne. (Nov.) Forecast: Those who see Nader as an icon will undoubtedly seek this out; even his enemies might check it, looking for clues to what makes him tick, but they may be disappointed. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Incredibly, there has been no biography of Ralph Nader for over 25 years. Journalist Martin, author of the well-received Greenspan: The Man Behind the Money, here addresses the life of the longtime adversary of corporate power and recent presidential candidate. Based upon hundreds of interviews with associates, family, and Nader himself, the book will reward readers with immediacy, vitality, wit, and an evenhanded portrait of a subject, churlish and heroic at once, who in the course of "a gigantic life" has fashioned an immeasurable legacy in business, law, society, and politics. Chapters on Nader's boyhood in Winsted, CT, show how his family and the town in which they settled have been constant influences. Nader's "golden age," from 1966 to 1976, was followed by many years of eclipse. But there is "something immutable" in Nader, who reemerged as a political force, as witnessed in 2000 by "Gush and Bore." Since Nader is still going strong, this book will by no means be the last word. But it is a good piece of work, highly recommended to all libraries. Robert F. Nardini, Chichester, NH Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
An eyes-wide-open portrait of "an immensely polarizing figure" whose enemies-Democratic Party loyalists, Big Three stockholders, and Corvair enthusiasts among them-are legion. Ralph Nader, writes Martin (Greenspan: The Man Behind the Money, 2000), has been a podium-pounding contrarian since at least his student days at Princeton, where he once almost ran over Albert Einstein-and, Martin gamely hints, had his first auto-safety epiphany. As a young Washington-based attorney and sometime freelance journalist, Nader gained early fame for his comprehensive attack on the auto industry, Unsafe at Any Speed, and for a well-coordinated campaign to reform auto-safety laws. That first crusade, Martin writes, "continues to pay dividends": as many as a million lives may have been saved thanks to Nader's single-minded efforts. Using the proceeds from his successful suits against Detroit carmakers to fund the consumer-advocacy law group informally dubbed "Nader's Raiders," Nader went on to incur the wrath of a host of enemies and to involve himself in dozens of causes, convinced, as he said, both that the "law was an instrument of justice" and that "I was not going to be sharp by becoming narrow." After spending years "wandering in the policy-wonk desert," Nader also became increasingly convinced that the major political parties were hopelessly corrupt. He therefore made three quixotic bids for the presidency to gain a forum for his many-sided assault on the status quo, the most recent in 2000, when he ran on the Green Party ticket (without, Martin observes, ever bothering to become a member). That effort unquestionably lost Al Gore the presidency, Martin writes, even though Nader insisted after thefact that Gore defeated himself-and prophesied during the campaign that "George Bush is so dumb, Gore will beat him by twenty points." Though anathema in a thousand quarters, Nader isn't through yet. A welcome portrait, one from which the famed gadfly's admirers and foes alike have much to learn.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780738205632
Publisher:
Basic Books
Publication date:
10/16/2002
Pages:
336
Product dimensions:
6.48(w) x 9.58(h) x 1.26(d)

Meet the Author

Justin Martin is a former staff writer at Fortune magazine whose work has also appeared in Newsweek, Worth, Travel & Leisure, and ESPN magazines. He lives in New York City.

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