The second-term governor of Massachusetts offers a memoir distinctive for a politician's because Patrick keeps the focus on the personal, with the subtitle's lessons specified as the eight chapter titles (e.g., "Know Who You Are"). They are presented as lessons that Patrick himself learned: the chapters read as straight memoir, rather than didactic pronouncements. Patrick shows himself here to be a gifted writer. Especially engrossing are the early pages on his childhood—he summons forth all the senses as he describes 1950s–60s South Side Chicago. His father, later a notable sax player, left when Patrick was three. After eighth grade, through a teacher's guidance, Patrick was accepted on full scholarship at an elite New England boarding school, "a different planet." Even as he achieved success in the worlds of Harvard, legal practice, work as a corporate general counsel seeking to end company racial discrimination, and as the nation's first two-term black governor, Patrick presents his triumphs here as victories over his own weaknesses. His writings about his wife, Diane, are particularly touching. VERDICT Recommended to readers of memoir and to all keeping an eye on our country's past and future.—Margaret Heilbrun, Library Journal
From the Publisher
“[A Reason to Believe] . . . introduces Patrick to a national audience as an inspirational figure guided by optimism and hope who presaged the rise of President Obama.”
–The Boston Globe
Patrick shows himself here to be a gifted writer. Especially engrossing are the early pages on his childhood—he summons forth all the senses as he describes 1950s–60s South Side Chicago...Patrick presents his triumphs here as victories over his own weaknesses. His writings about his wife, Diane, are particularly touching. VERDICT Recommended to readers of memoir and to all keeping an eye on our country’s past and future. –Library Journal
“Governor Patrick’s compelling story is a reminder that no matter how unlikely a child’s future chances might seem on paper, sometimes access to the right opportunities is all it takes to allow the enormous talent and potential that is already there to thrive. A Reason to Believe is rich with the lessons Deval Patrick has learned along his journey.”
-Marian Wright Edelman, President, Children’s Defense Fund
“Patrick gives powerful voice to the reflective inner man who has a keen eye for things that really matter…A welcome celebration of idealism in a cynical time.” –Kirkus Reviews
“Patrick pays specific and warm tribute to those who helped him, from Chicago public school teachers and elite boarding school masters to families and individuals who gave him shelter, support, and assistance in Africa to an assortment of family, friends, and strangers who encouraged and assisted him, fortifying his sense of social justice, faith, and idealism.”–Booklist
“This remarkable, uplifting memoir is powerful evidence that the American dream still exists. Patrick tells his extraordinary life story with eloquence, grace, and humor, moving skillfully from start to finish between a child’s tender voice and an adult’s perspective.” —Doris Kearns Goodwin, Pulitzer Prize–winning historian and author of Team of Rivals
“This fascinating story represents a testament against the self-fulfilling cynicism that increasingly infects the American view of American politics—a testament against stupidity, a testament for honorable public service.” —Tracy Kidder, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Strength in What Remains and Mountains Beyond Mountains
“As the first black governor of Massachusetts, and as only the second African American to be elected governor in the United States, Deval Patrick is a history-making, pathbreaking figure in our state and national life. With a tremendous record of accomplishment personally, professionally, and politically, he has reason to be immodest! But what we hear instead in this moving account of this good man’s life is a voice of reason and moderation. In these turbulent times, Patrick provides us with a model of public service and a public spirit. He is an inspiration to all of us, on both sides of the aisle.” —Henry Louis Gates Jr., Alphonse Fletcher University Professor, Harvard University
“There is no more inspiring story—or more compelling storyteller—in American politics today than Deval Patrick. And in this moving memoir, he shares the lesson of a life well lived: Hope for the best, and work for it.” —David Axelrod
“I met Deval Patrick in the Spring of 1980 at Harvard Law School. I realized quickly that he was a remarkable person—confident, compassionate, and a wonderful listener. He combined a youthful energy with a sense of wisdom and balance that belied his youth. A Reason to Believe describes the unique set of experiences—both difficult and uplifting—that have forged this important and historic public servant. Governor Patrick’s book offers hope to anyone that adversity can be overcome and pain turned into perspective. It also provides a clear-eyed defense of idealism that is rooted in a basic value—everyone has something important to offer the world and the responsibility to do so.” —Tim Kaine, chairman of the Democratic National Committee
Massachusetts' first black governor debuts with a candid memoir that emphasizes how caring mentors, teachers and other adults helped shape his life and values.
Now in his second term, Patrick grew up poor on Chicago's South Side in the 1950s and '60s, attended Harvard and Harvard Law, and worked as a civil-rights advocate and corporate executive before entering politics. His father, a jazz musician and black militant, deserted the family when the author was four. Patrick, his mother and his sister moved in with his grandparents, who got by on his grandfather's wages as a bank janitor and tried to shield their grandson from racism. His grandmother always said they weren't poor—they were "broke," which allowed for the possibility of a better life, he writes. It was an early lesson in how he could shape his own destiny. A bright, ambitious loner, he learned other lessons in possibility from kind teachers, first in gang-ridden Chicago public schools and then as a scholarship student at Milton Academy in Massachusetts, where he was "saved by the love of adults." His prep-school mentors—an Old Yankee English teacher and an upper-middle-class African-American woman whose children also attended Milton—treated Patrick with affection as he struggled to bridge the worlds of poverty and privilege. Like the selfless church ladies of his childhood, they taught him "to love openly, generously, and conspicuously." In recounting his life in politics, the author explains how the qualities he admires in others, such as compassion and generosity of spirit, have sustained him amid personal attacks. By his own admission sometimes ill-tempered as a politician, Patrick gives powerful voice to the reflective inner man who has a keen eye for things that really matter. A portion of the proceeds from the book will go to the charity A Better Chance.
A welcome celebration of idealism in a cynical time.