A Reason to Believe: Lessons from an Improbable Life

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Overview

“I’ve simply seen too much goodness in this country—and have come so far in my own journey—not to believe in those ideals, and my faith in the future is sometimes restored under the darkest clouds.” —Governor Deval Patrick
 
In January 2007, Deval Patrick became the first black governor of the state of Massachusetts, one of only two black governors elected in American history. But that was just one triumphant step in a long, improbable ...

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A Reason to Believe: Lessons from an Improbable Life

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Overview

“I’ve simply seen too much goodness in this country—and have come so far in my own journey—not to believe in those ideals, and my faith in the future is sometimes restored under the darkest clouds.” —Governor Deval Patrick
 
In January 2007, Deval Patrick became the first black governor of the state of Massachusetts, one of only two black governors elected in American history. But that was just one triumphant step in a long, improbable journey that began in a poor tenement on the South Side of Chicago. From a chaotic childhood to an elite boarding school in New England, from a sojourn doing relief work in Africa to the boardrooms of Fortune 500 companies, and then to a career in politics, Patrick has led an extraordinary life. In this heartfelt and inspirational book, he pays tribute to the family, friends, and strangers who, through words and deeds, have instilled in him transcendent lessons of faith, perseverance, and friendship. In doing so, he reminds us of the power of community and the imperative of idealism. With humility, humor, and grace, he offers a road map for attaining happiness, empowerment, and success while also making an appeal for readers to cultivate those achievements in others, to feel a greater stake in this world, and to shape a life worth living.
 
Warm, nostalgic, and inspirational, A Reason to Believe is destined to become a timeless tribute to a uniquely American odyssey and a testament to what is possible in our lives and our communities if we are hopeful, generous, and resilient.

GOVERNOR DEVAL PATRICK is donating a portion of the proceeds from A REASON TO BELIEVE to A Better Chance, a national organization dedicated to opening the doors to greater educational opportunities for young people of color. To learn more, visit www.abetterchance.org.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
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

Kirkus Reviews

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.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780767931120
  • Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 4/12/2011
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 7.60 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Governor Deval Patrick was born in Chicago in 1956. After junior high school, he received a scholarship to attend Milton Academy in Massachusetts, and from there he graduated from Harvard College and Harvard Law School. He has worked as an attorney for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and was later appointed, by President Clinton, as the assistant attorney general for civil rights. Governor Patrick has also been general counsel at Texaco and Coca-Cola. In 2010, he began his second term as governor of Massachusetts.

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Table of Contents

Preface I

Chapter 1 Vision is Essential 5

Chapter 2 Know Who You Are 34

Chapter 3 Try a New Perspective 59

Chapter 4 Learn to Love 87

Chapter 5 Save a Place 115

Chapter 6 Faith is How You Live 144

Chapter 7 Overcoming Kryptonite 173

Chapter 8 In Defense of Idealism 195

Acknowledgments 225

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 12 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(6)

4 Star

(1)

3 Star

(1)

2 Star

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1 Star

(4)

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Sort by: Showing all of 12 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 18, 2011

    A WARM, WISE, FUNNY AND INSPIRING MEMOIR

    In this heartwarming and delightful memoir, Governor Deval Patrick writes about people and experiences, mostly when he was a child or a young man,that helped him grow up to be the idealistic and goodhearted person he is today. He writes of teachers who believed in him and helped him expand his horizons; of the inspiring generosity of the elderly parishioners at his childhood church; of people who reached out to him with kindness and friendship when he first came to Massachusetts as a young teenager, knowing no one; and about people of all different faiths and nationalities who welcomed him with unfailing kindness when he traveled all over Africa in a student year abroad. This book reminds us what an enormous difference we adults can make in the lives of young people when we give them our attention, our caring and our loving guidance. It also reminds us of the enormous transformtive power of everyday "small" kindnesses. And it encourages us to make idealism the "lodestar" of our personal lives and the political life of our country. This book would be a wonderful gift for Mother's Day,or for anyone to whom you want to give a gift from the heart.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 7, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Lessons ?

    Ah yes indeed: Buy this book andd learn lessons from a goveror who increased the ranks of states employees by the scores of hundreds and now wants to hire even more of them....The only lesson here is how to bring a state to bankruptcy via endless pension obligatiions that cannot be sustained. Thank you for your valuable lesssons Governor.

    3 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 13, 2011

    No

    I actually read it and it wasnt to good.

    2 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 3, 2011

    Read the book

    Without reading the book you have proven to be a worthless jerk..this is a book review, not a political blog....BTW..I am a Tim Cahill supporter but I will read the book written by our Governor...

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 21, 2011

    Inspiring Book

    I wish most of you would stick to writing about the book, and not about your political views!! The book was interesting and inspiring, and gave me some insight into how Gov. Patrick arrived at his beliefs and what shaped his life. I will purchase a couple of copies to loan to some of my students who need some inspiration and motivation. I enjoyed the book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 13, 2011

    WHY WOULD YOU GIVE HIM MORE OF YOUR HARRD EARNED MONEY

    LOOK AT THE AREAS THAT CAME OUT TO VOTE FOR HIM DOES THAT TELL YOU WHAT HE IS ALL ABOUT? DONT GIVE HIM ANOTHER THOUGHT

    1 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 13, 2011

    complete smoke and mirrors

    All the hype in the world within those pages does nothing to change the reality of his failure of an administration.

    Idealism is not a bad thing, but when in practice it turns into crony-ism, bankrupting the state, increasing the rapid exodus of business and the middle class from our cities, etc. it quickly turns sour.

    1 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 30, 2012

    I reccomend this Book Check it out and buy it

    When I bought Governor Deval Patrick,s Book I sent it to him to be autographed he said to Robert, With High Hopes ! Deval Patrick

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 22, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted December 4, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted April 27, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted December 27, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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