Still Dreaming: My Journey from the Barrio to Capitol Hill

Overview

A candid, savvy, inspiring, and often hilarious memoir by one of America’s most fearless political leaders.
Beloved by the immigrants and working people whose rights he has championed, eleven-term Congressman Luis Gutierrez is, among Latinos and along with Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the most recognized Hispanic public figure in America.
Here Gutierrez recounts his life between two worlds: too Puerto Rican in America, where he was ...

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Still Dreaming: My Journey from the Barrio to Capitol Hill

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Overview

A candid, savvy, inspiring, and often hilarious memoir by one of America’s most fearless political leaders.
Beloved by the immigrants and working people whose rights he has championed, eleven-term Congressman Luis Gutierrez is, among Latinos and along with Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the most recognized Hispanic public figure in America.
Here Gutierrez recounts his life between two worlds: too Puerto Rican in America, where he was born and yet was told to "go back to where you came from"; too American in Puerto Rico, where he was ridiculed as a "gringo" who couldn’t speak Spanish. For much of his early life, he seemed like the last person who would rise to national prominence. Yet his tremendous will and resilience shaped his varied experiences—from picking coffee beans to driving a cab—into one of the most surprising careers in American politics. He campaigned for Chicago’s first black mayor, Harold Washington. Someone threw a Molotov cocktail through the window of his house, and he only grew more committed to reform. Tested in the crucible of the notoriously tough Chicago city council, he earned the nickname "El Gallito": the little fighting rooster.Gutierrez was one of the first Latino public figures to support gay rights; he led the fight to cut Congressional paychecks, hashed out legislation with both Ted Kennedy and John McCain, and fought with Newt Gingrich and George W. Bush. Despite his strong support for Barack Obama in two elections, he has twice been arrested while protesting for immigrants in front of the Obama White House. From recollections of his failures as a teenage activist to his crackling observations of the nautical décor in Kennedy’s office and the white-gloved waiters of the Speaker’s dining room, Gutierrez is as endearing to the reader as he is sometimes maddening to his colleagues, inspiring us all to stand up for our rights and for those of others.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
08/12/2013
Ten-term Illinois Congressman Gutierrez recounts his political evolution from campaigning for Puerto Rican independence and stumping for Harold Washington’s mayoral campaign in Chicago, to his role as a Chicago alderman and eventual rise to a spot on Capitol Hill. Gutierrez dutifully recalls the infighting and old-boy networks he’s encountered on both a local and national level, and his passion for his constituents and the Hispanic community is undeniable. Known as a champion of immigrants’ rights, as a writer, Gutierrez sometimes lets the trees get in the way of the forest, as he has a tendency to dwell on the minutiae (such as an interaction in which Barack Obama, whom Gutierrez had supported, blows him off) while letting the larger stories escape. His political career in Chicago is rendered with great detail, while his congressional campaign receives barely a mention. Readers interested in the machinations and day-to-day diplomacy of politics at all levels will likely find Gutierrez’s account to be honest and informative. Those looking for a larger picture, one of the “local boy makes good” variety, may find their patience tested, as Gutierrez’s micro-level focus tends to grind. 8 pages of photos. Agent: Ayesha Pande, Ayesha Pande Literary. (Oct.)
Booklist
“Change, Gutiérrez -style, is not a matter of hope; it’s one of force.”
Carol Felsenthal - Chicago Magazine
“[Gutiérrez is] the national voice of immigration.”
Senator Bill Bradley
“Read Still Dreaming and you’ll feel better about America. Luis Gutierrez—a man full of passion, humor, and fascinating insights—has never forgotten where he came from, even as he has ascended to the highest levels of public power. His perspective on himself and his battles enlightens even as it entertains. Make no mistake, this is the story of an extraordinary American.”
Senator Bill Bradley
“Read Still Dreaming and you’ll feel better about America. Luis Gutierrez—a man full of passion, humor, and fascinating insights—has never forgotten where he came from, even as he has ascended to the highest levels of public power. His perspective on himself and his battles enlightens even as it entertains. Make no mistake, this is the story of an extraordinary American.”
Kirkus Reviews
2013-09-15
An Illinois congressman's straight-shooting, spirited memoir about his transformation from Chicago barrio boy into dedicated champion for Latino civil rights. Gutierrez grew up the son of two working-class Puerto Rican immigrants who came to the United States to escape poverty. But instead of settling permanently on the mainland, they left Chicago to return to Puerto Rico so that their children could live apart from American street violence and acquire traditional Puerto Rican values. Suddenly, Gutierrez went from being a Latino boy with an exotic last name to a brown-skinned "gringo" who could barely speak Spanish. By the time he was in college at the University of Puerto Rico, however, Gutierrez had not only become fluent in his second language, he had also become a radicalized supporter of island independence. He finished his studies at Northeastern Illinois University and was "ready to agitate for fairness for Latinos and independence for Puerto Ricans." But before he could realize his dream, he took every kind of odd job imaginable to survive and became, among other things, a door-to-door spark plug salesman, an exterminator and a cab driver. It took getting fed up with Chicago "machine" politics to set him on the political path that would take him from city alderman and right-hand man of reformist mayor Harold Washington to congressional representative. Rather than try to "get along with people" and play the Washington power game, Gutierrez immediately made himself unpopular by calling for congressional pay freezes. He also began working on immigration reform, a cause for which he was cheerfully willing to get himself arrested. Gutierrez takes pride in his nearly 20 years of accomplishments and especially in his status as congressional gadfly. Unlike so many other political memoirists, however, he resists the temptation to use his book to memorialize his ego. Funny, feisty and heartfelt.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393088977
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 10/7/2013
  • Pages: 432
  • Sales rank: 281,687
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.40 (h) x 1.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Luis Gutierrez, a member of the U.S. House of Representatives since 1993, is frequently in the news as the national leader of the movement for immigrants’ rights in America. He lives in Chicago, Illinois, with his wife Soraida.

Doug Scofield managed Luis Gutierrez’s first congressional campaign and served as his chief of staff for ten years. He runs a political consulting and public relations firm and remains active in the debate on comprehensive immigration reform. He lives in Oak Park, Illinois, with his wife and two sons.

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