The Whole Damn Deal: Robert Strauss and the Art of Politics [NOOK Book]

Overview


Robert S. Strauss was for many decades the quintessential Democratic power broker. Born to a poor Jewish family in West Texas, he founded the law firm that became Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld, and—while forever changing the nature of the Washington law firm—worked as chairman of the Democratic National Committee, special trade representative, ambassador to the Soviet Union and then Russia, and an advisor to presidents. As former first lady Barbara Bush wrote of Strauss in her memoir: “He is absolutely ...
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The Whole Damn Deal: Robert Strauss and the Art of Politics

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Overview


Robert S. Strauss was for many decades the quintessential Democratic power broker. Born to a poor Jewish family in West Texas, he founded the law firm that became Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld, and—while forever changing the nature of the Washington law firm—worked as chairman of the Democratic National Committee, special trade representative, ambassador to the Soviet Union and then Russia, and an advisor to presidents. As former first lady Barbara Bush wrote of Strauss in her memoir: “He is absolutely the most amazing politician. He is everybody’s friend and, if he chooses, could sell you the paper off your own wall.”

But it isn’t the positions Strauss held that make his story fascinating; it is what he represented about the culture of Washington in his day. He was a master of the art of knowing everyone who mattered and getting things done. Based on exclusive access to Strauss, The Whole Damn Deal brings to life a vanished epoch of working behind the scenes, political deal making, and successful bipartisanship in Washington.

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Editorial Reviews

Stephen Hess
In the world of the theatre there are hundreds of books written about great stars. How many books have been written about great stage managers? It's the same on the political stage. Publishers, editors and agents do not encourage striving young authors to do a biography of someone who is unknown to most potential book buyers. Robert Strauss? Blank stare. This is too bad. As Kathryn J. McGarr skillfully shows, Strauss…was a vivid personality when on the stage, and fun to read about. But people like Strauss also have had a unique role in American public life, which is important to understand, and extends McGarr's book beyond one man's story.
—The Washington Post
From the Publisher

The Weekly Standard, October 3, 2011
“Kathryn McGarr brings sprightly writing and strong narrative drive to her tale, which represents a valuable contribution to the ledger of Washington life in the waning decades of the 20th century….Throughout his quarter-century on the Washington scene, Strauss clearly was a man of his time and milieu: more powerful than many, more effective than most, and more amusing and heartwarming than just about anybody. He operated in a time that is long gone now, but well worth remembering.”

The Hill, September 17, 2011
“A fascinating and well-written book about one of the most interesting — and, yes, important — figures on the national political landscape in the last third of the 20th century.”

The Washington Examiner
“McGarr has done extensive research, writes gracefully and does not shy away from critical judgments about her subject….This is a fine book which puts into print many facts and stories which might otherwise be lost—an excellent contribution to history.”

Kirkus Reviews

A well-paced, exhaustively researched biography of Robert Strauss, the well-connected lawyer, politician, businessman and diplomat known in some circles as "Mr. Democrat."

Readers interested in national politics will find McGarr's first book packed with compelling stories about her subject's varied and intriguing career, the evolution of the Democratic Party from the 1950s to the '90s and the changing tone in Washington during the same period. A wealthy and successful Texas lawyer who began his career as an FBI agent, Strauss established himself as an important figure in state politics by the '50s, served as Chairman of the Democratic National Committee from 1972 to 1977, U.S. Trade Representative and special envoy to the Middle East under President Carter and U.S. ambassador to the Soviet Union and, later, Russia under President George H.W. Bush. By disclosing her close personal connection to her subject in the book's introduction—Strauss is McGarr's great-uncle—the author is clearly attempting to de-fang potential critics. McGarr likely learned this handy trick from "Uncle Bob" himself. As she frequently notes, despite having come under occasional fire for influence-peddling throughout his years in politics, Strauss' disarmingly frank manner kept his reputation virtually unsullied. Though ingratiating, McGarr's candor about her relationship to her subject nevertheless casts doubt on her portrayal of a man toward whom she clearly feels deep affection and loyalty. Her exclusive access to Strauss himself—as well as to dozens of high-level politicians and media personalities who worked with him—both strengthens the book and undermines it. Though enriched by many funny, revealing quotes and anecdotes, the book draws heavily on material almost exclusively provided by people who like and admire the subject. By all accounts, including McGarr's, Strauss has a Texas-sized personality and an ego to match. Many of his business dealings were ethical only in the sense that he never believed he was doing anything wrong. McGarr seems at pains to argue that, even if Strauss' actions weren't always strictly above-board, his intentions were. It is worth reading the book to decide whether Strauss is a wise elder statesman of a bygone era or merely an effective practitioner of politics as usual.

Neatly structured and highly readable debut featuring a commanding central figure.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781586488789
  • Publisher: PublicAffairs
  • Publication date: 10/11/2011
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 480
  • Sales rank: 1,081,992
  • File size: 3 MB

Meet the Author

Kathryn J. McGarr received her BA in history from Stanford University and an MS in journalism from Columbia University where she was awarded the Lynton Fellowship for book writing. Her work has appeared in Politico, among other places.

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