"Pete Buttigieg has given more to his community and country before his 40th birthday than most of us do over the course of our lives. At every crossroads, he has turned towards service and leveraged his energy and intellect to help his neighbors and fellow citizens. In this book, you will not only learn about what brings Pete home, but what drives him towards his vision of a better, kinder nation."
"Since Buttigieg launched his campaign for the presidency last year, I have read or reread much of what he has written, at Harvard and since. Most notable is his excellent memoir
Shortest Way Home, with its lyrical evocations of the Indiana landscape, its vivid account of military life in Afghanistan, its rollicking tales of campaign stops featuring Deep Fried Turkey Testicles and peanut-butter-and-bacon sandwiches dusted with powdered sugar, and its incisive analysis of the rewards and frustrations of life as mayor of a small city…. In one of the most powerful passages in Shortest Way Home, Buttigieg points out that there is no formula for resolving the tradeoffs required in government. Data cannot yield answers to questions about who should suffer, and how much, when competing policies are debated."
Commonweal - James T. Cloppenberg
Shortest Way Home: One Mayor’s Challenge and a Model for America’s Future (Liveright) is the best written of all these books [by 2020 presidential candidates]; it offers the most unembarrassed political hope; and it’s got the best love story.... Buttigieg’s stirring, honest, and often beautiful book is a story of how the people of South Bend rebuilt their Rust Belt city, and made it a better place, and it’s an argument for what it means to answer a calling, and why it’s important to ask, again and again, ‘what each of us owes to the country.'"
"If you were an early Barack Obama supporter a dozen or more years ago, you recall inching forward in your chair whenever he spoke. The words were so clear, the passion so strong, the message of hope so credible…. I suggest you watch the video of Pete Buttigieg at a CNN town hall. If that piques your interest, as it did mine, read his book,
Shortest Way Home."
No one would ever accuse Buttigieg of being an evocative writer, but the story is told with brisk engagementit is difficult not to like himwithout sinking into the kind of prose one might fear from someone trained in writing reports for McKinsey. He writes with particular clarity when it comes to the subject of romance…When Obama wrote his memoir, the idea that the nation would soon put an African-American in the White House seemed beyond the realm of the possible. After reading this memoir written 25 years later, the notion that Buttigieg might be the nation's first openly gay president doesn't feel quite as far-fetched.
The New York Times Book Review - Adam Nagourney
Buttigieg, mayor and native of South Bend, Ind., manifests a decent, positive, and reflective presence in this upbeat and readable memoir, which follows a career path that recently landed him on the short list for chair of the Democratic National Committee at the age of 36. In seven sections, the narrative retraces his life so far: after Catholic school, Buttigieg attended Harvard, where the Institute of Politics afforded him the chance to observe some leaders and public servants up close, and was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford. These academic credentials led to a job with McKinsey & Company after a stint campaigning for John Kerry in 2004, during which he cultivated a taste for public office and enlisted in the Navy Reserves. Three years into his first mayoral term, he was called up for a seven-month deployment in Afghanistan in 2013, which spurred new insights on being of service and on foreign relations. After his service, he came out to his parents and then the city (via a newspaper editorial) and met and married his husband, Chasten, about whose family he writes warmly. In the final section, he discusses how “obvious” it seems to him that “economic fairness and racial inclusion could resonate very well in the industrial Midwest.” Buttigieg’s memoir is an appealing introduction of its author to a larger potential constituency. (Jan.)
"In a sense, Buttigieg’s book is a kind of antidote to J.D. Vance’s
Hillbilly Elegy, a story of broken people in a broken place.... This is a comeback story of a place that got hit hard, survived and then began thriving again.... It’s entirely true that a leap from mayor to president has been impossible in the past. But these pages make a pretty good case that city halls just might be better training schools for the presidency than attendance at any five years of congressional hearings combined. "
"In this uplifting coming-of-age memoir from the American heartland, Pete Buttigieg, successful mayor of revitalized South Bend, Indiana, writes that the shortest distance between opportunity and success, ‘like good literature, takes personal lived experience as its starting point’—a promising axiom for a prospective national figure."
"Mika and I have been overwhelmed by the reaction Pete Buttigieg got after being on the show. The only other time in twelve years that we heard from as many people about a guest was after Barack Obama appeared on
Morning Joe. "
"[Buttigieg] has an extraordinary story and great insights into the politics of our country."
"Combining candor and compassion with a brilliant understanding of how government can be more effective,
Shortest Way Home demonstrates that Pete Buttigieg is not only a key political figure in his generation, but also an appealing and even funny writer. Far from a conventional politician's book, his work is an important entry in the American political tradition for the twenty-first century."
"Personal, beguiling and quite moving as he talks about coming out and getting married… The story is told with brisk engagement — it is difficult not to like him…When Obama wrote his memoir, the idea that the nation would soon put an African-American in the White House seemed beyond the realm of the possible. After reading this memoir written 25 years later, the notion that Buttigieg might be the nation’s first openly gay president doesn’t feel quite as far-fetched."
"The best American political autobiography since Barack Obama’s
Dreams from My Father.... Buttigieg writes unusually well for a politician.... Is it too much to imagine that America could elect a gay president? I don’t think so.... Especially a man like this."
As mayor of his hometown of South Bend, IN, Buttigieg used his experiences as a business analyst, naval intelligence officer, Harvard graduate, and Rhodes Scholar to reinvent what had once been described as a dying city. Now in his late 30s, the author tells how he followed an unpredictable path back to his roots and details his journey into politics. His first campaign experience was to run for Indiana state treasurer in 2010. Following that unsuccessful campaign, Buttigieg decided to run for mayor of South Bend. In this role, he faced the challenges of mostly empty storefronts and long-abandoned and deteriorating industrial structures. Along the way, as a navy reserve lieutenant, Buttigieg was deployed to Afghanistan for seven months as a counterterrorism specialist while his deputy mayor filled in for him in South Bend. At the end of his deployment, Buttigieg decided to be honest about his sexuality, marrying his partner, Chasten Glezman, in 2018.
VERDICT Buttigieg, a rising political star who was reelected mayor in 2016, offers an engaging story and guidance for nontraditional approaches to municipal leadership. Readers interested in politics, urban planning, and coming-of-age stories will especially enjoy this personal history. —Jill Ortner, SUNY Buffalo Libs.
The young mayor of South Bend, Indiana, now in his second term, explains what mayors do and offers ideas for the country as a whole.
Being a mayor, writes Buttigieg—"Budda-judge," he writes of the phonetics, "was close enough and easier to remember than any other way we could think to write it down"—is a constant, grueling act of juggling constituencies while being sure they all have access so they can express their viewpoints and concerns. So it was in the matter of a seemingly small order of mayoral business: namely, renaming a South Bend street to honor Martin Luther King Jr. The city had one such street already, but it was less than a mile long and had no buildings along its route that bore its address. It would have been easy enough to act by fiat, writes the author, but opening the door to comment meant that every proposed renaming "met a new angle of resistance." Enter lawyers, business owners, residents, and assorted other people before a downtown street, one of many bearing the name of a patron saint, was finally designated. It took four years, writes Buttigieg, "or twenty, depending on how you start the clock." The process may have been painful, but in the end, it was successful and had a happy ending. Not so with every episode the author recounts. As he astutely notes, handling a mayorship and the challenges of reckoning with the "primacy of the everyday" can be like "changing channels every five minutes between
The Wire, Parks and Recreation, and, occasionally, Veep." Buttigieg's memoir/policy manual has all the signs of a book meant to position a candidate nationally, and his easy movement among and membership in many constituencies (gay, military veteran, liberal, first-generation American, etc.) suggests an interesting political future.
For the moment, a valuable rejoinder to like-minded books by Daniel Kemmis, Mitch Landrieu, and other progressive city-scale CEOs.