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A Fighting Chance
Cover of A Fighting Chance
A Fighting Chance
Borrow Borrow

An unlikely political star tells the inspiring story of the two-decade journey that taught her how Washington really works—and really doesn't As a child in small-town Oklahoma, Elizabeth Warren yearned to go to college and then become an elementary school teacher—an ambitious goal, given her family's modest means. Early marriage and motherhood seemed to put even that dream out of reach, but fifteen years later she was a distinguished law professor with a deep understanding of why people go bankrupt. Then came the phone call that changed her life: could she come to Washington DC to help advise Congress on rewriting the bankruptcy laws? Thus began an impolite education into the bare-knuckled, often dysfunctional ways of Washington. She fought for better bankruptcy laws for ten years and lost. She tried to hold the federal government accountable during the financial crisis but became a target of the big banks. She came up with the idea for a new agency designed to protect consumers from predatory bankers and was denied the opportunity to run it. Finally, at age 62, she decided to run for elective office and won the most competitive—and watched—Senate race in the country. In this passionate, funny, rabble-rousing book, Warren shows why she has chosen to fight tooth and nail for the middle class—and why she has become a hero to all those who believe that America's government can and must do better for working families.

An unlikely political star tells the inspiring story of the two-decade journey that taught her how Washington really works—and really doesn't As a child in small-town Oklahoma, Elizabeth Warren yearned to go to college and then become an elementary school teacher—an ambitious goal, given her family's modest means. Early marriage and motherhood seemed to put even that dream out of reach, but fifteen years later she was a distinguished law professor with a deep understanding of why people go bankrupt. Then came the phone call that changed her life: could she come to Washington DC to help advise Congress on rewriting the bankruptcy laws? Thus began an impolite education into the bare-knuckled, often dysfunctional ways of Washington. She fought for better bankruptcy laws for ten years and lost. She tried to hold the federal government accountable during the financial crisis but became a target of the big banks. She came up with the idea for a new agency designed to protect consumers from predatory bankers and was denied the opportunity to run it. Finally, at age 62, she decided to run for elective office and won the most competitive—and watched—Senate race in the country. In this passionate, funny, rabble-rousing book, Warren shows why she has chosen to fight tooth and nail for the middle class—and why she has become a hero to all those who believe that America's government can and must do better for working families.

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  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from July 28, 2014
    Warren, a rising star in progressive political circles who parlayed her decades of work as a legal scholar with a focus on consumer rights into a successful run for the U.S. Senate in Massachusetts, offers a fiery stump-speech style of delivery, in keeping with her populist persona. Even though she downplays her celebrity status and confesses to having serious stage fright during her initial national media appearances, Warren possesses a graceful ease in the recording booth. Her narration conveys the poise of an accomplished attorney and Harvard professor and the humble frankness of her working-class roots. Warren’s colloquialisms—e.g., “hurrican’ ”—seem to flow naturally, without any hint of affectation. She doesn’t shy away from a tone of righteous anger, particularly when it comes to lobbying by the banking industry. Nor is Warren afraid raise her voice as she names the leaders with whom she has butted heads. But she also makes a point to temper that emotion with touches of humility and humor. A Metropolitan hardcover.

  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from April 21, 2014
    Warren, the freshman senator from Massachusetts turned Democratic rock star, serves up a frank and lively account of how she became the banking and finance industry's fiercest nemesis. Warren's passion is rooted in her personal history. As a young girl in her native Oklahoma, she saw her family's fortunes nose dive after her father's heart attack, losing their car and almost their house and forcing her mother back into the job market at age 50. Warren puts herself through college, marries, grows weary of stay-at-home motherhood, and fatefully decides to enroll in law school, inspired by "television lawyers who were always fighting to defend good people who needed help." She develops an expertise in bankruptcy, becoming one of the country's go-to experts. In these pages, she displays a down-home charm and an effortless rapport with everyday people that makes her story more engaging than the average political tome. Her sketches of the powerful, among them President Barack Obama, the late Ted Kennedy, Timothy Geithner, provide a feel for the ups and downs of inside the Beltway relationships. Yet the pivotal, often vicious campaign battle with former Bay State senator Scott Brown that catapulted her into the U.S. Senate is an almost anti-climactic footnote to her fight to set up her baby, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The book is more memoir than manifesto; Warren emerges as a committed advocate with real world sensibility, who tasted tough economic times at an early age and did not forget its bitterness.

  • AudioFile Magazine This book could be subtitled "The Making of a Populist" as Elizabeth Warren describes her journey from struggling homemaker to U.S. senator (Democrat, Massachusetts). Ultimately, it was her interest in bankruptcy law and its impact on everyday people that propelled her onto the national stage. Warren narrates this memoir herself, and, as a polished political speaker, she delivers the material well. She's especially good at projecting emotions: Her anger at the insensitive credit industry is palpable. And her sadness over the death of her father is wrenching. The flow of the book is hurt slightly by the chapter subtitles, which interrupt the narrative when listening. However, this minor weakness does not blunt Warren's powerful call to action. R.C.G. © AudioFile 2014, Portland, Maine
  • Library Journal

    Starred review from July 1, 2014

    Senator Warren's (Prosperity, Peace, Respect) latest book, her fifth, is a memoir that provides an accessible and intriguing look into some of the most important domestic political issues of the past decade and the related maneuvering, negotiation, and political machinations of Washington. Warren makes a strong case that the story behind these issues, mostly related to financial regulation, should interest all Americans, regardless of political affiliation. In the beginning of the book, listeners will hear the story of her early life, both her blue-collar roots and her education, but Warren hits her stride and seems especially to enjoy the storytelling once she comes to the battles that have pulled her into a political career. The author comes across as humble and unapologetically down-home but also fierce and savvy, in spite of her outsider status in our nation's capital. Her political narrative relating her start in politics to her participation in the creation of Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is straightforward without being dumbed down. The personal elements of her history are at times genuinely moving, as when she talks about her relationship with her father and her mother's return to work after the family suffered financial setbacks. Warren herself reads, which lends warmth, liveliness, and passion to her writing. If her political career and influence continue to expand, as many expect it to, this memoir's already considerable appeal will only increase. VERDICT Consider strongly for all libraries. ["Lay readers and business students who need to understand how banking and lending regulation and legislation are enacted will appreciate the personal stories Warren uses to demonstrate the problems borrowers encounter, the solutions she worked for, and the disappointments she met along the way," read the review of the Metropolitan hc, LJ 5/15/14.]--Heather Malcolm, Bow, WA

    Copyright 2014 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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