An Audio-Book Review: Politics Perilous

Al Franken: Giant of the Senate

By Senator Al Franken

Published by Hachette Audio

Read by Senator Al Franken


The Book:

I cannot honestly say that I did not know what to expect when I downloaded and started listening to this book. I expected it would be an autobiography spiced up with backroom tales and Al Franken’s characteristic humor. That’s what I got and, to tell the truth, I would have been sorely disappointed if I had not. However, that does not really tell of the whole story.

A lot of senators… heck! A lot of politicians write books not only to push their own political agenda but to make a bit of extra cash while in office and any politician at the national level could fill a manuscript with Lorem Ipsum filler and I doubt they would have any trouble getting it published. In case you do not know, Lorem ipsum is ersatz-Latin filler text, originally used to display the graphic elements of a document before the accompanying text was ready. Here’s an example:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur adipiscing elit, condimentum ridiculus sociosqu sagittis eros ac non nec, nunc proin penatibus nam pharetra tempus.

There are Lorem ipsum generators available online, by the way, if you are one of the poor, only semi-literate politician and need to fill a book. Al Franken did not need such filler in his book.

For his long-time fans he does include a few chapters on Saturday Night Live as well as his career before and after his association with the show, but the main thrust of the book is his decision to go into politics, as a lIberal talk show moderator/commentator and then his run for Senator of Minnesota. He spends quite a bit of time explaining why he chose to leave show business to pursue a life of “bean feeds” and other grass roots political activities. For a while it seems like all he did was campaign especially when his first election went into super-secret overtime with not only a recount, but a court fight to contest the results that put him only 312 votes ahead of the incumbent. As a result he was not sworn in until six months after the rest of this senatorial class.

After that, Senator Franken explains how he had to learn not to be funny and explains how the Senate’s rules of behavior work, why the refer to each other as “My esteemed colleague” even when they do not esteem them very much and so forth. He also gives several examples of ways in which he got into trouble when he failed to live up to those rules and how he strove to be worthy of the title of “Senator.”

He also goes on to explain that he actually likes quite a few of his Republican colleagues even if he hopes they all lose their next elections and, in fact, in the book he really only breaks the rule of collegiality once for one particular senator (no spoilers… read it for yourself. It’s best that way).

Senator Franken manages to cover a long set of serious matters, explains how things work (above and beyond what you might have learned in middle school civics classes) why he feels about the issues he finds important and also covers the multitude of legislative matters that really are bi-partisan in spite of how it might seem while watching the evening news. And along the way, he sprinkles in the jokes and amusing stories with the pace and timing only a master of the art can.

Even if you disagree with Al Franken’s politics, I think there is a lot of valuable content in this book for anyone interested in national politics especially as it stands today. And if you find yourself consistently depressed by what has been in the news since last November. This book might be the perfect tonic.


The Audiobook:

No one else could have read this book effectively. Oh, okay, maybe other gifted actors might have, but it would never have been the same. There is no doubt that Franken’s anecdotes are being read with just the right tone whether it be sarcasm, sincerity or irony. No one reads Franken like Franken. Only he has the expressiveness, timing and the right voice… of course.

All told, I really enjoyed this book and recommend it highly.

This entry was posted in Al Franken, Audio Books, Autobiography, Books, Humor, Nonfiction, Politics, Social Commentary and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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