How did a disheveled, intellectually combative gay Jew with a thick New Jersey-Massachusetts accent become one of the most effective politicians of his time? In this candid and witty political memoir, Barney Frank relates his journey from the outskirts of New York City to Boston's City Hall and the Massachusetts legislature, and then to the US Congress, where he played a vital role in the struggle for personal freedom and economic fairness over four decades. With his trademark directness and insight, Frank explores the emotional toll of living in the closet and how he became the first member of Congress to disclose his homosexuality voluntarily. And he chronicles his lifelong struggle against inequality, which culminated in cowriting the most significant Wall Street regulations since the Great Depression. He also demonstrates how he used his rhetorical skills to expose his opponents's hypocrisies and delusions and details the endless favors, grudges, and fears that compose a legislator's career. From the Clinton impeachment to the economic meltdown of 2008 to the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell", Frank's words and deeds mattered, and Frank shows why. Here is a guide to how political change really happens, composed by a master of the art, and a testament to how Democrats, if they reject purism and passivity, can rebuild trust in an active government.
©2015 Barney Frank (P)2015 Macmillan Audio
Near or at the very top!
I gained an appreciation for the man's talents as he rose in the House over a 40 year period of adversity and success through hard work and honesty to himself and his beliefs.
Barney is a tough slog but I wouldn't have had it any other way. I am so glad he read it himself. People reading the book in print are missing out terribly.
Not a reasonable consideration. Although it might be a the kind of challenge comparable to reading Moby Dick once yearly in New Bedford.
I have always admired Barney Frank. I like him more than ever.
I'm just a dumb troglodyte who like reading. Me feel good after I read book.
Barney Frank’s biography is a no holds barred tour de force overview of his 32 years as an elected representative. After just completing David Axelrod’s overly cautious autobiography, it was refreshing to read Frank’s take no prisoner’s bio. Frank is a gruff unapologetic left wing liberal who changed the culture of the country based on his progressive ideology. He admits to numerous mistakes, making many enemies, and taking pride in pissing off others. He was also one of the most effective members in the history of the House of Representatives who was the champion to the LBGT community.
The most interesting part of “Frank” is to witness his transition from a desperately closeted gay politician at the start of his career to the de facto LBGT spokesperson by the end of his 32 year reign. His energy and bare knuckles battling to protect the rights of others and fight all forms of discrimination for the LBGT community is inspiring and serves as an important history lesson. Frank also documents many political events he affected: Clinton Impeachment, Financial Reform, and Affirmative Action.
Overall, I was immensely entertained and educated by Frank. He provides insights to people, politics, and the political process that are unique and brutally honest. Frank also admits that his diction is very poor. Considering he narrates the book, this diction problem only adds to the character of the narrative.
Say something about yourself!
I recommend this without reservation if you want to know "an insiders" view of the political history of the past 50 years. An added bonus was the author reading his own work - not 5 stars but 10.
I teach middle school ancient history in Palm Beach, FL. I mix serious history with mysteries and particularly enjoy "The Great Courses."
We know Barney Frank as America’s most prominent gay politician, but it is easy to forget that he spent more than half of his life in the closet. The book is yet another reminder of what it is like to be a minority. The rest of us as can have as much or little empathy as we want, but a fourteen-year-old boy in 1954 didn’t have many options.
Barney Frank lays open his flaws bluntly and with the humor he is known for. I vaguely recalled a scandal involving a male prostitute, and wondered how Barney would narrate that portion of his life. He did so with honesty and a bit of self-loathing.
Barney frankly describes what it was like to be what he describes as “an LGBT person” in an era when it was mocked. Throughout the book, he describes both his role and his failures bluntly. I was impressed with his prudence. He described the three relationships in his life with affection but great discretion. It made me feel better that he shared my revulsion at the actions of the radicals in his community. Even the most die-hard traditionalist among his reader would have to admire Frank’s great affection for his husband, Jim.
Barney is intensely patriotic. He patiently walks the reader through the political battles of the last quarter century. Frank settles no scores and the only person he skewers is himself. (Okay, he nails Dick Cheney a few times, but he also speaks of Cheney’s surprising moderation on LGBT issues.)
His moderation was the biggest surprise of the book. Barney Frank has spent a lifetime working within the system to make the world a better place. He doesn’t mention Bernie Sanders, but his after reading his book, I understand Barney’s support of Hillary Clinton.
If he were twenty years older or younger another person would have played his role on the national stage. Barney Frank’s story is a snapshot of the thirty-year period that began with his election and that of Ronald Reagan in 1980. His book provides a unique insight to that era.
Frank’s graveled rhoticity can be endearing to those of use who admire him, but Barney frequently ignores his mother’s admonition to slow down. If you choose to listen to the audiobook, you will have to rewind a lot. Barney Frank makes Vito Corleone sound like Henry Higgins.
In the top rank
If you are at all interested in politics--or, perhaps, especially if you are disgusted by the whole business--you should read this autobiography of Barney Frank, narrated by the former congressman himself. It's chock full of wisdom and analytical insights about legislating and governance that could have come only from first-hand experience digested by a first-rate mind.
Frank is rigorous in assessing politicians' (include first and foremost his own) and voters' motives, and defends the pragmatic ethics necessary to doing the hard work of legislating. As a participant in the Civil Rights Movement and as a foremost champion of LGBT rights, he has a keen and accurate sense of way social movements must navigate public opinion and law-making. His book also contains a very clear and succinct summary of the role of political action (and inaction) in the 2008 financial crisis and its aftermath, including the financial reform bill he tried to author.
If, for the sake of our civic health, I could wave a wand and make all Americans read one book, it would be this one. Barney Frank never finished his dissertation in political science, but this book is better than the typical annual output of the entire profession taken together.
Oh, I almost forgot to mention: Frank is funny, dropping his best one-liners into the narration at frequent intervals. I think it's partly his sense of humor that allows him to be so intellectually honest... er, frank.
I like hearing Frank on the new, etc. But he needs a better editor and, much better co author. We miss you being in Congress. And my best to you and your husband.
A murder mystry low on gore.
Did not finish part 1.
More laughs and much more political stratagies for Liberal Democrats, such as yourself and me.
Barney, writing is harder than speaking for you. Stick to your STRENGTHS. I would pay to go to any event where that event is Portland, Oregon.
excellent perspective and wonderful anecdotes delivered in Barney Frank's unique style. very enjoyable, particularly as someone who likes Frank's voice. Would listen again.
Greedy, voracious reader since age five. After a number of eye injuries & surgeries, reading is hard. So now, I listen.
He's hilarious! Often it's his rapier wit, sometimes it's his speaking, which sounds like a bulldog gargling marbles. The Congressman I admired for many years-- intelligent, funny, a fantastic debater, a totally dedicated voice for the disenfranchised-- is fully exposed in this book, his missteps and insecurities as well as his triumphs. I miss seeing him give interviews on the daily Washington mess and I wonder sadly if he is the last such character we will have in the Congress. They all seem to go there now to get rich.
This book is a great piece of history, especially on the 2008 financial meltdown. Frank was chairman of the Financial Services committee, so he was in the thick of it and the insider's view here is excellent. Also very instructive on the day-to-day biz of getting legislation passed. I highly recommend this book! May you have a long and happy retirement, Congressman Frank!
Being from Massachusetts, It was excellent to hear the facts and inside details of all of the political stories from the last forty years!
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