Burgs Sunday book review
Reviewed by Paul Metz of Blacksburg. He recently retired after 33 years with the University Libraries at Virginia Tech.
Although a title like “The Real Romney” may whet the reader’s appetite for a gotcha expose of someone living a lie, such is neither the intent nor the effect of this workmanlike 360 degree survey of the background, character, and career of this potential 45th president of the United States.
Instead, the book simply lays out a story of “a man guided by his faith and firmly grounded in family . . . Mormonism . . . the counterculture movement of the 1960s and the proudly square young man who found it appalling….the wildly lucrative world of private equity….and an uneasy relationship between conviction and vaulting ambition.”
Carefully researched and conscientiously footnoted, Kranish and Helman’s study benefits greatly from the input of their colleagues at The Boston Globe. Since both Romney’s elective career to date and his work for Bain Capital are local stories from a Boston perspective, it would be hard to imagine anyone in a better position to lift the veil that Romney’s inherently private character, his “once bitten twice shy” caution about public statements, his longstanding practice of changing positions on basic issues as opportunity suggests, and the simple distance his outsized wealth puts between him and the average voter. That they succeed only partially is attributable to the size of the challenge itself and their obvious efforts to be balanced even when the careful reader can see that their conclusions are often very critical.
Among the many things I learned about Romney were his passionate devotion to his father George, his model and mentor, and to the wife he wooed assiduously, even desperately, over considerable time and distance; the long history of his family as an important force within the Mormon Church; and the diamond sharpness of his intelligence, whether applied to academic success in one of Harvard’s most competitive programs or to the turnaround of floundering businesses. I learned that he is funny, corny, and warm with close associates and family, but that with those outside this circle he can be socially clueless, mean-spirited, and utterly self-absorbed.
Overall, I could not escape the conclusion that more of a sense of what is “real” about Romney has managed to seep into the public consciousness than one might have thought. True, few of us know the details as they are so competently laid out in this book. We also know that our perceptions of Romney have been carefully screened and manipulated for years. Yet despite these handicaps, many people reading “The Real Romney” will, I think, share my feeling that they already knew who this guy was – for good and for bad – and that reading the book only added interesting detail and validated many of the perceptions and concerns people feel about this man whose most defining characteristic is the unwavering conviction that he has the answers we so badly need.
-If you would like to be a guest reviewer, e-mail email@example.com.
No Comments »
No comments yet.