For 48 chapters and 12 hours, my husband and I recently listened to Al Franken’s new book published in May of 2017 entitled “Al Franken, Giant of the Senate.” His upbringing in St. Louis Park, Minnesota, also home to Thomas Friedman, Bob Dylan and a bunch of other luminaries. His rise to fame as a comedian and writer on Saturday Night Live and his eventual decision to run for the US Senate. It’s a delightful recount of an interesting life peppered with Mr. Franken’s hilarious commentary.
Of course in Mr. Franken’s subtle understated tone, he was humorously putting himself in the category of past giants of the Senate like Mike Mansfield and Lyndon Johnson among others, but what he really wanted to do was to convey to you the incredible amount of time and energy and commitment it takes to be a senator of the US and why in fact he chose to become one.
It’s not very often that a non-fiction subject can hold one’s attention for this lengthy amount of time, but, in fact, for the most part Mr. Franken who narrated the audio book did do so. He’s so funny and chatty that you just are always waiting for the next laugh. There was only one place at the end when I thought it was the conclusion and then he went on to the next chapter that I got a little anxious.
As far as how the book relates to today’s horrible divisive atmosphere, it actually encourages people to be civil, but I’m skeptical about whether the book will do that or merely “strengthen his base.” I, for one am much more moderate than Mr. Franken, but I did get some good ideas about how to be a responsible citizen.
I was surprised at how bright he was. I did not know he graduated from Harvard. I was impressed at his devotion to his constituency and his attention to their issues. I could see why he would get frustrated at not being able to get more accomplished. And I wanted to meet his wife, Franny, who has been a devoted and supportive and helpful companion for more than thirty years.
Some of the best parts of the book had to do with his first campaign when he originally lost the election and slid by with a very tiny margin after a mandatory recount reversed the results. Another highlight was his chapter when he discusses his difficulty in filtering some of the jokes he really wanted to make. I also found his relationship with President Obama interesting as well as his success in preventing AOL/Time Warner from becoming a part of the Comcast/NBC conglomerate.
I love politics so I enjoyed hearing about “the process” maybe more than others might, but Mr. Franken’s book is definitely an entertaining way to get a civics lesson and I highly recommend reading it.