Reviewed in the United States on August 28, 2018
Note to "reviewers" leaving one star because they actually believe the made-up Facebook memes about Warren instead of bothering to do their own research and, y'know, read books: here's your chance.
Author Antonia Felix has written books on women in politics from all ends of the political spectrum, from Condoleezza Rice, to Sonia Sotomayor, to Michelle Obama, to Laura Bush. Now Elizabeth Warren gets her treatment.
Felix documents Warren's journey from a teenage Oklahoma conservative and "Betty Crocker Homemaker of Tomorrow" pin-winner (LOL in hindsight) teasing her Democratic best friend for having "socialist" friends, to working with families going through bankruptcy, through her own research realizing that more often than not it wasn't their fault, and having a 180-degree turn in politics because of it (though she was never more than a moderate Republican when there was such a thing).
As I already read Warren's own memoir, "A Fighting Chance," I already knew most of her story, but there are plenty of new interviews with her friends, colleagues, fellow high school and college debaters who respected her immensely, and students. The "Native American issue" is thoroughly discussed (short answer: although she doesn't appear to have documented heritage despite what her family told her, interviews with genealogists said things could get murky back then, so you never know for sure, and no, DNA tests do not work for Native American heritage. However, all of the people who hired her- including a former Reagan staffer- said her heritage literally never came up during the hiring process. And there was never any "race-based scholarship," either. So guess what: don't believe every tweet/meme you read on the internet!)
Hers is definitely the story of "nevertheless, she persisted": her father had a heart attack and couldn't work, so her mother did, and so did Elizabeth by waitressing starting at age 13. Her family couldn't afford to send her to college (and her mother thought Elizabeth should just "marry a good man" instead), so Elizabeth secretly applied for debate scholarships. Then in college, dropped out at 19 to get married. But she still wanted to be a teacher, so finished her degree. So she became a teacher... then got pregnant and wasn't asked back. So she went to law school to become a lawyer instead... then got pregnant again, so hung up a shingle and practiced law out of her living room. Eventually, she became a law professor at a time when there weren't many women there. She got divorced from the man who resented her working (Elizabeth blamed herself for the breakup of that marriage), was a single mom for a while, remarried, worked her way up the academic ladder in more and more prestigious schools, became a top expert in bankruptcy law, eventually ended up at Harvard, and won several teaching awards. Her efforts as a professor to stop credit card companies from passing a bankruptcy law likely saved thousands of Americans from homelessness, even if it ultimately passed in the mid-2000s. Basically, anyone who was able to file for bankruptcy relief in the mid-1990s to mid-2000s and keep their house have her to thank, but many probably don't even know it. In fact, they may be the same ones spreading those dumb memes abut her today.
In 2008, the economy crashed, and she was called back to Washington to oversee TARP. She was "supposed" to go easy on fellow Democrats like Secretary of the Treasury Tim Geithner, but didn't, much to their chagrin. Her grilling sessions rocketed her to political stardom. She pushed for the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and was passed over for heading it, primarily because she'd go after too MANY scammers, and that scared Republicans. So, in 2012 at age 62, she ran for office for the first time in her life... and won.
Four stars because as other reviewers have said, it ends abruptly (this is current events, after all), and the writing style can be dry at times. It's more "fun" to listen to Warren herself tell her own story in "A Fighting Chance" (if you haven't listened to the audiobook, do!)
Will she run for president? The pundits like to think so, because 2020 horse-race talk always gets ratings. She says she's not, much like she said she wasn't in 2016 (and guess what, she didn't). Also, this country is still sexist as heck (just compare when Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders post about the same subject on social media on the same day. Guess who gets waaaaaaaay more negative comments). And as soon as women are perceived as "seeking power," the pitchforks come out. Tale as old as time with well-documented evidence behind the phenomenon. So: we'll see. But it would require people to look past made-up memes and read things for themselves.
(I received a free ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review).