Al Franken’s political memoir does what so many outsider politicians have failed to do: It demystifies politics while making a surprisingly strong—and surprisingly moving—case on behalf of political engagement. Partly masquerading as a satire of the political memoir (easily the worst genre publishing has to offer), it’s a clear-eyed look at how things work in Washington and, most importantly, how frustrating it is when they don’t. It’s also funny, the surest sign that Franken may actually be a regular person ... Franken’s first campaign is fascinating. It’s about the incredible indignities of running for office, which are only tempered by the connections he makes with voters and the dedicated staffers who work to get him elected ... Franken’s treatment of Ted Cruz, which has already been much-discussed online, is a truly great addition to the ever-growing body of literature about how much Ted Cruz sucks.
Franken’s clever asides can’t always salvage his stale recitations of liberal talking points, which seem likely to persuade precisely no one who isn’t already a member of the choir. (Even with jokes, is anyone buying this book because he wants to read a seven-page argument against media consolidation?) In the end, this is a book your liberal aunt will love and your Republican neighbor will never pick up, much less enjoy. It’s not as funny as the best humor books, including Franken’s — but it’s a whole lot funnier than your average political memoir.
It may also be the funniest memoir by a sitting — standing, recumbent, squatting — U.S. senator. Scratch that 'may.' It surely is ... Whatever you make of his politics, Franken tells a great story. He can (for the most part) make the nitty-gritty of politics and legislating good reading. His partisanship is fierce and occasionally strident, but he doesn’t indulge in the smugness and condescension that are often characteristic of the muscular, progressive liberal. Republicans ought to read this book, if only on the principle of Know Thy Enemy. And make no mistake, Republicans: Franken is your enemy. But a mensch.