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.
It all makes for a compelling story from a man who seemed to transition seamlessly from parodying politicians on SNL to becoming one ... It’s not a humor book, but it is a funny book – often a riotously funny book, especially in the footnotes – but it also is deadly serious when it comes to Franken’s devotion to liberal causes and to making a difference in the lives of the people he represents in Congress ... It’s also notable for something else: Franken writes about his mistakes once he got to the Senate, including a memorable moment when he was being too smart-alecky for his own good during a hearing and a staffer slipped him a note telling him he was being an (expletive). It would be easy to deride this effort as too 'inside baseball' for the average reader and if it were just any politician, that might be a fair criticism. But in Franken’s hands, and through his gifted satirical eye, it is an entertaining look at how politics actually works. Or at least how it can work.
...[an] excellent, insightful memoir ... Not surprisingly, Franken is quite a raconteur, and he tells the story of his remarkable life and times with a sense of humor that is always irreverent and often self-deprecating.
On the face of it, this is a typical ‘onward and upward’ story, but Franken delivers it with his irrepressible, self-deprecating Minnesota brand of ironic humor, spicing it up by skewering people like Ted Cruz and Rush Limbaugh with their own statements, laying out the absurdity of much of today’s conservative agenda, and projecting a common-sense, progressive approach to politics and policy … Franken spends a good number of pages on how he functions as a United States senator, offering inside information and providing us with useful tips … Franken’s account is peppered with many funny stories and commentaries about the politicians we read about in the papers.
If anything, the author comes off as affable without being overly yielding, friendly but ready to scrap, and an unabashed devotee of the 'Hillary Model': 'Be a workhorse, not a showhorse. Go to all your hearings. Come early, stay late. Do your homework. Don’t do national press. Be accessible to your state media and to your constituents.' And though he allows that Republicans 'are just awful,' he also holds that Democrats have to accommodate the fact that they exist and try to get things done with them—all except maybe Ted Cruz. Here’s how the sausage is made on Capitol Hill—and in Franken’s case, made with a smile.