A memoir by the late Congressman details how his experiences as a sharecroppers' son in volatile South Baltimore shaped his life in activism, explaining how government oversight can become a positive part of a just American collective.
Like the man at its center, We're Better Than This: My Fight for the Future of Our Democracy is impressive on multiple levels ... It is a compelling memoir, highlighting some of the formative experiences that shaped Elijah Cummings, a son of sharecroppers who would go on to become one of the most influential members of Congress. It is an urgent call to action, imploring us to defend our democracy as it is assailed by threats internal and external. And, perhaps above all, it is a poignant reminder of just how much the nation lost with his death ... Cummings provides an insider's view on his committee's efforts to do its job of both oversight and reform — a task made more difficult by endless obstruction from the administration and GOP. He shares his perspective on an array of hearings that captured the national spotlight ... Not all of Cummings' political life took place in the halls of Congress, however, and he writes movingly about Baltimore ... Such warmth is unsurprising in a book replete with examples of the Congressman's remarkable empathy ... To read this book is to join the ranks of his admirers. His lasting imprint is clear in the words of his widow, Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, who writes the book's final chapter. It is apparent in the selected eulogy excerpts that follow from, among others, the congressman's two adult daughters, his brother, his pastor, and Presidents Obama and Clinton ... In this narrative, his final gift to the nation, Cummings reminds us that 'we are not powerless.' He insists that 'this is a fight for the soul of our democracy,' and it is a fight that we can win because, in the end, we are, indeed, better than this. It's now up to us to prove him right.
Not just for its political implications, but for the everyday lessons inside it, We’re Better Than This is a book to have now ... It’s hard not to be thrilled as he proceeds to his recollections of what happened while he was chair of the Oversight Committee: riveted as we were by it, Cummings’ account of the drama offers further behind-the-scenes peeks at, and his thoughts on, those proceedings. Wisdom, a charming ownership of his constituents, some well-deserved back-patting, and an awareness of his impending death add further luster.
... the congressman's dedication to civil service, desire to mentor younger generations, and admiration for his colleagues shines through ... Moving insight into a remarkable man, which remains a touching tribute to his accomplishments in the later years of his life. Recommended for political aficionados.