Giant of the Senate, by Al Franken
There are a couple of things that I think make this book stand out:
1. Al Franken is still funny. And as long as you can laugh along with him, you’ll find that there are more than a few moments when he also lets you laugh at him. That’s important, because it lets Franken tell you about some of his mistakes he made along the way on his long journey to becoming senator of Minnesota.
2. His behind-the-scenes stories are fascinating. He starts with a few chapters on writing comedy–starting with a heartbreaking story about a best friend, moving through his first senate campaign, and then going through his time as a senator. It not only offers an intimate glimpse behind the scenes, it also lets the reader see HOW comedy evolved, HOW campaigns are crafted, and WHY legislation functions the way it does.
3. It’s incredibly inspiring to read all of the wins Franken has racked up, even in the darkest times. It’s a constant reminder to how much work our elected representatives do and how much they can accomplish when they work together. It’s also a nice antidote to the lazy, nihilistic beliefs that all lawmakers are corrupt and evil.
That said, I think of course there are a couple spots where Franken, maybe because he’s still senator, fluffs the narrative a bit. Maybe he still feels the need to be restrained, or maybe all those stump speeches swirl inside his brain 24/7. Those spots are forgivable because they make up such a small portion of the text, and Franken does us all a favor by leaving us with a breathless, beautiful final chapter that inspires hope and reminds us what makes this country so great.