A Review of Scott Brown’s Against All Odds

[Boston Globe]

Here’s one way to chart the improbable, accelerated rise of Scott Brown: in his new memoir, Against All Odds, Brown remembers laying in bed, thinking he could win Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat if his campaign managed to raise $1,000,000. Well, there’s a good chance Brown’s book deal topped that number by itself. I’ve got a review of Against All Odds in today’s Boston Globe, and I call it “an incredible life story, told in the most safe and surface-level terms possible.” The book doesn’t talk much about Brown’s politics, but he’s shown terrific political savvy in rolling it out. Did you know Senator Rand Paul also had a book come out this week? Neither did anyone else.

As I mentioned in my review, some of the weirdest moments in Brown’s book come when he adopts a bizarrely literary tone. Here’s my favorite example: “The air was hot, that sticky, humid July heat, where the sky turns thick and white and presses back down upon you until each breath seems liquid, like sucking pool water into your lungs.” I’m not sure whether this stems from Brown’s desire to dress up what is essentially a personal autobiography, or from his (and other politicians’) anxiety about writing a memoir in a post-Obama age. Another weird quality of Against All Odds is Brown’s constant hedging; every factual statement gets a “probably” or “I remember.” In my favorite example of this, Brown’s reasons seem pretty clear: “Behind Al Di Santo’s house,” Brown writes of another one of his stepfathers, “was a sheer rock wall that I scrambled up and down, rocks that were probably the legacy of millions of years of glaciers, advancing and retreating across the Massachusetts landscape.”

About Craig Fehrman

Craig Fehrman is a Ph.D. student in Yale’s English department and a freelance writer. He's working on a book about presidents and their books [more] . . .
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