The Life and Times of Ron Brown: A Memoir

Tracey L. Brown, Author, Bill Clinton, Introduction by
Tracey L. Brown, Author, Bill Clinton, Introduction by William Morrow & Company $26 (256p) ISBN 978-0-688-15320-5
Reviewed on: 12/01/1981
Release date: 12/01/1981
At various times perfunctory and highly personal, this memoir by the daughter of President Clinton's first secretary of commerce, who died in a plane crash in Croatia in 1996, combines elements of formal biography with intimate family memories. The author, a deputy D.A. in Los Angeles, begins with a detailed description of the tragic accident that killed her father and 34 others. She then covers his rise from a comfortable childhood in Harlem through his years of good work with the Urban League. Brown turned to politics and managed Senator Edward Kennedy's failed 1979 run for the Democratic presidential nomination. With time out in the 1980s to work as a Washington lobbyist, Brown managed Jesse Jackson's presidential bid at the 1988 convention then went on to head the Democratic National Committee from 1989 to 1992. Clinton is quoted as saying he would not have been elected without Brown, whom he rewarded with a cabinet post. The author's personal touches are often rather teasing, alighting on such everyday matters as her father's inept driving and mania for neatness, while some of the long stretches of his professional life--always described here as personal triumphs--seem a bit labored. The final chapters lose much of the focus trying to explore the cause of the plane crash, detailing the many memorials to Brown and recording the author's personal anguish. The memoir is clearly a labor of love. (Apr.)
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