cover image While America Sleeps: A Wake-up Call for the Post-9/11 Era

While America Sleeps: A Wake-up Call for the Post-9/11 Era

Russ Feingold. Crown, $26 (320p) ISBN 978-0-307-95252-3

In this incisive political memoir, former Wisconsin senator Feingold analyzes political and military events since September 11, 2001, and provides fascinating glimpses into a senator’s daily life and decision-making process, from cloakroom wheeling and dealing and congressional delegations to Iraq, Asia, and Africa to town hall meetings and confrontations with constituents throughout Wisconsin. Citing Winston Churchill’s While England Slept, Feingold writes: “Negligent and willful oversimplification of complicated new problems, as well as a cynical exploitation of the fears generated by 9/11, have undermined our ability effectively to adjust to a new paradigm for America’s place in the world.” Feingold depicts the increasing perceptual rift between inside-the-beltway politicians and Wisconsinites, exacerbated by a Washington bunker mentality as the anthrax attacks forced senators and their staffs out of their offices and into crowded basements; the Bush administration’s machinations to invade Iraq; and Tea Partiers disrupting his Wisconsin town hall meetings to the point where other constituents stopped showing up. His shockingly reasonable and carefully considered responses, as well as his respect for, and collaboration with, such Republican colleagues as John McCain and John Ashcroft, will make progressives, Wisconsinites, and other frustrated Americans nostalgic for the days of a more thoughtful, productive Congress. Agent: Robert Barnett, Williams & Connolly. (Feb.)