cover image Granny D’s American Century

Granny D’s American Century

Doris Haddock and Dennis Michael Burke. UPNE/Univ. of New Hampshire, $27.95 (192p) ISBN 978-1-61168-234-2

Opening with an exhortation to readers to “make fresh trouble, today” celebrated troublemaker Haddock details, in a folksy memoir, her naïve youth in the years around the Great Depression and recaps her political agitation efforts leading up to the 2008 recession. Haddock, who died in 2010 at age 100, was once an aspiring actress and achieved fame and international recognition many decades later as “Granny D” by spending the year 1999 walking across the country publicizing election reform; in 2004 she ran unsuccessfully for Senate in her native New Hampshire . Strikingly nonjudgmental—except toward a promiscuous friend she defined as an “easy lay”—but also a vital life force, Haddock contrasts the 1920s with the early 2000s through anecdotes, as she surrounds herself with colorful artists, reformers, and struggling families in both eras even as she meets with TV’s Matt Lauer and calls Jimmy Carter for a favor. Her amusing exploits in a sputtering van during a political junket highlight her faith in government’s potential to help the misfits, immigrants, and the underserved. Writing with Burke, who coauthored her account of the 1999 cross-country walk, and often omitting chronological benchmarks, the rap-loving Haddock sometimes appears to be the only one with any wisdom in this entertaining historical and political memoir. (Mar.)