Nine and Counting: The Women of the Senate

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9780060957063: Nine and Counting: The Women of the Senate

The Women of the United States Senate have forever changed the political landscape.  Their backgrounds, personal styles, and political ideals may be as diverse as the nation they serve.  Yet they share a commonality that runs deeper than politics or geography -- they desire to give a voice to all their constituents while serving as role models for women young and old.

Once every month, these distinguished women for an informal dinner to share their knowledge, their hearts, and a good meal.  Leaving behind partisanship and rhetoric, they discuss and debate the issues, both political and personal, affecting their lives. And following the 2000 election of four women to the Senate, the table is now set for thirteen.  Weaving together their individual stories of triumph, adversity, adaptability, and leadership, Nine and Counting gives voice to these charismatic women as never before, offering a rare, insider's glimpse into Washington and sending the powerful message that membership in the "world's most exclusive club" is open to every woman in America.

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Review:

It's hard to imagine nine United States senators whose politics span the spectrum sitting down to dinner together on a regular basis--unless they're the nine women who currently call the Senate home. Barbara Mikulski, Kay Bailey Hutchison, Dianne Feinstein, Barbara Boxer, Patty Murray, Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins, Mary Landrieu, and Blanche L. Lincoln share something deeper than their political proclivities: gender has been the strongest characteristic of their personal and professional lives, and each one has overcome enormous obstacles to reach the old boys' club that is the Senate. As evidence of their remarkable camaraderie, they've now collaborated to share their stories in the hopes of encouraging other women to follow suit. The women write with candor about dealing with sexual stereotypes, facing tragedies, and proving themselves in a world that presents them with an ever-shifting teeterboard of proper feminine behavior.

Their stories range from surprising to shocking to illuminating. Included are Dianne Feinstein's account of the assassination of San Francisco mayor George Moscone and her unexpected rise to power, and the string of deaths that shaped Olympia Snowe into the independent person she is. The senators also share how they have balanced family with work, and in the process brought issues to the Senate floor not previously considered, such as child care, domestic violence, and homemaker retirement accounts (as well as the refreshing sight of small children). What is most impressive is their collaborative spirit, drawn from the traditional female training ground of local grass-roots endeavors and an emphasis on relationship and negotiation. When 64-year-old Barbara Boxer was born, becoming a senator was practically an unthinkable idea. Now, as the senior female senator, she welcomes each new woman who joins the ranks, whether Democrat or Republican, and teaches her the ropes. As partisan squabbles in Congress stymie any real progress, this book makes a strong case for the need for more women in positions of power and demonstrates that getting there is no longer a fantasy. --Lesley Reed

About the Author:

Barbara Mikulski, Democrat, California: Her commitment to public service has been tested by time and tragedy, making her one of the Senate's most trusted leaders.

Dianne Feinstein, Democrat, California: Her commitment to public service has been tested by time and tragedy, making her one of the Senate's most trusted leaders.

Catherine Whitney has written or collaborated on more than twenty-five books, including Framing a Life: A Family Memoir with Geraldine Ferraro and Guilty: The Collapse of Criminal Justice with the late Judge Harold J. Rothwax.

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