Bookshot #125: Shortest Way Home

The 'I'm running for President, so I wrote a book' thing has become so ubiquitous that it practically qualifies as it's own genre now. Off the top of my head I think Senator Klobuchar and Senator Harris both have books out- undoubtedly Joe Biden has one floating around somewhere from years past and I'm pretty sure Bernie and Booker have had books out in the world for awhile now as well. In general, I don't read these books-- though, one of these electoral cycles it'd be interesting to buy all the books and read them and see how that changed my opinions/thoughts on any of these candidates.

Despite my previous aversion to these type of books, I had a free credit from Audible and Pete Buttigieg was a candidate I was looking to learn more about, so I snagged an audio version of his book Shortest Way Home and gradually began working my way through it. My second audiobook ever, it's narrated by the Mayor himself, which lends a certain amount of authenticity to the proceedings, though I'd imagine they'd want to let people narrate their own memoirs whenever they can-- be a little weird if some rando was narrating this.

But, Mayor Pete. The way he approaches this is actually really interesting, because it's almost two memoirs weaved into one. There's his story: his family hails from Malta and Dad is a Notre Dame Professor- he grew up in South Bend, got an award for writing an essay about Bernie Sanders in high school which lead to an internship with Ted Kennedy and eventual acceptance to Harvard. Post Harvard and post 9/11, he enlisted in the Naval Reserves and landed a consulting gig at McKinsey after some volunteer stints/door knocking for various campaigns in the mid-00s and eventually, he deicdes to run for Mayor of South Bend to see what he can do to affect the city's perceived 'death' and turn things around.

Parallel to this, you get an overview of what happened to South Bend: a prosperous industrial Midwest city that was doing pretty well until around 1963 when Studebaker went under and everything just kind of went into a slow decline since then-- when Mayor Pete takes over as Mayor, he sets about building a coalition of people to revitalize the downtown area and repurpose the old Studebaker factory. His service as Mayor is interrupted by a deployment to Afghanistan and his term also overlaps with the election of Mike Pence to the Governorship of Indiana and the whole RIFRA mess- despite being on the opposite end of the political spectrum from Pence and his predecessor Mitch Daniels, Mayor Pete makes it a point to work with both men to get things done for his city- he calls it 'compartmentalization', but really it's just sensible pragmatism-- as Mayor, it's his job to get things done for his city, regardless of disagreements he may have with either Governor and he does that and does it well- well enough to be re-elected to a second term.

His re-election campaign was almost complicated by the fact that he came out as gay-- but it turned out to be not much of a complication at all as most people just didn't care. He finds love a husband and get married and pretty much appears to be heading for a ride off into the sunset when he jumps into the race for DNC chair-- which he loses, but also served as a proving ground (I think) for getting his name out there a bit more on the national level. Mayor Pete gets it: he wants to the Democrats to stop ignoring the industrial Midwest and be a fifty state party that competes not just for the White House and Congress but on state and local levels as well.

In short, this book made me like him more. Not that much more, I'm still #TeamAmy all the way- but he for sure has solified his spot as my number two choice. (And honestly, if it does end up being Warren as the nominee, I could see a Warren/Buttigieg ticket. I could see a Klobuchar/Buttigieg ticket. No idea who he'd pick if he was the top of the ticket though- which could be interesting to see if he can break through into the top three and have a genuine shot at this- which at this point, he still does. Plenty of time to go yet.)

Overall: An intelligent and earnest memoir from a young, intelligent and earnest politician this was a delight to listen to and get to know Mayor Pete a little better. Honestly, we could do a lot worse than making Mayor Pete into President Pete next year. But we'll see. My Grade: **** out of ****

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