Grounded A senator's lessons on winning back rural America

Jon Tester, 1956-

Book - 2020

"An inspiring and eye-opening memoir showing how Democrats can reconnect with rural and red state voters from Montana's three-term Democratic senator"--

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2nd Floor BIOGRAPHY/Tester, Jon Due Jun 26, 2024
New York, NY : Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers [2020]
Main Author
Jon Tester, 1956- (author)
Other Authors
Aaron Murphy, 1979- (author)
First edition
Physical Description
406 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations (chiefly color) ; 24 cm
Includes bibliographical references (pages [359]-390) and index.
  • Introduction
  • Chapter 1. Grit, Glue, and a Meat Grinder
  • Chapter 2. Pickin' Rock
  • Chapter 3. 24 Notes
  • Chapter 4. Falling Down, Marrying Up, Taking Over
  • Chapter 5. A Slow-Burning Fuse
  • Chapter 6. Preservers of the Past
  • Chapter 7. A Peterbilt and a Prius
  • Chapter 8. My One-Eared Dog
  • Chapter 9. More Zeroes
  • Chapter 10. A Farmers Guide to the US Senate
  • Chapter 11. When We Need the Government... and When We Don't
  • Chapter 12. Sleeping over a Volcano
  • Chapter 13. The Maverick
  • Chapter 14. "Khaihawana Punk" and Other Game Changers
  • Chapter 15. Holes in Soles
  • Chapter 16. Whistleblowers Within
  • Chapter 17. How to Pronounce "Montana"
  • Epilogue: Gone the Sun
  • Acknowledgments
  • Notes
  • Index
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Montana senator Tester's candid and appealing debut interweaves autobiography and insights into the issues and values that resonate with rural voters. In addition to serving in Congress as a Democrat, Tester manages the family farm started by his grandfather in 1912. He vividly describes losing three fingers in a childhood accident at the farm's butcher shop, and recalls attending college on a music scholarship; marrying his wife a few months after they started "going steady"; and taking over the farm at age 21 in 1978. After serving on the local school board and in the state senate, Tester won election to the U.S. Senate in 2006. He highlights his advocacy for veterans and writes poignantly about how his relationship with his son, who is gay, helped to change his views on LGBTQ rights. Tester was reelected in 2018--despite being in the middle of a spat with the White House over Trump's nominee for secretary of veterans affairs--and suggests that his fellow Democrats need to relearn "how to speak to the folks who shower at the end of the day." Tester relates his unique personal story with plainspoken charm, and offers helpful advice for red-state Democrats. This political memoir stands apart from the pack. Agent: Julie Stevenson, Massie & McQuilkin Literary Agents. (Sept.)

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Review by Library Journal Review

A three-term Democratic senator from Montana, Tester shows by example how his party can reclaim the allegiance of rural voters and working-class people; after all, he handily won his last election while pitted against a heavily funded candidate who had Trump's direct support. Seen as a unifier, Tester argues for accountability and proves to have bedrock values; he's the only senator with a full-time job outside the Senate, managing his 1,800-acre farm, in his family for more than a century. With a 150,000-copy first printing.

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Review by Kirkus Book Review

The Montana senator recounts the rough and tumble of the political life. Tester, a farmer from the high plains of north-central Montana, is known to most casual observers as the senator with the flattop haircut. He is more than that. As he writes, with undisguised pride, he is "one of the few citizens of this nation who has successfully held Donald Trump accountable without suffering politically for it." He did so, at first, by opposing the nomination of Trump's personal doctor to be the head of the Veterans Administration in committee, suspecting that someone nicknamed "Candyman" for his easy dispensation of prescription drugs might not be the best choice. Trump swore vengeance at the polls, but Montana voters, despite having gone for Trump over Hillary Clinton, still returned Tester, a Democrat, to the Senate in the last election. Tester writes of his engagement with politics, which began at the local level as a member of his small town's school board and expanded to incorporate national issues in a number of areas, particularly agriculture. The author is mostly affable and forgiving, though he harbors a touch of scorn for a few opponents--to say nothing of Trump himself and Don Jr., whom he usually refers to as "his greasy-haired kid." Tester has a good sense of humor, laughing at a hapless political foe who ran an ad with a doctored photograph of Tester shaking hands with Barack Obama, showing the senator to have a full suite of fingers when, in fact, he's missing three of them as the result of a farm accident. Even so, he writes, he's since sat next to that opponent on plane rides. "We get along," he avers, "as most Montanans do when they check politics at the door." Politics, for all that, are at the heart of this book, manifested in such ways as Tester's disdain for dark money, the sitting president, Ryan Zinke, and assorted other bugaboos. Politics junkies, especially those following Western issues, will enjoy Tester's fluent storytelling. Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.