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Pearls, Politics, and Power

How Women Can Win and Lead

Pearls, Politics, and Power is a call to action for new political engagement and leadership from the women of America. Informed by conversations with elected women leaders from all levels, former three-term Vermont Governor and Ambassador to Switzerland Madeleine M. Kunin asks: What difference do women make? What is the worst part of politics, and what is the best part? What inspired these women to run, and how did they prepare themselves for public life? How did they raise money, protect their families’ privacy, deal with criticism and attack ads, and work with the good old boys?

Kunin’s core message is that America needs an infusion of new leadership to better address the major problems of our time. To see how women can achieve that goal, she combines her personal experience in politics; the lessons of past women’s movements; the stories of young women today who have new ideas about their role in society; and interviews with a wide range of women in positions of power, looking for clues to their leadership, as well as the effects of gender stereotyping. She interviews Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, analyzes her campaign, and addresses the question: “Is the country ready?” Other interviewees include U.S. Representatives Loretta Sanchez, Linda Sanchez, Deborah Pryce, and Tammy Baldwin, and U.S. Senators Susan Collins, Amy Klobuchar, and Carol Moseley Braun, and Governors Kathleen Sibelius and Janet Napolitano.

The next generation of women will be inspired to lead by seeing women like Nancy Pelosi wielding the gavel, and seeing themselves reflected in the portraits in statehouses, courthouses, corporate and university boardrooms, and the White House. Pearls, Politics, and Power will help ensure that this inspiration is not soured or deflected, but channeled into successful candidacies by America’s leaders of tomorrow. What will it take for women to assume their rightful places in the political corridors of power?

Reviews and Praise

  • "Women who have lived politics tell it best. They are the exemplars who can attract new generations of young women to public leadership. Herself a pioneer in the modern history of women's political leadership, Madeleine Kunin knows of what she speaks. She brings direct experience, knowledge, and wisdom to a subject close to her heart--the challenges and satisfactions for women who take the plunge into political life. It's one matter to tell people about the challenges facing women in politics. It's another to write the story so that people will want to read it. With her vast personal experience as a political leader and her considerable gifts as a writer, Madeleine Kunin offers a new generation both pearls of wisdom and practical lessons in the real-life, nuts and bolts of politics. Her book is jam packed with information and examples to illustrate the lessons she offers. She draws on her own fascinating life throughout the book as well as on the experiences of a great variety of interesting political women of many ages serving in many kinds of positions. There is also history, current facts, and solid advice--something for everyone but especially young women and girls interested in a readable book about what life is like for women in politics and why they, too, should answer the call. The book is personal as well as political and, above all, pedagogical, in the best sense: it aims to educate through a mix of information and inspiration."--Ruth B. Mandel, Director, Eagleton Institute of Politics, Rutgers University

More Reviews and Praise

  • "Here's the book we've been waiting for--an insider's view of the role of women in politics by one of America's most distinguished public servants. Governor, federal executive, ambassador, Madeleine Kunin has seen it all. And her keen eye and deep understanding of the challenge of gender in wielding power has produced a wonderfully insightful book that should be read by every woman--and man--who wants to lead."--Robert B. Reich, former U.S. Secretary of Labor and Professor of Public Policy, University of California at Berkeley

  • "Madeleine Kunin makes an impassioned and informed plea for women, especially younger women, to enter politics. There is no doubt in my mind that our country and the world would be a far better place if the 'feminine values' of compassion and nurturing were to achieve their rightful place in our nation's governance. As she says, it's a wonderful thing to donate $10 to fight breast cancer, but it's a far more powerful thing to shift millions of dollars of government money to finding a cure."--Ben Cohen, co-founder, Ben & Jerry's

  • "Women have always provided leadership in their families, their community, and their country. Pearls, Politics, and Power takes this influence to a different leadership level. A great read for an understanding of the need for continued involvement."--Senator Nancy Kassebaum

  • "Every page is indelibly stamped with one word: impact. Governor Kunin clearly and compellingly captures the deep and lasting impact women have had and can have on American politics."--Ilana Goldman, President, Women's Campaign Forum

  • "Kunin gives us thoughtful advice on how women can lead change. A wonderful, insightful book."--Donna E. Shalala, former U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services

  • "Once again, Madeleine Kunin gives us a thoughtful examination of women's roles in American politics. In an effort to engage more women in the political process, Kunin uses not just her story, but the stories of elected women from both parties and all levels of office. She skillfully weaves these together to illustrate the challenges women face in running for and holding office as well as the tremendous rewards that come from public service. These stories illustrate the concerns women have about running for office in the first place, the realities they face as officeholders and the difference they make by being there. What a useful tool this book will be in the classroom to teach about the experiences of women in politics and to educate the next generation of women for public leadership."--Debbie Walsh, Director, Center for American Women and Politics, Rutgers University

  • "Madeleine Kunin has written a fabulous 'how to' book for women who want to make a difference in their communities, states or the nation. Drawing on her own experience and a rich trove of interviews with women in political positions at all levels, she gives practical advice on how to get started, survive the stresses of public life, and make change happen. This slim, lively book is a must read whether you want to be more effective in your community or aspire to change the world."--Alice Rivlin, former Director, Office of Management and Budget

  • "We women who have devoted our time and resources to taking on political leadership roles must also motivate, inspire, and mentor other women to surge into the ranks of politics. Governor Kunin's book is an excellent resource--and a must read. It lays out the chutzpah for tackling politics. She says, 'The worried mother syndrome is an effective catalyst for social change.' We worried mothers must act."--Swanee Hunt, former Ambassador to Austria and Director of the Women and Public Policy Program at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government

  • "Part memoir, part manual, leavened with poignant interviews, testimonies, practical truths and (best of all) the passion of a wise and temperate activist, Kunin's work manifests two rarities in the modern world: scholarly politicians and readable scholarship. This book should become part of the women's studies curriculum in every college and university in America and is perfectly appropriate for senior level courses in public affairs in high schools throughout the land. Fair, honest, and civil--a magnificent achievement by a remarkable woman." --Frank Bryan, John G. McCullough Professor of Political Science, University of Vermont

  • "In Pearls, Politics, and Power, Governor Kunin lays out the what, why, and wisdom of women's political involvement not only in the US but throughout the world. It is especially relevant today in light of Senator Clinton's presidential campaign and the forces impacting it because she is a woman. Interesting and informative, it is a must read for every woman who cares about having government make a difference for her children and grandchildren and is looking for a way to make that happen."--Geraldine A. Ferraro, former Member of Congress and 1984 Democratic Nominee for Vice President

  • "Madeleine Kunin's story is instructive and inspiring--a must read for those who dare to seek elective office. It is a powerful book, based on real experience."--Vernon E. Jordan, Jr., Senior Managing Director, Lazard Freres

  • "This book provides a rare insight of what it is like to run for office and win. Kunin listens to the voices of women who have been there--at the local, state, and national levels. She is inspirational, informative, and timely, calling for women to jump into the fray and make a difference for our country."--Ellen Malcolm, President, EMILY's List

  • "A natural storyteller, Kunin combines her personal journey in politics with the stories of dozens of female politicians. Writing with wisdom, intelligence and warmth, she provides a guide for women at all levels who might seek to enter public life while at the same time shedding light on the challenges facing Hillary Clinton as she strives to become the first female president. The timing of this excellent book could not be better."
    --Doris Kearns Goodwin, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian and biographer

  • "Madeline Kunin had to imagine herself as a woman leader when those two words rarely came together. Now she teaches us from her experience, and helps us imagine the next leap into the future."--Gloria Steinem

About The Author

About Madeleine Kunin

Madeleine M. Kunin was the first woman governor of Vermont, and served as the Deputy Secretary of education and Ambassador to Switzerland under President Bill Clinton. She is the author of Living a Political Life (1995) Pearls, Politics, and Power (2008)and The New Feminist Agenda: Defining the Next Revolution for Women, Work, and Family (2012). She is currently a Marsh Scholar Professor-at-Large at the University of Vermont where she lectures on history and women's studies. She also serves as president of the board of the Institute for Sustainable Communities (ISC), a nongovernmental organization that she founded in 1991. She lives in Burlington, Vermont.

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Books By Madeleine Kunin

Pages:256 pages
Size: 6 x 9 inch
Publisher:Chelsea Green Publishing
Pub. Date: April 15, 2008
Paperback: 9781933392929

Available In/Retail Price

Paperback, 256 pages, $14.95

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