Cover image for Gore : a political life
Gore : a political life
Zelnick, Robert, 1940-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Washington, DC : Regnery Pub., [1999]

Physical Description:
xiii, 384 pages ; 24 cm
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Format :


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Material Type
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E840.8.G65 Z45 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
E840.8.G65 Z45 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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Zelnick lost his job as political reporter for ABC News after writing this probing account which fully evaluates Al Gore's evolving political career.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Most libraries will want a solid, objective biography of Gore if, as expected, he seeks and wins the Democratic presidential nomination. Sadly, though former ABC Capitol Hill correspondent Zelnick claims to offer an authoritative life of the veep, he has too many axes to grind to suit many small libraries that can't acquire multiple biographies. (Larger libraries, however, will want to add this critical survey to more admiring titles to come.) In Backfire (1996), Zelnick took on affirmative action, recycling the usual "angry white male" arguments. Here he supplies plenty of valuable research and investigative reporting but often goes overboard in his judgments, qualifying as perhaps the first of many "Gore-haters." Gore has indeed told multiple stories about his past and has changed his mind about a wide variety of issues. But Zelnick never gives his subject the benefit of the doubt; Gore is always moving in the direction of money or votes--except when he is being rigid and moralistic. This is a life of Gore only a Gore-hater could love; expect demand from that crowd. (Reviewed March 15, 1999)0895263262Mary Carroll

Publisher's Weekly Review

Albert Arnold Gore Jr., who once called the American vice-presidency a "political dead end," will not be flattered by this biography from former ABC News correspondent Zelnick (Backfire). The author does little to penetrate Gore's famously wooden exterior and compiles the usual list of anecdotes from Gore's formative years at the knee of his father, a U.S. senator from Tennessee: working on a farm from sunrise to sunset to "build his character," joining Harvard roommate Tommy Lee Jones onstage for an "Old Time Country Panorama," writing an eerily prescient honors thesis on the impact of television on the presidency. But when Zelnick turns to Gore's political career, starting with election to the House in 1976, it becomes apparent that objective biography is not his aim. In successive chapters, he attacks Gore for reversing positions on abortion, for incorporating his sister's death into his speech at the 1996 Democratic National Convention and for capitulating to unions when "reinventing" government. Zelnick pummels Gore for making what Zelnick says were illegal fund-raising calls from the White House and for accepting campaign contributions from Chinese citizens. He even manages to accuse Gore of being both a radical and a hypocrite on core environmental issues. Many of these concerns seem legitimate, raising troubling questions about the man who would be president. But although it is rarely malicious, Zelnick's assault is so relentless that it is difficult to accept all of his charges. At times he can be gracious (Gore's stint as an army reporter in Vietnam, Zelnick states, was "decent and honorable"), but the cumulative weight of his book is overwhelmingly and exhaustively critical. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Zelnick (Backfire: A Reporters Look At Affirmative Action, Regnery, 1996), a conservative former ABC correspondent, presents a trudging portrayal of Vice President Al Gore, whom pundit Michael Kinsley once dubbed an old persons idea of a young person. The son of the late Al Gore Sr., longtime senator from Tennessee, young Al spent his youth preparing for a life in politics, even volunteering for Vietnam after Harvard to help save his fathers reputation with his hawkish constituents. Zelnick acknowledges the younger Gores dependability as a senator and devoted family man but raises some hard and fair questions about his dogmatic, at times unscientific views of global warming; his unseemly fundraising activities in the White House; and his simultaneous attacks on the cigarette-induced lung cancer that killed his sister and promotion of subsidies for down-home tobacco farmers. Other criticisms, such as self-promotion, trading influence for votes, and flip-flopping on issues, are, for better or worse, required political skills. Recommended for public libraries primarily for the controversial issues raised.Karl Helicher, Upper Merion Twp. Lib., King of Prussia, PA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.