Cover image for Lying down with the lions : a public life from the streets of Oakland to the halls of power
Lying down with the lions : a public life from the streets of Oakland to the halls of power
Dellums, Ronald V., 1935-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Boston : Beacon Press, [2000]

Physical Description:
220 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 24 cm
General Note:
Includes index.
Personal Subject:
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
E840.8.D45 A3 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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"Compelling, choice reading as well as an important guide to our beloved democracy."* "Here is a man raised in the protective embrace of the African-American community, tested in the volatile cauldron of California politics. Here is a life replete with ambition, intelligence, grit, and luck. And here is a book which will surprise, inform, and delight readers of every political stamp and of all races and religions."-Maya Angelou "Ron's astute leadership and tireless dedication, so aptly and engagingly described in his book, leave a permanent, everlasting impression about all the good that can come from serving in public office."-*Kweisi Mfume, author of No Free Ride, and president/CEO, NAACP "Activists who entertain the notion of running for office would do well to grab a copy of Lying Down with the Lions, a fine new record of the political life."-John Nichols, The Nation "People who mistakenly think that it is impossible to be both principled and effective as a member of Congress know nothing of the career of Ron Dellums. He was in Congress an extremely effective force for social justice in part because his colleagues recognized the depth of his commitment. Dellums and Lee Halterman describe how this worked in this very important book about a very important career."-Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), author of Speaking Frankly

Author Notes

Ronald V. Dellums represented California's 9th Congressional District for twenty-seven years. He is now president of Healthcare International Management Company. He lives in Washington, D.C.

Reviews 4

Booklist Review

This work highlights Dellums' 30-plus years of public service, focusing on his career as a U.S. congressman. The book, cowritten by Dellums and his principal spokesman, reflects an extraordinary journey through the American political landscape, where a progressive pursuit of peace and justice took root in the hostile environs of the U.S. Congress. The authors trace Dellums' initial experience as a social worker from Oakland to the Berkeley City Council where he gave voice to radicals, students, blacks, environmentalists, and peace seekers. From the city councilman position, Dellums forged a coalition that catapulted him into Congress for 28 years, ultimately to chair the House Arms Services Committee. In his journey from a "black radical from Berkeley," as the Nixon administration called him, to a House member well respected by friend and foe alike, Dellums kept his principled commitment to peace and justice, while working efficiently within the system. --Vernon Ford

Publisher's Weekly Review

Dellums's first calling was to be a social worker. He found his second after a client inspired him "to get at the causes, rather than the symptoms, of individual dysfunction." Thus began his three-decade career as a leading progressive politician and social worker for the nation--or "black male bomb-thrower from Berkeley," as one congressman put it. In this overly earnest apologia, Dellums explains his many radical positions and how he stuck to them. He spends the most time on his greatest victories: helping promote the Congressional Black Caucus and pushing for U.S. sanctions against South Africa. He doesn't forget his failures, though, showing instead how they were in some ways successes. For example, the annual CBC alternative budget was ignored legislatively, but it earned "the respect, if not the support, of key members of the House." And if Dellums failed to kill the B-2 bomber program, he at least won "a partial victory--limiting the production of the planes." Such relentless optimism may seem to some like a political defense mechanism, but according to Dellums, it's a necessary trait for the progressive. For "the challenge is not so much to prevail at the moment as it is to remain faithful to the ideas and to the struggle, and to refuse to yield to the powerful temptation of cynicism." Although he frequently teeters on the brink of self-hagiography--the pitfall of all political memoirs--and his recounting (with the help of longtime aide Halterman) of political battles can be dry, Dellums shows that he's met this challenge well. Photos. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Dellums retired in 1998 after spending 27 years as a progressive Democratic member of the House of Representatives, faithfully representing the diverse ethnic, racial, student, and gay populations that largely comprised his district of Berkeley, CA, or "Berzerkeley," as its detractors called it in the early 1970s. This engaging and informative autobiography relates Dellums's lack of success in a school system that marginalized blacks and his failure to be appointed to Marine Office Candidate School because of his race. Despite these incidents, Dellums did not resort to hatred and enjoyed a distinguished career in politics in part because he was able to work with conservatives who respected him for his unswerving dedication to human rights and peace. Dellums's significant accomplishments include becoming the first African American to chair the House Armed Services Committee, serving as an original member of the Congressional Black Caucus and leading the successful legislative fight against the repressive system of apartheid in South Africa. This true American success story is recommended for all public libraries and strongly so for Black History Month collections.ÄKarl 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.

Choice Review

How does a radical political activist elected to Congress work the system without compromising his convictions? That question lies at the heart of Ronald Dellums's autobiography. A street smart ex-marine social worker, Dellums got caught up in the 1960s movements in Oakland and Berkeley and was elected to Congress in 1970 on an avowedly radical program. Dellums, a consummate, albeit still progressive, Congressional player, worked his way up to the chairmanship of the powerful House Armed Services Committee. In the best chapters of this book Dellums describes how he fought Apartheid and later redirected the focus and tempered the priorities of the Armed Services Committee. He downplays his pacifist views and the many losing battles he fought. Unsurprisingly, he devotes most attention to his political accomplishments, accentuating the encomiums directed his way by allies and foes alike. Based on this account, coauthored with a longtime Congressional aide, it would appear that Dellums was more often accommodating than he was obnoxious, more often in the game than on the sidelines. Certainly Dellums's perspective on national politics and the vignettes he offers of conversations and maneuvers in the House of Representatives from 1971-1998 enrich the history of an institution that the onetime street tough gradually came to love. General readers. M. J. Birkner; Gettysburg College

Table of Contents

H. Lee Halterman
Introductionp. 1
Chapter 1 You Can Make It Outp. 9
Chapter 2 Sit Down, Man--We're Going to Win Thisp. 27
Chapter 3 Revolution Inside the Systemp. 50
Chapter 4 Challenging the Nationp. 93
Chapter 5 The Struggle against Apartheidp. 121
Chapter 6 Waging Peacep. 149
Chapter 7 Keeping the Faith, Fighting for Changep. 195
Afterwordp. 202
Acknowledgmentsp. 208
Indexp. 211