Cover image for An American voter : my love affair with politics
An American voter : my love affair with politics
Sullivan, Joan.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York, N.Y. : Bloomsbury, [2002]

Physical Description:
209 pages ; 22 cm
Personal Subject:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
JK526 2000 .S85 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



A warm, affecting, and ultimately hopeful tale of what it means to care about politics in today's world.

When Joan Sullivan was sixteen, her sister got married on their sprawling farm in New Jersey. Bill Bradley, the senator and former NBA player, was among the guests. Suddenly, magically, Joan found herself on the basketball court with him. An athlete herself, awed by his dedication to both sports and politics, she slipped off her shoes, bunched up her bridesmaid dress, and tried not to smile too brightly when he took her as a partner.

Nine years later, Joan is in Des Moines, Iowa, working feverishly for Bill Bradley's presidential campaign. Haunted by the death of her father and feeling disconnected from her life in New York, Joan throws herself into this strange new world, intent on getting a political education. In a whirlwind tour of the U.S., Joan campaigns for Bradley, taking to heart his message that idealism and dreams are not dead in America.

But Joan is not immune to the perils of politics. In one embarrassing moment, she resorts to a shoving match with a Gore supporter in the streets of Brooklyn. But through her experiences, Joan discovers some larger truths: that defeat does not necessarily mean failure; that although Bradley will ultimately lose the campaign, she and others can continue to work for change; and that voting is more than participating in politics; it is a personal and powerful way to participate in life.

Author Notes

Joan Sullivan lives in New York City and currently teaches American History at the Bronx School for Law, Government and Justice, a public high school in the South Bronx, where she also founded and coaches the girls’ varsity basketball team. She spent two years working for the New York City Civilian Complaint Review Board, the city agency that investigates police misconduct. She is a 1995 graduate of Yale College, where she majored in American Studies. This is her first book.

Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

Sullivan's debut is a surprisingly suspenseful memoir of her months as an advance person for the Iowa caucus in the 2000 presidential primary campaign of Bill Bradley. The suspense is not in the outcome of the Gore-Bradley face-off, but in whether Sullivan's political idealism can survive the compromises, inanities and media cynicism in short, the commercialization of the American political process. Sullivan, a 1995 Yale graduate who now teaches at the Bronx School of Law, Government and Justice, joins the Bradley campaign believing he offers a more honest, issue-oriented approach to public policy. But her past indicates no abiding interest in politics, and her commitment to the campaign represents a belated and poignantly drawn personal search for meaning after her father died of pancreatic cancer in 1994. She describes with wit and insight her initiation into political campaigning, the tedium of finding the perfect location for a photo op, the perceived importance of details such as the shape and size of a podium. The youthful political consultants (who routinely change allegiances) are particularly sharply drawn. Sullivan eloquently criticizes the media for reporting storylines rather than candidate positions. Despite the pressure of the campaign, Bradley generally retains his luster, especially in comparison with Gore, who is depicted as primarily a political animal. Readers will like Sullivan and find encouragement in the fact that while her firsthand look at politics makes her flinch, she concludes that participation in the electoral process is worthwhile. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved