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An unlikely political star tells the inspiring story of the two decade journey that taught her how Washington really works—and really doesn't—in A Fighting ChanceAs a child in small town Oklahoma Elizabeth Warren yearned to go to college and then become an elementary school teacher—an ambitious goal given her family's modest means Early marriage and motherhood seemed to put even that dream out of reach but fifteen years later she was a distinguished law professor with a deep understanding of why people go bankrupt Then came the phone call that changed her life could she come to Washington DC to help advise Congress on rewriting the bankruptcy laws?Thus began an impolite education into the bare knuckled often dysfunctional ways of Washington She fought for better bankruptcy laws for ten years and lost She tried to hold the federal government accountable during the financial crisis but became a target of the big banks She came up with the idea for a new agency designed to protect consumers from predatory bankers and was denied the opportunity to run it Finally at age 62 she decided to run for elective office and won the most competitive—and watched—Senate race in the country In this passionate funny rabble rousing book Warren shows why she has chosen to fight tooth and nail for the middle class—and why she has become a hero to all those who believe that America's government can and must do better for working families

10 thoughts on “A Fighting Chance

  1. says:

    I am an extremely skeptical realist I went into this biography with a grain of salt and realized that it was already seasoned perfectly Senator Warren is the ideal choice for leadership in American government I believe that having a leader who reluctantly dove into the murky waters of politics and perhaps a bit naively but was tough and smart enough to stay afloat and then build a boat and start pulling others on board is the exact person I would want to represent me I would vote for Warren any day You should as well or at least read the book and make your own informed opinion Blindly following partisan lines is exactly what a sheep would do Warren is the wolf who may have dressed as a sheep once on Halloween but leaves the costumes at home when shes at work Thank you for your work and keep it up

  2. says:

    Batman Spiderman and Superman all rolled in to oneAn indefatigable advocate for the ordinary American citizen Senator Elizabeth Warren is the poster child for the incorruptible government official Now as the Senior Senator from Massachusetts and as the Chair of the Senate Banking Committee Warren is in the right place to effect positive change for the Nation This is very good newsThe bad news is that Senator Warren is one of only a handful of legislators in the US Congress willing to advocate on behalf of ordinary American citizens and she's now in her sixties The vast majority of our legislators have largely sold themselves out to financial industrial and political firms and institutions in return for campaign finance contributions This is a catastrophic situation for America we have been reduced to a plutocracy ruled by oligarchsAs Senator Warren points out in her book challenging the banking industry and the lobbyists that represent them is a very difficult and unending task particularly since much of the regulatory framework that kept them in check has been dismantled beginning in the early 1980's during the Reagan Administration Warren has fought with them for years to try to protect American consumers but every time she wins a battle the industry regroups and comes back for another fight They have no shortage of financial resources and determination to drive the legislative process to pass laws and institute a regulatory framework that works in their interest they are like that mythical beast of Anglo Saxon lore that grows back two heads every time you slay itEvery intelligent objective and fair minded citizen should read Professor Warren's book She is one of our Nation's foremost experts on the law as it relates to bankruptcy business economics and finance and her motivation is justice and euity You will also understand why Thomas Jefferson had warned the Nation about bankers in 1812 when he said Beware of bankers for they are dangerous than a standing army

  3. says:

    I started listening to this book at nine o'clock this morning I've already cried three times and wonder how on earth I haven't found the time to go to law school Right now I'm going to empty the contents of my wallet into an envelope and mail it to Senator Warren I'm sure that whatever she is doing today it's the right thing

  4. says:

    A Fighting Chance is the fourth book by Elizabeth Warren her first since the former Harvard law professor became a regular guest on The Daily Show a darling of progressives a first term US senator D MA and a possible candidate for president as of May 2015 she's stated repeatedly that she is not interested in running I apologize to those who dream of Goodreads remaining a safe zone from the contentious subjects of politics religion or sex unless being discussed in relation to Elizabeth Bennett and Mr Darcy in Pride and Prejudice But I've been a great admirer of Warren's since she created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau CFPB and used her tenure in the Senate to advocate for the middle class against the major banksWarren is not the first politician to utilize a book deal to tell their story promote their ideas in long form and get their message out possibly in a run up for higher office But having already authored three books on bankruptcy two with her daughter Amelia Warren Tyagi Warren has admitted she enjoys writing and other than help from research assistants wrote this book herself A Fighting Chance is a memoir balancing Warren's personal life with her increasingly visible work in Washington beginning in 1995 with a bipartisan commission launched by President Clinton to review the nation's bankruptcy laws Any of you ready for a nap by what I've described will likely be interested in Mr Darcy's affairs than this book Those crushed that Warren is not running for president should be ecstatic by this book Fascinating facts about Elizabeth Warren or things I didn't learn on C SPAN or The Daily ShowShe was born and raised in Oklahoma with three older brothers Her father dreamed of aviation but was too old to serve as a fighter pilot in World War II Hoping for a job as a commercial pilot after the war he missed out there too Warren's mother believed the airlines wanted younger men in the cockpit He sold carpeting at department stores until a heart attack greatly reduced his hours Warren's mother entered the work force at age 50 answering phones at Sears The year was 1962 and Warren was 13Despite resistance from her mother Warren dreamed of going to college She'd excelled at debate club and found two schools offering scholarships Northwestern and George Washington She sent off for the applications without telling her family and after her father told her mother to let their daughter try Warren was accepted to both schools She chose George Washington on a full scholarship and federal loan Two years into college a boy who Warren had met in high school on the advanced debate team named Jim Warren proposed marriage to her He'd graduated college landed a good job with IBM and after eight weeks of debate she accepted dropping out of school and moving to Houston Finishing her undergrad at the University of Houston Warren found work as a speech therapist for special needs children at a local public school She gave birth to a daughter Amelia in 1970 Now a housewife in suburban New Jersey Warren got the itch for grad school After considering speech pathology she chose law thinking Amelia would be proud to have a mom who was a lawyer Telling my mother about my plans to go to law school was worse than telling her about college She was sure something was wrong with me I should stay home I should have children I should count on Jim to support me She cautioned me against becoming one of those crazy women's libbers and warned me they weren't happy and never could be I loved my mother I wanted her to smile to believe I was doing the right thing But that wasn't going to happen So I ducked my head and kept on goingIn three years Warren graduated from Rutgers Law School Pregnant with her second child a son named Alexander Warren was unable to find a job She made a brief run at setting up her own law practice at home when in early 1977 a Rutgers professor asked her if she could fill in teaching a class on legal writing She started the next night The Warrens returned to Houston in a year and she was able to land a job at UH Law School Warren recalls there being only one other full time female faculty member on the staff She headed for the money courses contract law then business and finance figuring if she could master the technical areas first nobody would uestion whether she belonged there Warren's marriage unraveled and her father mother and aunt all moved to Houston to help her with the kids while Warren earned a living During a summer course for law professors she met Bruce Mann a PhD in history whose specialty was law during the American Revolution The two soon married While Warren was teaching at the University of Texas at Austin Law School in the early 1980s a new bankruptcy law went into effect The law was so big nobody had written the textbook yet So Warren and two fellow professors began collecting data Assuming most debtors were deadbeats who blamed others for their own bad decisions what Warren saw at a bankruptcy court in San Antonio and in the personal testimonies she read changed her outlook When writing about their lives people blamed themselves for taking out a mortgage they didn't understand They blamed themselves for their failure to realize their jobs weren't secure They blamed themselves for their misplaced trust in no good husbands and cheating wives It was blindingly obvious to me that most people saw bankruptcy as a profound personal failure a sign that they were losers through and throughBelieving education would make a difference Warren started making speeches Her family moved to Philadelphia where Warren taught at Penn State By the early 1990s she began to see a pattern Banks were targeting families already in distress selling them products with high fees and astronomical interest rates then lobbying to reform the bankruptcy laws so if their customers were pushed into a corner relief would be much difficult Feeling she had no way to fight this Warren's husband Bruce urged her to accept a job offer Harvard Law School was calling The year was 1994 and Warren was 45Settling in Massachusetts Warren's life changed She received a call from Mike Synar a high school debating peer who was now a congressman for Oklahoma President Clinton had placed him in charge of a nine member bipartisan commission to review the nation's bankruptcy laws Synar wanted Warren on the commission Public hearings were held to gather information and Warren noticed that while bank lobbyists were all over the place very few families in bankruptcy were They were barely part of the debate By a 5 4 vote the commission voted to keep the bankruptcy law intact with only a few modifications When the banking industry pushed back Warren was drawn deeper into a political fight to preserve the law She met with Ted Kennedy D MA and cajoled him into leading the charge in the Senate against a banking industry bill that sought to toughen the bankruptcy laws Narrow victories and crushing defeats ensued until November 2008 when Warren received a call from the Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to come to Washington and provide some oversight of the Treasury Department as they prepared to bail the major banks out of the financial crisis Warren's role was to make the process transparent and let those at home know what was going on The financial crisis was such a major event that talk shows began searching for guests who could distill complicated data into simple ideas and uickly Warren began making the rounds on television She was invited to appear on The Daily Show but knowing how guests could be hammered by Jon Stewart she threw up in the dressing room Her interview was a disaster but when Warren got up to leave at commercial break Stewart stopped her You wanted to deliver an important message here and you didn't get to it When the break was over and Warren was still at the desk she unloaded This crisis didn't have to happen America had a boom and bust cycle from the 1790s to the 1930s with a financial panic every ten to fifteen years But we figured out how to fix it Coming out of the Great Depression the country put tough rules in place that gave us fifty years without a financial crisis But in the 1980s we started pulling the threads out of the regulatory fabric and we found ourselves back in the boom and bust cycle When this crisis is over there will be a once in a generation chance to rewrite the rules What we put in place will determine whether our country continues down the path of a boom and bust economy or whether we reestablish an economy with stability that gives ordinary folks a chance at prosperityNeil deGrasse Tyson has said that when he was a boy obsessed with astrophysics he was curious about Congressmen and what careers they had before going to Washington His research came back Law Law Business Law Law Law and he wondered where in government all the teachers or engineers were Warren's story would make her seem like another pugilist and indeed her love for robust debate has been a major part of her life but she struck me as a teacher first and foremost Each time Washington called she had to leave a classroom and her students behind That is the essence of her character and what makes her uniue Warren's writing style is passionate and direct At 287 pages not including acknowledgments and the index I finished the book in two afternoons It doesn't go into detail about the financial crisis or her election campaign against Scott Brown in 2012 but the anecdotes that are here are terrific Warren's realization that Brown was the candidate voters most wanted to have a beer with didn't phase her and in the end didn't matter The firemen union endorsed her because as one union leader said Fuck it we gotta raise our families And you are the best shot we've gotWarren divides her memoir neatly between her family and her career and shows how one came to affect the other and vice versa Almost any politician can make claims that they started from a humble background but Warren's path from a time fifty years ago when girls were discouraged from attending college to bankruptcy law to education and all the way to personal meetings in the Oval Office with Barack Obama and what she learned are impossible not to be inspired byWarren also watched Star Trek The Next Generation with her son when she was still a law professor and for this reason alone the book gets five stars

  5. says:

    that the daughter of an oklahoma telephone operator and a maintenance man would go on to become the first female senator of the commonwealth of massachusetts is in and of itself a compelling story a fighting chance however beyond the inspiring tale of elizabeth warren's journey to the us senate chamber is also the narrative of a financial and political system rigged to favor the already wealthy and powerful at the expense of poor and middle class familiessenator warren's memoir combines the personal and the political in a candid touching and at times playful account of her life beginning with her working class upbringing in the midwest warren recalls the long often arduous road to elected office which she sought ever reluctantly while chronicling her time as a bankruptcy expert university law professor chair of the congressional oversight panel COP for the troubled assest relief program TARP progenitor of the consumer financial protection bureau and special assistant to the president warren also shares the intimate joys and tribulations of family life that occurred concurrent to her professional ascendancy throughout a fighting chance it becomes evident that for warren the personal is the political and conversely so as wellwarren's commitment to advocating and fighting for american families and children has been evident throughout her career as one of the nation's foremost bankruptcy experts warren's work uickly drew the attention of leaders in washington and not too soon thereafter the ire of bankers freuently in her memoir warren offers stupefying statistics that lay bear the implications of bankruptcy on both families and the nation as a wholeby 2001 before the 2008 financial meltdown children would live through their parents' bankruptcy than their parents' divorce women would file for bankruptcy than would graduate from college people would file for bankruptcy than would be diagnosed with cancer some fifteen million families filed for bankruptcy in a single decadewarren unabashedly calls out banking deregulation predatory lending the unchecked access and pernicious effects of banking lobbyists and a misunderstanding and demonization of the risk factors for bankruptcy as contributors to the financial crisis her adjudication of a rigged politico economic system is corroborated by evidence both empirical and anecdotal after a uarter century spent researching and studying it while a fighting chance concludes with warren's well publicized senatorial campaign against scott brown and its landmark people's pledge she makes clear that her election is but the continuation of a fight she had begun decades ago and aims to continue from her position of greater influence some say the rich and powerful now control washington and always will i say this battle isn't over yet true the playing field isn't level and the system is rigged but we're putting up a heck of a fight and we intend to keep on fightingthis victory wasn't mine that's not some kind of fake modesty talk no that statement is deep down truth this victory belonged to all the families who have been chipped away at sueezed and hammered this time they fought together and won and now they were sending me to washington to fight for them and for every hardworking family who just wants a fighting chance to live the american dream elizabeth warren is perhaps a rarity amongst elected officials as she's never aspired to nor made a career of being a politician her devotion to creating a level playing field for all americans is borne of her own family's experiences a career researching bankruptcy and teaching law and a moral sense of responsibility while so many politicians are motivated by corporate donations lobbyist influences and re election hopes senator warren is galvanized by recreating the opportunities that were once widely available to all americans regardless of political persuasion or ideological disposition if this nation had congresspeople and senators of similar conviction and character we'd increasingly see discourse unencumbered by partisan rhetoric as well as legislation that truly accomplishes the will of the people rather than corporate interests it's easy to see why senator warren's populist appeal speaks to and inspires so many and frightens so many others and her memoir makes clear that her principles apply eually to family and nation warren's tenacity passion and intelligence are obvious assets but her humanity and humility seem so distinguishing when compared to her 534 peers a fighting chance is a fine political memoir and an accomplished personal one as well but most remarkable are the two traits that seem to define the senior senator's approach to everything whether government or grandchildren integrity and fidelity euality opportunity the pursuit of happiness an america that builds something better for the next kid and the kid after that and the kid after thatno one is asking for a handout all we want is a country where everyone pays a fair share a country where we build opportunities for all of us; a country where everyone plays by the same rules and everyone is held accountable and we have begun to fight for it

  6. says:

    5 stars “When you have no real power go public really public The public is where the real power is” As we approach 2020 I’ve been doing my best to study up on the Democratic nominees because no I will not be voting for Trump I decided to listen to the audiobook version of this book and I am really glad I decided to do that I’ve never been one for economics math anything under that umbrella And yet I found this book to be completely fascinatingIn this book Warren gives a past history of her work as a lawyer and how teaching bankruptcy led her to work to write government reform to help middle class families “Today the game is rigged—rigged to work for those who have money and power Big corporations hire armies of lobbyists to get billion dollar loopholes into the tax system and persuade their friends in Congress to support laws that keep the playing field tilted in their favor Meanwhile hardworking families are told that they’ll just have to live with smaller dreams for their children” My favorite part of this book is how Warren details what happened to middle class families and explained what the government and big banks did that led to the financial crisis of 2007 2008 I’ve seen movies on it had it explained to me by teachers but never really got what really happened until I listened to this To be fair it’s not something I actively sought out to learn about either but it was nice to have it detailed in a meaningful and transparent wayI liked Warren before I read this book but I love her now She looks at pain and suffering and then makes an active effort to do something about it No matter how hard it is she remembers those stories told to her and she takes action “There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own Nobody You built a factory out there? Good for you But I want to be clear You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate You were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for You didn't have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory and hire someone to protect against this because of the work the rest of us didNow look you built a factory and it turned into something terrific or a great idea? God bless Keep a big hunk of it But part of the underlying social contract is you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along” Just want to uickly say if you come here to troll me I will be deleting and blocking as is my right Follow me on ♥ Facebook ♥ Blog ♥ Instagram ♥ Twitter ♥

  7. says:

    Full disclosure I’m an Elizabeth Warren fan girl That’s why I went against my own guideline of not reading political memoirs to pick up A Fighting ChanceSo um let me just say I was super disappointed when I started A Fighting Chance It was flat Uninspiring Senator Warren painted this bizarre picture of a girl who just happened to fall into teaching at Harvard and getting a senate seat Look Senator Warren I think you’re great Many people I know who disagree with you politically tend to think you’re a good voice to have in the Senate But this whole “golly gee I’m just some innocent girl who stumbled into all of this?” No You had ambition I’m not saying it’s Hillary Clinton sized ambition let’s face it even Hillary Clinton has trouble keeping up with her ambition but a girl from small town Oklahoma doesn’t get to where she is with nothing than luck and checking a box labeled “Native American” Own your ambition Senator Warren You want to help inspire the next generation of girls? Don’t pass off this fantasy that all it takes to get ahead is a smile a little bit of hard work and luck Sure you need all those things and frankly the world needs ambitious people who are also nice but encourage these girls to be bold to dream big and work big and take control of their lives And start doing that by telling your own story in a big ambitious wayLuckily after the rough start A Fighting Chance becomes a pretty good argument for Elizabeth Warren’s brand of populism which should be way less controversial than it is Even with her “aw shucks” routine Senator Warren is a role model for not just little girls but women men Americans you name it Her anger and her positions are rooted in fact and experience and if this is all just some big sideshow to allow her to climb to center stage one criticism freuently leveled against her the woman makes Daniel Day Lewis look like an amateur actor from a Christopher Guest film She makes some incredibly persuasive arguments and I finished thinking that the American middle class would be better off with a legislative branch full of bright passionate Elizabeth Warrens I’m glad I broke my own rule to read A Fighting Chance Recommended

  8. says:

    I haven't liked a politician this much since Bobby Kennedy was assassinated I was only eleven but somehow I knew he was on my side I also know that Elizabeth Warren is on my side Now I am old enough to understand the details Senator Warren's new book clearly explains why and how she is on the side of 99% of the American People and what she is trying to do to help

  9. says:

    DNF around 50%I don't think this is a horrible book but I was in way over my head I don't know anything about the economy crashes of the early 2000s and I don't have a mortgage or even a credit card so all of this I think is for an audience that isn't me I love Elizabeth Warren but I think I'll be waiting for a different book of hers that appeals to me in another way because this one was a snooze

  10. says:

    The system is rigged That's part of Warren's message intertwined with personal history and her journey from mother to law professor to author to policy wonk to Senator Such a compelling and easy flowing read I roared through it in a single day gathering the energy and emotion The second time I will spend time cross referencing the consumer and big bank issues The best book I've read in 2014