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Plenty Ladylike: A Memoir

3.73  ·  Rating details ·  322 ratings  ·  51 reviews
The female senator from Missouri shares her inspiring story of embracing her ambition, surviving sexist slings, making a family, losing a husband, outsmarting her enemies—and finding joy along the way.

Claire McCaskill grew up in a political family, but not at a time that welcomed women with big plans. She earned a law degree and paid her way through school by working as a
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published August 11th 2015 by Simon Schuster (first published July 14th 2015)
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3.73  · 
Rating details
 ·  322 ratings  ·  51 reviews

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Aug 22, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2015, non-fiction
It pains me to give this book just three stars since I am Senator McCaskill's #1 fan, but oooof, parts of it are rough.

The good: learning about her childhood, the formative years of her education and her early career, her family, her ex-husband's unsolved murder - I knew a lot of this from my #1 fandom, but she tells the stories in compelling interesting ways that I think illustrate her strength and bravery rather than inspire people to feel sorry for her. I also loved her descriptions of her ea
Aug 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2015, memoir, non-fiction
I chose this book because Claire McCaskill is my senator and I was interested in learning more about her personal life and political career. At just under three hundred pages, she just hits the highlights which was perfect for me. It made it a quick read and kept it entertaining. Most of it is about her struggle to be accepted in the good old boy network that’s so prevalent in politics at both the local and national levels.

I loved that Claire was honest about her almost House of Cards level of s
Mary Ann
I am crazy about Claire McCaskill, and she became my #1 favorite senator. I loved watching her in her committee and subcommittee hearings on C-SPAN. The best chapter in the book, in my opinion, is "Boondoggles" and is about her investigative work on those committees. There are some good stories in the book, but overall, as memoirs go, it's just okay.
Aug 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
This was delightful. A really nice read for a Sunday morning, it's an inspiring but also pragmatic look at one woman's life in politics. It was edifying to see her evolution over time, and the parallel evolution of women in the public sphere. In particular, the transition from women having to be as hard hitting as men, to women having, or getting?, to own being women and the strengths that brought to the political trail.

There are a lot of lessons and takeaways in Claire McCaskill's story, and n
Aug 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book is exceptional. I checked out the audiobook when IL House Representative Cheri Bustos posted she was reading it for National Book Week.

I had not heard of the book, but have an interest in women's representation in government and was particularly interested in this Senator in my neighboring State.

The book was an amazing account of women in politics: how women run for office and how that has changed over the decades...what happens when women win and lose elections...the public scrutiny p
Oct 30, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Missouri Democratic senator tells a number of interesting stories about her rise to prominence, but the book CD is a little disconcerting when she reads other people's praiseworthy remarks about her. It makes it difficult, at times, to tell whether she is still reading the other person's remarks or she has returned to her own voice. Although she at times plays down her ambition for higher office, her actions in seeking almost everything that came up along the way tell another story. And her ...more
Jan 06, 2019 rated it liked it
Fascinating and inspiring read. I am impressed with Senator McCaskill’s career trajectory and everything she has achieved.

I would caution that the writing is a little rough and I wish some sections were beefed up. I wanted to more details of her emotions and how she handled her setbacks. The writing was very guarded, but if you enjoy political memoirs, then this is a quick and enjoyable read.
Jul 15, 2017 rated it liked it
I am between 3 and 4 stars on this one. I really enjoyed the honesty she brings to her story (which is a unique one given our continued gender imbalance in leadership), but I think this book tries to cover too long of a time period or too many sub-themes. The final 3 chapters felt especially if they were tacked on there.
Kathy Heare Watts
I won a copy of this book during a Goodreads giveaway. I am under no obligation to leave a review or rating and do so voluntarily. I am paying it forward by passing this book along to a family member who I think will enjoy it too.
Jordon Hensley
Mar 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Claire McCaskill is an American hero! She has overcome great odds to be one of the leading moderate voices in the US Senate. This memoir is beautifully written and you can hear Claire's voice on every page.
Jan 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
Claire is a hero to the next generation of politic-minded Missourians; who else can say their senior senator shotguns beers on election night?
Dec 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
Good read
Jason Anthony
Sep 04, 2018 rated it it was ok
Lackluster writing, especially the first chapter, limits this book’s potential.
Aug 19, 2015 rated it it was ok
Setting up her run for another re-election battle? I have never been to Missouri, am not familiar with the state (other than Ferguson), but know her best from her...interesting re-election battle in 2012 vs. Todd "Legitimate rape" Akin. This was a seat that was poised to be a loss for the Democrats and McCaskill was looking at a truly uphill battle. But it turns out all she had to do was get out of the way and let the candidate repeatedly trip over himself.
That said, when I saw she had a book c
Aug 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I saw an interview on T. V. with Senator McCaskill discussing how she is investigating and analyzing the Iran Treaty. I was impressed at how she was educating herself about the treaty and the various other options available. So I decided to buy her book and read about her.

I discovered she is the first woman Senator from Missouri. She tells about her early life and her education. She earned a law degree and worked her way through school by working as a waitress. She worked as prosecutor and after
Feb 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
I decided to read this book for a couple of reasons. First, I've become accustomed to seeing Senator McCaskill on the morning talk show circuit promoting Hillary Clinton for President. So, I was curious as to how she was and how she became such a prominent Senator. Every time I watch her, I'm mesmerized by her tenacious defense of her position...whatever it may be. I admire people who can state a case with facts and persuasion, and she is really good at doing that on national television. Secondl ...more
Oct 26, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoirs
If you've seen an interview with Claire McCaskill, you know she's a pretty straightforward, no-nonsense kind of gal. I've always admired her plainspoken common sense, and taken an active interest in her politics. Reading this memoir has only deepened my respect for her, though, and helped me better understand what's made her the Senator and woman she is today.

Raised by a strong mother and supportive family in rural Missouri, McCaskill tells the story of her Missouri political career--from her t
Aug 19, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2015, first-reads
Here is my very belated review for this book. First things first, I received this book through a GoodReads First Reads giveaway. Now onto the review!

I went into this book knowing next-to-nothing about Claire McCaskill aside from the fact she was in Congress. I came out of the book admiring her fortitude, leadership, and willingness to say what she means.

This was a very readable political memoir. McCaskill does a good job relating how she got where to she is today. As a young woman who hasn't ma
Liz De Coster
On the pros side, McCaskill is as frank and opinionated in her descriptions as I believe she is in real life. From what I know of her, she seems to be laying out the facts fairly straightforwardly, and I appreciate her honesty about her ambitions and her stumbles. Despite this, her voice comes off as pretty flat. Perhaps it's the ghostwriter, but there are definitely moments when the book feels like a litany of names/dates/places. Even emotional moments, like her first husband's murder, seem to ...more
Aug 26, 2015 rated it liked it
Interesting but slow. Claire McCaskill is the Senior Senator for Missouri, my home state. She has always seemed to me to be honest and fair even when I don't necessarily agree with her. Before the Todd Akin "thing" (which she is now in trouble for revealing) I remember when she was "unasked" to be the graduation speaker at her daughter's high school graduation from a Catholic school because of her views. Claire did not complain or argue, she just accepted the decision and retained her opinion. T ...more
Dec 06, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Confession: I didn't know much about Claire McCaskill when I picked up this book. I chose this book because of the title. When a lady says she's plenty ladylike, there's usually something tough (and often hilarious) behind it.

That holds true here. Ms. McCaskill takes you through her history and the funny to not at all funny, cringe worthy stuff that is shared across the spectrum of ladies in jobs that were/are still being 'pioneered' by our fair sex. It's not all 'wrongs made against women' stu
Jan 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
I am so conflicted about this book. I went into reading it ready to become obsessed, to give her my money, to go knock on doors for her in 2018. But it is poorly written and just a little odd overall. My favorite part was when she writes about barb mikulski. I am grateful to her for her service, especially for her work to fight against sexual violence in the military. And yet She gives only a paragraph to Michael Brown. I am not convinced by her confusion over her taxes given her clear attention ...more
While McCaskill might be a little more moderate than I prefer, this was an interesting look into her political career and the challenges she faced as a woman campaigning in Missouri.

I think the most interesting insight was how Presidential campaigns can totally screw over state campaigns if they decide they aren't battleground states - because then the in-state campaigns suddenly have to come up with all of their own infrastructure and networks instead of being able to work with the Presidentia
Sep 16, 2015 rated it liked it
Senator Claire McCaskill reads her memoir Plenty Ladylike in the version I listened to through Audible. Her interview on NPR piqued my curiosity to learn more about women in the Senate. In my opinion there continues to be too few women elected to higher office. The chapter describing her campaign against Todd Akin could have been an episode on House of Cards and was fascinating. As with most nonfiction, I had a difficult time deciding how many stars to award. Senator McCaskill's book is somewhat ...more
Laura Stevens
Aug 29, 2015 rated it liked it
Would have been 4 stars, but on the very last page she basically claims that women will find more "security" by contributing to campaigns rather than saving money for college. I understand the sentiment, but

Still, as a whole the book is an interesting and uplifting read, if uneven at times. There were definitely parts that I skimmed and skipped (the chapter about her young life and parents, for example- I wish politicians didn't think this was obligatory to put into a memoir.)

Feb 05, 2016 rated it liked it
The autobiography of the United States Senator from Missouri reads like campaign hagiography. It provides information on the author's qualifications and background, and why someone should vote for her. There are few revelations or insights except for some tantalizing tidbits about the political strategies that she employed to be re-elected to the office of U.S. Senator. The strong final chapter on "leaning in" to become a woman politician who successfully runs for office, and is elected and serv ...more
Oct 18, 2015 rated it it was ok
Highly respect Senator McCaskill after reading this book, but really the only part I enjoyed reading was her run for Senator and the very last chapter about Redfining "Ladylike." She has a great message and it is good to see so much progress for women in politics. However, the book itself was dull a lot of the times and read like a list of facts instead of a coherent story, which made it really hard to get through.
Candace Brown
May 26, 2016 rated it liked it
This was very hard to read. I believe it is a generational issue as I was very bothered by her not standing up for herself. There is an instance where she walks into an office and opposing counsel asks her to get her coffee. Instead of saying "no, I am plaintiff's counsel" she walks over and gets him coffee. I found it very hard to stomach. Her race for senate the second time around was very interesting to read but I think she needs to stand up for herself more.
Sarah Elizabeth
Aug 04, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley
I loved learning more about my Kappa Alpha Theta sister Senator Claire McCaskill's life through this autobiography. I only gave it 3 stars though because the writing style wasn't my favorite = it seemed written too simply, but the chapters seemed disjointed in order of flow. I continue to admire Senator McCaskill and enjoyed reading the events that she feels shaped her into the Senator we all know today, I just wish the writing style was stronger and more dynamic.
Sep 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: political, memoir
Sen. McCaskill is an experienced, smart, strategic and hard-working US Senator. She tells her story well, with the kind of political details that I love. I also enjoyed learning more about her personal life, which for feminists is intertwined with the political. She gives practical advice to women thinking about running for office. Most importantly, perhaps, is that Sen. McCaskill makes it clear that women have to step up to contribute to and work for women candidates. Excellent read.
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“Running against Blunt, I had emphasized my résumé, but because I was a woman, I had come across not as experienced, but as icy or bitchy. This time I emphasized my biography: that I was a product of the country, that I knew Missouri and its people.” 0 likes
“...I heard repeatedly about a statement Madeleine Albright had made: “There is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women,” and it made me uncomfortable. But you can’t be for a woman just because she’s a woman; that is just as wrong as being for a man just because he’s a man. What we fight for is a level playing field.” 0 likes
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