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Al Franken, Giant of the Senate

4.18  ·  Rating details ·  23,221 ratings  ·  2,951 reviews
From Senator Al Franken - #1 bestselling author and beloved SNL alum - comes the story of an award-winning comedian who decided to run for office and then discovered why award-winning comedians tend not to do that.This is a book about an unlikely campaign that had an even more improbable ending: the closest outcome in history and an unprecedented eight-month recount saga, ...more
ebook, 304 pages
Published May 30th 2017 by Twelve (first published May 2017)
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JAB He makes it clear early on & throughout that he is a Minnesotan all the way. Fortunately, what is good for Minnesota seems to very good for the Middl…more He makes it clear early on & throughout that he is a Minnesotan all the way. Fortunately, what is good for Minnesota seems to very good for the Middle Class of the U.S. I'd be shocked if he ever ran for the the presidency. (less)
Robert He's written six other books so I'd bet this isn't the last. Unless he gets too busy then we'll have a long wait.…moreHe's written six other books so I'd bet this isn't the last. Unless he gets too busy then we'll have a long wait.(less)

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I would almost consider moving to Minnesota in order for Al Franken to be my senator.
Will Byrnes
First, I want to differentiate between what I thought of the book and what I have to say about Franken’s recent travails with alleged sexual misconduct, and his resignation from the Senate. That is at the bottom of the review, in a separate section.

In Giant of the Senate, Al Franken shows that not only is he a very smart, very serious student of public policy, but also that he retains the sense of humor that fueled his first career. He has been a writer for a long time. As any watcher of SNL kno
Bill Kerwin
Jun 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 20th-c-amer, politics

I wrote this review more than two years ago, before Alyssa Milano weaponized #Me Too and Harvey Weinstein came crashing down. Good for her, for Weinstein was a monster. Still, I can't help but mourn the loss of Franken, who--in spite of his minor (but real) sexual transgressions--was one of America's most accomplished progressive senators. Re-reading this old review made me realize all over again how much I miss him.

At last, here is a book which answers the burning question: why is Al Franken n
Jul 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Al Franken: Giant of the Senate is a 2017 Twelve publication.

It’s always a slippery slope when reviewing a non-fiction politically based book. However, in the states, the current political polarization makes it even more of a challenge.

But, never fear, this review will not be a political commentary. Franken's views fall within party lines, and if you are a democrat you will agree with him on most issues, and if not, you do know going in what his values are and what his political opinions will
Sep 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audiobook
I'm sure I'm not the only non American who has become obsessed with American politics over the last year or so. At first it was close to a prurient interest. As time goes by, it feels increasingly like what's happening in the US is relevant to my children's future environmental, economic and physical well being, so the interest feels more real and more personal. And I know I'm not alone...

So it's some comfort learn more about Al Franken -- to know that there are dedicated people willing to serve
Montzalee Wittmann
Jun 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Al Franken, Giant of the Senate by Al Franken is a book I was so ready to read and it did not disappoint. He started the book by going all the way back to his beginnings in comedy then on up to being a Senator. The reason for this was to show how hard it was to run for office after being a comedian and having every joke thrown in his face by both parties. This was an excellent book about how the inside of politics work and doesn't work. The inside of how corrupt some of these guys are. It told ...more
Aug 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had never heard of Al Franken before he became a U.S. Senator. He had been on Saturday Night Live in the 70's- early 90's, before I started watching SNL. So I had no knowledge of him before 2009 when he became a Senator.

Al Franken Giant of the Senate is a perfect mixture of comedy and politics. Senator Franken tells of his humble upbringing in Alberta Lea, Minnesota ( Yeah, I've never heard of it either), meeting his wife at a dance in college ( they've been together for over 40 years), getti
Steven Z.
Jun 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
In the current political climate with congressional hearings, a special prosecutor, and a chief executive who demands fealty as if he were a "godfather" it was good to read a political manifesto in the form of biography that with drips with sarcasm and humor. When one thinks of Al Franken, Saturday Night Live (SNL) comes to mind, and the “serious” laughter his writings, i.e., RUSH LIMBAUGH IS A BIG FAT IDIOT, and appearances produced. His new autobiography is in the same vein as he uses his life ...more
Description: From Senator Al Franken - #1 bestselling author and beloved SNL alum - comes the story of an award-winning comedian who decided to run for office and then discovered why award-winning comedians tend not to do that.This is a book about an unlikely campaign that had an even more improbable ending: the closest outcome in history and an unprecedented eight-month recount saga, which is pretty funny in retrospect. It's a book about what happens when the nation's foremost progressive satir ...more
Apr 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Check out a better-spelled version of this review on my very cromulent blog

UPDATE 12/6/17: Life is the worst. That said, I stand by my review and this book. Al behaved badly and he's going to resign because that's what you do. I hope he goes back to writing and works hard to be a better person. Or just writes a tell all book about how awful Ted Cruz is. I'd read that. We'd all read that.

"I can't tell you I'll always get it right. But I'll tell you this: I'm going to keep fighting as hard as I c
"My story, the one you've finished reading, is a small part of a bigger story-- the story of how progressives picked themselves up off the mat and made an epic comeback.

And now we have to do it again."

Al Franken is no longer the guy who rolls his eyes during Mitch McConnell's floor speech-- tempted as he may be. In his newest book, Franken details his transformation from funnyman to public servant and the many hiccups along the way. Franken won't compromise on his politics. He's passionate abou
Julie Ehlers
I thought Al Franken was funny on Saturday Night Live (“When you point your finger at someone else, you point three fingers back at yourself. And your thumb at God, I guess”), but as far as I’m concerned his work as a pundit is where he’s really distinguished himself—both as host of his own radio show on Air America and as the author of Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot, Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them, and The Truth (With Jokes) (all of which are excellent and worth your time). Reading an ...more
I wish all politicians had the same dedication and loyalty to their constituents as Senator Al Franken. I've always liked him, whether on SNL in the 70s or more recently grilling Trump's unorthodox cabinet nominees. He is not supposed to be funny or swear now that he is in the Senate, but I would say he just can't help it. So many examples given of what he was aching to say at certain times, things he was sure would have just killed. He restrained himself then, but shared the lost opportunities ...more
It had never occurred to me that reading the memoirs of a sitting senator could be an interesting and informative way to spend time. Congress has infuriated me for awhile now. Before I became laser-focused on politics in Washington, listening to the “can’t manage it” complaints from Democrats really burned me up, so the thought of giving a Congressperson more time to blather at me was unappealing.

Since I have been paying attention, however, I can see lots of areas where “can’t manage it” compla
Disclosure: I am Minnesotan and a Democrat (if I am in MN, I would be a DFLer).

Funny. Smart. Very Minnesotan. Dry humor. Very Al Franken.

Chapter 37 is the Ted Cruz chapter. (Worth it.)

Honestly, Al Franken has a knack for explaining government. I knew what he was talking about, but it felt nice reading it from someone on the inside which made it understandable. Franken is smart and willing to be a Senator for the state of Minnesota.
Nov 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: book-club
Well, that was prescient timing. Finished this about a week before "Al Franken, Infamous Groper" exploded across the news.

I've been vaguely interested in Al Franken because his name has been floated repeatedly as a potential 2020 Democratic presidential nominee, and as long as we're headed in the direction of political farce, there's something delicious about the idea of a 2020 election composed of "SNL" versus "The Apprentice."

I listened to this book on audio, and I have to say that if you plan
Aug 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“God Grant Me the Serenity to Accept the Things I Cannot Legislate
The Courage to Legislate the Things I Can
The Wisdom to Know the Difference
And the Patience to Explain the Difference to My Donors”

I don’t believe that reading this book will change your mind about Al or his politics so I will just list a few of the things that I enjoyed while reading his account of his life both before and during his time in the U.S. Senate.

1. He is funny, self-deprecating and satirical
2. He seems willing to hig
Clif Hostetler
Jan 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
This book is an engaging mix of polemical comedy and political memoir. I doubt that a more entertaining book can be found written by a sitting member of Congress. Coming from a progressive/liberal point of view, I found this book to be a reaffirming articulation of progressive political values which seem to receive mostly scorn and indifference from many current political office holders (a.k.a. Republicans).

The first half of the book is mostly personal memoir with minimal comment about politics
Barbara Venkataraman
Sep 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Dear Senator Franken:

Many people have read "Al Franken, Giant of the Senate" but I bet I'm the only one who read it in a dark shuttered house with a tiny flashlight as Hurricane Irma raged on, pounding trees and battering utility poles until they were just poles. Luckily, I had saved your book for a rainy day (the rainiest), which was also the longest day of my life (excluding childbirth).

Like millions of Americans, I've suffered anxiety, anguish, and angst since Election Day. Okay, I'm comple
Jun 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
Who would have dreamed a comedian from “Saturday Night Live” would end-up as a United States Senator? Franken states he realized early the value comedy has in explaining polities to the average voter. Franken states he is an old-fashioned Democrat whose Jewish parent instructed him in the importance of supporting the Civil Rights Movement. He was inspired by Paul Wellstone his Minnesota Senator who died in a plane crash in 2002. Franken ran for the Senate office and won.

Franken tells of turning
Brendan M.
Jun 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
"This is gonna suck for a while. But not forever."

A big hearted, hilarious, hopeful book. I'm not from Minnesota, but I'm proud we have people like Al Franken looking out for their interests - and for all Americans. If you're feeling down, you know, all the time, about the current state of affairs in the U.S. of A. - this might go a long way towards soothing that furrowed brow.

Also, lots of great Ted Cruz stories.
Jul 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
I always liked Al Franken. Now I can say I also admire him. I admire his passion for honesty and his disdain of liars. I admire the work he does as a U.S. Senator. I admire the sense of humor he brings to his life and work. I admire the way he maintains collegiality and even friendship with his Republican colleagues while at the same time opposing their agendas. I admire the way he tries to find common ground with his political opposites. I admire the way, in this book, he explains the workings ...more
Barbara (The Bibliophage)
Full review at

I bought Al Franken, Giant of the Senate after binge-watching the latest season of House of Cards. And, of course, during all the shenanigans created by the 45th President’s administration and family. I needed to feel something other than horror about politics. Thankfully, this audiobook did the trick.

Not only is Franken a great comedian and writer, he’s a great audiobook narrator. (Um, and a great Senator.) Since audiobooks are typically released after the print
”I don’t know what’s going to happen going forward. Heck, I don’t even know what’s going to happen between the time I finish this book and the time you read it.”

I added this book back in the early days of September, and have been on the waiting list at my library since then.

Between then and now, things were brought to light, certain allegations of sexual misconduct, and Al Franken resigned, and around that time, of course, was when this book became available to me, which made me question so
Ivonne Rovira
Jul 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There is absolutely only one way to read Al Franken, Giant of the Senate, and that is in audiobook form, read by The Honorable Alan Stuart Franken himself. As anyone who’s ever read Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot: And Other Observations or Lies: And the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right already knows, the book is, of course, hilarious. But, more importantly, Franken gives a mostly unvarnished look at what it’s like to run for office and to toil in the Senate. Eve ...more
Jun 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book! I haven't read Al Franken's previous books before, but they will certainly be on my "To Be Read" pile as soon as possible. He has a very honest take on politics which as we all know is extremely rare. He is just as willing to call himself a jerk and to admit if he made a mistake as he is to call out his colleagues on their contradictory or ill-informed opinions. I also appreciated that his take on the state of our government and political system now was not all doom and gloom. ...more
Conor Ahern
Jan 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book brought up a lot of emotions!

I have to say it--I think we were wrong to railroad Franken. And by we, I guess I mean Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand? *Sigh*

Look, the Republicans are a bunch of misogynist moral hypocrites. We all know this, even as the party that fights harder for women's rights and more accountability for abusers suffers the penalties of its scruples. But do Al Franken's churlish acts--all of which occurred before he was a Senator--justify not only his resignation as a powerfu
Al Franken, comedian turned politician, decided to write a book about his own life. Franken's memoir starts with his childhood, talks about his career as a comedian, and finally turns to his political journey. I am sure this is of interest to many Americans and those who follow the nitty-gritty of American politics keenly. I don't - not to this extent.

But apart from this, the writing was intensely boring. Franken's life was just not interesting enough for me to finish the book. And what's more,
Mal Warwick
Jun 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
If you’re expecting nonstop laughs from Al Franken’s memoir, Al Franken, Giant of the Senate, you’ll be disappointed. Naturally, the book is laced with Franken’s signature humor. He rarely passes up an opportunity to go for a laugh. That even begins with the tongue-in-cheek title. But what comes through most strongly in this book is the man’s intelligence. If you’ve had the opportunity to talk to Al Franken, hear him speak about government policy or politics, or witness him in action on C-SPAN, ...more
Oct 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A straight-forward, mid-western attitude comes through as Al Franken tells the story of his two careers. He gives you get a glimpse of how the original and early SNL shows were put together and what it is like to campaign for and then be a US Senator. While there is humor throughout, it often appears as a professional evaluation of the jokes he has used at opportune (and inopportune) moments (and some he wished he could interject).

While I’ve read a number of Senator bios and autobios, Franken br
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Alan Stuart "Al" Franken is an Emmy Award–winning American comedian, writer, progressive political commentator, and, recently, politician. He gained fame as a writer and a performer for Saturday Night Live, eventually writing and appearing in several films. Since then, Franken has become more known for his political commentary, writing numerous bestselling books and hosting a nationally-syndicated ...more

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