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The Truths We Hold: An American Journey

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From one of America's most inspiring political leaders, a book about the core truths that unite us, and the long struggle to discern what those truths are and how best to act upon them, in her own life and across the life of our country.

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris's commitment to speaking truth is informed by her upbringing. The daughter of immigrants, she was raised in an Oakland, California community that cared deeply about social justice; her parents--an esteemed economist from Jamaica and an admired cancer researcher from India--met as activists in the civil rights movement when they were graduate students at Berkeley. Growing up, Harris herself never hid her passion for justice, and when she became a prosecutor out of law school, a deputy district attorney, she quickly established herself as one of the most innovative change agents in American law enforcement. She progressed rapidly to become the elected District Attorney for San Francisco, and then the chief law enforcement officer of the state of California as a whole. Known for bringing a voice to the voiceless, she took on the big banks during the foreclosure crisis, winning a historic settlement for California's working families. Her hallmarks were applying a holistic, data-driven approach to many of California's thorniest issues, always eschewing stale "tough on crime" rhetoric as presenting a series of false choices. Neither "tough" nor "soft" but smart on crime became her mantra. Being smart means learning the truths that can make us better as a community, and supporting those truths with all our might. That has been the pole star that guided Harris to a transformational career as the top law enforcement official in California, and it is guiding her now as a transformational United States Senator, grappling with an array of complex issues that affect her state, our country, and the world, from health care and the new economy to immigration, national security, the opioid crisis, and accelerating inequality.

By reckoning with the big challenges we face together, drawing on the hard-won wisdom and insight from her own career and the work of those who have most inspired her, Kamala Harris offers in The Truths We Hold a master class in problem-solving, in crisis management, and leadership in challenging times. Through the arc of her own life, on into the great work of our day, she communicates a vision of shared struggle, shared purpose, and shared values. In a book rich in many home truths, not least is that a relatively small number of people work very hard to convince a great many of us that we have less in common than we actually do, but it falls to us to look past them and get on with the good work of living our common truth. When we do, our shared effort will continue to sustain us and this great nation, now and in the years to come.

336 pages, Kindle Edition

First published January 8, 2019

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About the author

Kamala Harris

19 books621 followers
Kamala D. Harris is a lifelong public safety and civil rights leader, and is currently serving as a U.S. Senator from California. She began her career in the Alameda County District Attorney's Office, then was elected District Attorney of San Francisco. As California's Attorney General, Kamala prosecuted transnational gangs, big banks, Big Oil, for-profit colleges and fought against attacks on the Affordable Care Act. Harris also fought to reduce elementary school truancy and pioneered the nation's first open data initiative to expose racial disparities in the criminal justice system and implemented implicit bias training for police officers. The second black woman ever elected to the U.S. Senate, Kamala has worked to reform our criminal justice system, raise the minimum wage, make higher education tuition-free for the majority of Americans, and protect the legal rights of refugees and immigrants.

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Profile Image for Dr. Appu Sasidharan (Dasfill).
1,047 reviews2,051 followers
January 20, 2021
(01-20-2021) Congratulations, Kamala Harris, for becoming the 49th Vice President of the USA.

Kamala Harris is an American politician and attorney who is the first Black woman and the first person of Indian descent to become the USA's vice president.

What did I learn from this book?

1) The importance of books in a human beings life

Kamala is a person who knew the importance of books and reading right from childhood. That might be the thing which helped her to develop her greatest quality- empathy. The eclectic and undogmatic nature we acquire due to continuous reading makes us develop a gratifying personality.

"When they (Kamala's parents) divorced, they didn't fight about money. The only thing they fought about was who got the books"

She also believes that education is the essential thing needed to make our future safe.

"Like it or not, most people prioritize their own safety over the education of someone else's child. I wanted to make them see that if we didn't prioritize education now, it would be a public safety matter later."

2) The biggest gift that a human being can get is to have an amazing mother
Kamala knows and mentions everywhere that her mother is the greatest gift that God gave her. She is very proud of her and says about her whenever she achieves something in her life (including the victory speech when she became the Vice President-elect of the USA.) Her mother's potential to edify her was exemplary. The next two sentences vividly show how much her mother has influenced Kamala.

"My mother pushed us hard and with high expectations as she nurtured us. And all the while, she made Maya and me feel special like we could do anything we wanted to if we put in the work."

"From my grandparents, my mother learned that it was service to others that gave life purpose and meaning. And from my mother, Maya, and I learned the same."

Kamala says that every time she mentions her mother's name when she achieves something in her life, she finds it extremely difficult to hold her tears and maintain her composure. It shows how much she loves her mother and how her mother was a driving force for Kamala's success

" On January 3, 2011, I walked down the stairs of California Museum for Women, History, and the Arts, in Sacramento for my Inaugural ceremony as an attorney general. But what I remember most vividly about the day was the worry I felt about saying my mother's name in my address while keeping my composure. I'd practiced over and over again and choked up every time. But it was important to me that her name be spoken in that room, because none of what I had achieved would have been possible without her."

Kamala Harris said in her first address to the nation as Vice President-Elect, "I'm grateful to the woman most responsible for my presence here today, my mother, Shyamala Gopalan Harris. When she came here from India at the age of 19, she maybe didn't imagine this moment. But she believed so deeply in America where a moment like this is possible,"

3) How can we make a child creative and confident
The passage where Kamala describes Regina Shelton, who ran a nursery school below Kamala's apartment, shows us how one single small act of kindness by a person can strongly influence a child. Let's see that passage in Kamala's own words.

"I will never forget the time I made lemon bars to share. I had spent one afternoon making a lemon bar recipe that I'd found in one of my mother's cookbooks. They had turned out beautifully, and I was excited to show them off. I put them on a plate, covered them with Saran Wrap, and walked over to Mrs. Shelton's house, where she was sitting at the kitchen table, sipping tea and laughing with her sister, Aunt Bea, and my mother. I proudly showed off my creation to them, and Mrs. Shelton took a big bite. It turned out I had used salt instead of sugar, but, not having tasted them myself, I didn't know.

"Mmmm, honey," Mrs. Shelton responded in her graceful southern accent, her lips slightly puckered from the taste. "That's delicious... maybe a little too much salt... but really delicious." I didn't walk away thinking I was a failure. I walked away, thinking I had done a great job, and just made one small mistake. It was little moments like those that helped me build a natural sense of confidence. I believed I was capable of anything."

If Mrs. Shelton had made fun of Kamala or projected her fault of putting salt instead of sugar more than appreciating her creativity, Kamala's confidence and creativity would have taken severe hampering. This simple act of kindness shown by Mrs. Shelton is the most important thing that we should learn to do while raising our kids. It will surely make them a good human being. It will even help them to develop into a great leader like Kamala Harris in the future.

4) The importance of meeting great personalities when we are young
This is the one common thing I observed in the biographies of great personalities. If we read the Encyclopedia of Biography and other multiple memoirs, we will notice a striking similarity that almost everyone had an opportunity to meet great personalities when they were young. In my opinion, all the schools should provide multiple opportunities for the students to interact with great leaders and personalities who are considered to be the best in their sphere of life. One single conversation or even a single handshake might change the kids' future in the best possible way. Kamala also shares her similar experiences in this book. She describes her meeting some amazing people in Rainbow Sign, which was a black cultural center.

"In 1971, Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm paid a visit while she was exploring a run for President. Talk about strength! "U bought and Unbossed," just as her campaign slogan promised. Alice Walker, who went on to win the Pulitzer Prize for The Color Purple, did a reading at Rainbow Sign. So did Maya Angelou, the first black female best-selling author, thanks to her autobiography, I know why the caged bird sings. Nina Simone performed at Rainbow Sign when I was seven years old. I would later learn that Warren Widener, Berkeley's first black mayor, proclaimed March 31, 1972, Nina Simone Day, to commemorate her two-day appearance.

I loved the electric atmosphere at Rainbow Sign- the laughter, the food, the energy. I loved the powerful orations from the stage and the witty, sometimes unruly audience banter. It was where I learned that artistic expression, ambition, and intelligence were cool. It was where I came to understand that there is no better way to feed someone's brain than by bringing together food, poetry, politics, music, dance, and art."

If you are a person who read My life by Bill Clinton there is no need to explain the above photo as the photo speaks for itself. But I will still explain for the people who don't know about it yet.

In 1963 Students of Boys Nation, including the young Bill Clinton, gathered in the White House Rose Garden. John F. Kennedy then moved into the crowd to meet the students. Clinton later recalled the moment, saying, "I was about the third or fourth person in, and…I sort of muscled my way up (to the front)." Their interaction was brief, a firm handshake before Kennedy moved on to the next student. But video and photos capturing the event show Clinton's admiration and near disbelief that he was meeting one of his political idols.

The impact of that moment was obvious almost immediately. According to several of his fellow delegates, Clinton spent the bus ride back to the Boys Nation dorms talking about the event. As future Minnesota Congressman Jim Ramstad recalled, Clinton said to him, "Someday, I'm going to have that job."

5) Being a mother is an attitude, not a biological relation
You don't have to be a biological mother to be a great mother. Kamala is a great mother to Cole and Ella and considers them as her own children. The following paragraph from this book shows her sublime opinion of being a parent.

"Nothing makes a child feel more secure than being tucked in by a parent at the end of a day, getting a kiss and a hug, a good-night story, falling asleep to the sound of their voice. Nothing is more important to a parent than talking with tethering child at night before the child goes to sleep, answering their questions, comforting and reassuring them in the face of any fears, making sure they know that everything will be okay. Parents and children everywhere relate to these rituals. They are part of the human experience."

6) Failing doesn’t make you a failure

“What defines us is how well we rise after falling”

It is impossible to live a life only filled with success. Everyone will fail at least once in their life. Some people can't handle the chagrin that might be associated with failing and consider themselves a failure and chastise themselves by even ending their lives. Through her own life, Kamala shows how to deal with such a situation. She shows us that the way we respond when we fail in our life determines how successful we become in the future.

"I finished law school in the spring of 1989 and took the bar exam in July. In the waning weeks of summer, my future seemed so bright and so clear. The countdown to the life I imagined had begun

And then, with a jolt, I was stopped in my tracks. In November, the state bar sent letters out to those who had taken the exam, and, to my utter devastation, I had failed. I couldn't get my head around it. It was almost too much to bear. My mother had always told me, "Don't do anything half-assed," and I had always taken that to heart. I was a hard worker. A perfectionist. Someone who didn't take things for granted. But there I was, letter in hand, realizing that in studying for the bar, I had put forward the most half-assed performance of my life.

Fortunately, I still had a job in the district attorney's office. They were going to keep me on, with clerk duties, and gave me space to study to retake the exam in February, I was grateful for that, but it was hard to go into the office, feeling inadequate and incompetent. Just about everyone else who had been hired along with me had passed, and they were going to move on with their training without me. I remember walking by someone's office and hearing them say to someone else, "But she's so smart. How could she have not passed?" I felt miserable and embarrassed. I wondered if people thought I was a fraud. But I held my head up and kept going to work every day- and I passed on my second attempt. I was so proud, and so honored the day I was sworn in as an officer of the court, and I showed up at the courthouse ready to start the work."

7) Duality of immigrant experience in America
Kamala explains something vital that immigrants might face when they start living in the USA

"On the one hand, it is an experience characterized by an extraordinary sense of hopefulness and purpose, a deep belief in the power of the American Dream- an experience of possibility. At the same time, it is an experience too often scarred by stereotyping scapegoating, in which discrimination, both explicit and implicit, is part of everyday life."

Even though it is a feeling felt by many immigrants, they won't publicly acknowledge it. Even after being a public figure and knowing that her every word will be scrutinized very severely, Kamala is fearless to express her true feelings. She is not ready to project an image telling only the things that the public might love. This shows us that Kamala is unique and genuine, unlike many other politicians.

My favourite lines from this book
"There is something that my (Kamala's) mother used to say that I always held close. "You may be the first. Don't be the last." My mother had gotten to where she was because of the help of mentors. I had gotten to where I was because of mentors, too. And I intended to be a mentor to as many people as I could during the course of my career."

"Black men use drugs at the same rate as white men, but they are arrested twice as often for it. And then they pay more than a third more than their counterparts, on average, in bail. Black men are six times as likely as white men to be incarcerated. And when they are convicted, black men get sentences nearly 20 percent longer than those given to their white counterparts. Latino men don't fare much better. It is truly appalling."

"Tomorrow's generations will suffer as a result of yesterday's folly and greed. We cannot change what has already happened. But we can make sure it never happens again."

"If you want our children to have cures for humanity's most terrible diseases, we should invest in our national medical researches, instead of relying on companies that would rather funnel money to their shareholders."

"The American people have not given up on the American Dream. I know this to be true. But when you can't sleep at night, how can you dream."

5/5. I loved the experience of reading this book, and I recommend this book to everyone. I want to conclude this review with the lines that inspired me the most in this book.

"Years from now, our children and our grandchildren will look up and lock eyes with us. They will ask us where we were when the stakes were so high. They will ask us what it was like. I don't want us to just tell them how we felt. I want us to tell them what we did.
Profile Image for Elyse Walters.
3,922 reviews35.4k followers
August 11, 2020
Congrats to Kamala Harris ....
Vice President running mate with Joe Biden.

Doing the happy dance!!! I’m pleased!!!

Audiobook...read by Kamala Harris

After listening to Pete Buttigieg’s book,
“The Shortest Way Home”....STILL IMPRESSED and in ‘aw’ of him....
...I consider him a strong important viable candidate for President....
I wasn’t planning on listening to the other major contenders’ books....
But here I am again...
....with many thanks to *Connie* for being an inspiration.... ( who is doing her research and homework learning all she can about our major presidential contenders)...
With so many people running for President,
I, too, am trying to learn all I can.

I respect Kamala Harris....formerly Attorney General of California....and United States Senator from California...
Born in Oakland ... a local girl - like me.

...The very beginning - a personal family/ dinner true story the night of the last election...almost had me in tears within the first 5 minutes. I was really moved.

I doubt anyone would doubt Kamala’s sincerity of what her life is about:
SERVICE and CONTRIBUTING gives her life purpose and meaning....
and Kamala speaks from her heart.

Her life story is absolutely interesting to learn. ‘Mommy’ really did do right by Kamala and her sister.
Their mother was one heck of an inspiring woman.
I came away with Questions about Kamala: The big one...
Do I feel she is the best candidate to run against Trump?

After listening to the entire Audiobook....
I’ve concluded - that I like her as a person. I love her compassion - desire - and drive - I’d stand behind her if elected- SHE’S VERY INSPIRING....
but I’m such a fan of Pete Buttigieg....
It’s who I ‘most’ wish would win.
Yikes... was I supposed to share my favorite?

It’s not easy to review a memoir/political book and not have political opinions.

Overall, I’m left feeling Kamala Harris’s intentions are great - especially her perspectives on the current political climate - and core beliefs regarding humanity.

This book itself was listening enjoyment!!!
Profile Image for Swrp.
561 reviews108 followers
May 2, 2021
There was an expectation of this book to be more of a personal life memoir, but the content was less personal and more of political achievements and issues on which America, as a nation, will need to focus. It can be said the focus of this book is more on the American voters than the regular Global readers (like me!).

The content does show and highlight the credibility, integrity, personal character and also clarity of Kamala Harris as an individual.

I will surely look forward to a more focussed memoir from Kamala Harris - a book that can go into the literary shelves and not the campaign counters.

About the book:

The Truths We Hold: An American Journey is a memoir by Kamala Harris. Harris details her life as the daughter of immigrants. She describes her childhood and the neighbourhood she grew up in. Harris mentions about her time and achievements as the San Francisco district attorney. The book discusses her time as California Attorney General, the election to the U.S. Senate in 2016, and her few fights against the Trump administration.
Profile Image for Jenna ❤ ❀  ❤.
770 reviews1,147 followers
November 9, 2020
Update 11/08/20:
Congratualations to Kamala Harris, the US' first female, first Black, first Asian-American Vice-President!

Kamala Dancing GIF - Kamala Dancing GIFs

Original review 3/25/19:

Not being from California, I hadn't heard of Senator Kamala Harris until recently. Because she has entered the Democrat presidential race, I wanted to learn more about her. The first thing I learned in this book was that I was pronouncing her name wrong. It's "Comma-la" not "Kah-MAL-uh. This is what happens when you don't watch tv and get your news by reading it -- you don't know how to pronounce names correctly and when you realise you've been saying it wrong feel rather dumb! Oh well, now I know so that's what is important.

​The Truths We Hold: An American Journey​ is a political memoir but it also talks some about Ms. Harris' childhood, growing up poor with a single mother. I really enjoyed learning about her childhood, but her adult political life is very interesting as well. She started out working for the DA as a prosecutor, then served as the District Attorney for San Francisco. This was followed by being elected Attorney General of California and more recently, elected the 3rd female senator of California (and first of Indian or Jamaican descent).

Senator Harris highlights her career achievements, discusses many of the issues facing America today, and details what she has done and plans to do to fix these issues. Ms. Harris comes across as a woman of deep intellect and compassion and I have a lot of respect for her having read this book. Whether or not I will vote for her remains to be seen, as I weigh her against the others who run for the Democratic nomination. She is certainly someone I will be watching, and I recommend this book to anyone wishing to learn more about a brilliant woman who hopes to be the US' next president. (Update 11/8/20 -- Kamala Harris #47!)
Profile Image for Joe Valdez.
478 reviews785 followers
December 23, 2022
I bought The Truths We Hold: An American Journey because I'm settling on a U.S. presidential candidate to volunteer for. My mom's experience volunteering for Beto O'Rourke's Senate campaign showed me how rewarding that experience can be (and also got me a rad T-shirt). With California bumping its primary up to March 2020, the Golden State will finally help decide who the Democratic nominee will be and I want to help the candidate who best represents my interests win. Twenty-three have entered the race and I've settled on my top three.

I've voted for Kamala Harris in every election she's been on a ballot--for California Attorney General in 2010 and 2014 and U.S Senate in 2016, all races she won--but there was much about her background that I learned from this spirited memoir, which is as straight-forward and minces few words as most campaign year books do, but takes the reader through Harris's personal, educational and professional life up to her candidacy for U.S. president in January 2019. Her main ideas are there in the title: the value of truth from our public office holders and her unique journey there.

Say It Right

-- First, my name is pronounced "comma-la," like the punctuation mark. It means "lotus flower," which is a symbol of significance in Indian culture. A lotus grows underwater, its flower rising above the surface while its roots are planted firmly in the river bottom.

Second Generation

-- My mother had been raised in a household where political activism and civic leadership came naturally. Her mother, my grandmother Rajam Gopalan, had never attended high school, but she was a skilled community organizer. She would take in women who were being abused by their husbands, and then she'd call the husbands and tell them they'd better shape up or she would take care of them. She used to gather the village women together, educating them about contraception. My grandfather P.V. Gopalan had been part of the movement to win India's independence. Eventually, as a senior diplomat in the Indian government, he and my grandmother had spent time living in Zambia after it gained independence, helping settle refugees.

Rainbow Sign

-- The Bay Area was home to so many extraordinary black leaders and was bursting with black pride in some places. People had migrated there from all over the country. This meant that kids like me who spent time at Rainbow Sign were exposed to dozens of extraordinary men and women who showed us what we could become. In 1971, Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm paid a visit while she was exploring a run for president. Talk about strength! "Unbought and Unbossed," just as her campaign slogan promised. Alice Walker, who went on to win the Pulitzer Prize for The Color Purple, did a reading at Rainbow Sign. So did Maya Angelou, the first black female bestselling author, thanks to her autobiography, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. Nina Simone performed at Rainbow Sign when I was seven years old.

Career Day

-- Though the seed was planted very early on, I'm not sure, exactly, when I decided I wanted to be a lawyer. Some of my greatest heroes were lawyers: Thurgood Marshall, Charles Hamilton Houston, Constance Baker Motley--giants of the civil rights movement. I cared a lot about fairness, and I saw the law as a tool that can help make things fair. But I think what drew me to the profession was the way people around me trusted and relied on lawyers. Uncle Sherman and our close friend Henry were lawyers, and any time someone had a problem, within the family or neighborhood, the first thing you'd hear was "Call Henry. Call Sherman. They'll know what to do. They'll know how to make sense of this." I wanted to be able to do that. I wanted to be one of the people called. I wanted to be the one who could help.

Harris tees off on criminal justice reform first, particularly her efforts to reform the nation's bail system, as well as need to rethink the war on drugs and how we address police brutality. She considers herself a progressive prosecutor, representing the people and using discretion to dismiss cases as well as put criminals behind bars. Her contentious negotiations with Bank of America and phone duel with JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon over a settlement award for California is a highlight of the book. Immigration reform, protecting DACA recipients and her opposition to a border wall in the Senate comes in next.

But there is a bigger reason to oppose the border wall. A useless wall on the southern border would be nothing more than a symbol, a monument standing in opposition to not just everything I value, but the fundamental values upon which this country was built. The Statue of Liberty is the monument that defines to the world who we are. Emma Lazarus's words--"Give me your tired, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free"--speak to our true character: a generous country that respects and embraces those who have made the difficult journey to our shores, often fleeing harm; that sees our quintessentially optimistic, can-do spirit in those who aspire to make the American Dream their own. How could I vote to build what would be little more than a monument, designed to send the cold, hard message "KEEP OUT"?

The immigration debate is so often defined by false choices. I remember a town hall I held in Sacramento, where a group of the president's supporters showed up. One man said he thought I cared more about undocumented immigrants than I cared about the American people. It was a false choice. I care deeply about them both. Similarly, the budget debate was offering a false choice: fund the government or oppose the wall. I believed we could do both.

Harris writes what she would do to strengthen the Affordable Care Act, expand Medicare for all and leverage the bargaining power of the federal government to lower prescription drug prices. Without mentioning the acting president by name, she attacks his policy agenda as well as his controversial appointments, which as a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and Homeland Security Committee, Harris has questioned in public hearings. Her differences with the regime are made very clear.

What's the result of all this? It's been great for the richest 1 percent of American households, who now own 40 percent of the nation's wealth, which adds up to roughly $40 trillion. But it's been a financial nightmare for the middle class. According to research done by United Way, 43 percent of households can't afford basic expenses: a roof over their head, food on the table, child care, transportation, and a cell phone.

And yet with millions of Americans hanging by a thread, the White House reached for scissors. In 2017, the administration cut taxes for people who didn't need it and raised taxes on people who can't afford it. They sabotaged the Affordable Care Act, driving up premiums. They ignited a trade war that could lead to higher prices on things we all buy, from groceries to cars. They nominated judges intent on destroying organized labor. They cancelled a pay raise for federal civil servants--everyone from transportation security officers to food inspectors, park rangers, medical personnel, and more. They even halted the debt relief policy that we put in place to help Corinthian Colleges' victims. And for good measure, they did away with net neutrality, which will allow internet companies to charge a premium for popular websites for the first time, adding an unacceptable new bill to the stack.

If, like me, you're looking for information about the candidates running for U.S. president in 2020, without the media playing gatekeeper, I highly recommend this memoir. Harris offers a progressive public policy agenda, albeit one lacking in details, and her personal history strongly contrasts with the background of the current president. I believe she'd make a tough campaigner and excellent chief executive. Harris would not only be the first female president of the United States, but the first in an interracial marriage. She has two stepchildren from her husband's previous marriage but like me, no lineal descendants, which is also rare for politicians.

Here's a college photo, graduating from Howard University in 1986, with Harris in the center.

Profile Image for Michael.
657 reviews966 followers
April 20, 2020
A solid memoir from the junior U.S. Senator for California, The Truths We Hold sketches the author’s early life, political career, and 2020 campaign platform. Over the course of ten short chapters Kamala Harris alternates between recounting her personal history and outlining her vision for the nation; the daughter of an Indian mother and Jamaican father, Harris positions herself as a bold liberal capable of building an expansive coalition of voters and achieving wide-ranging reforms once in office. The memoir tests out potential slogans and reads as fairly cautious, in that Harris shies away from advocating democratic socialism, qualifies many of her bolder proposals, and takes great pains to defend her past as a prosecutor. The work's cloaked in progressive rhetoric but unfortunately scant on policy explanations, and it's easy to see why; from her watering down of Medicare for All to her half-hearted plan for student loan forgiveness, the candidate's actual platform is far from radical and hardly interested in structural change.
Profile Image for Diane S ☔.
4,695 reviews14.1k followers
September 23, 2020
It was wonderful to listen to this in Kamala's own voice. Her voice is nice and clear, engaging. Her views on criminal justice reform, banks, immigration and other issues, seem somewhat to align with mine. A fairer, more just country for all. Sounds good in theory but socioeconomic problems are so hard to solve. An ongoing struggle of many, many years and many, many people, aid packages, etc. Greed and the wealthy, well good luck with that.

Her background is an interesting one, her career as District Attorney, her struggles in Congress, her personal life are all related. I've become very disenchanted politically, seriously feel that our government has lost its way. A government no longer for or by the people. Can she change this? Probably not, no one has yet though in the last baby steps were taken.

I just wonder if she is as caring and natural as she sounds. I sincerely hope we get the chance to find out.
Profile Image for Brandice.
824 reviews
July 22, 2019
The Truths We Hold: An American Journey by Senator Kamala Harris takes a dive into the current state of American politics as well as the policies, legislation, and initiatives Harris has undertaken in her present and previous roles.

The book is a mix of memoir and political observations. I didn’t realize how much Harris has accomplished prior to reading this book but will say the parts about her personal life were more interesting to me.

Harris’ intelligence is obvious and I appreciated her message throughout the book that so many of today’s issues don’t have to have an “either/or” solution:

”For too long, we’d been told there were only two options: to be either tough on crime or soft on crime—an oversimplification that ignored the realities of public safety. You can want the police to stop crime in your neighborhood and also want them to stop using excessive force. You can want them to hunt down a killer on your streets and also want them to stop using racial profiling. You can believe in the need for consequence and accountability, especially for serious criminals, and also oppose unjust incarceration. I believed it was essential to weave all these varied strands together.”

3.5 stars (rounded up) and a book recommended for anyone frustrated with the state of American politics today.
Profile Image for Barbara.
268 reviews206 followers
November 11, 2020
There are many ways to have a rich childhood. Having parents who are financially well-off is only one way. According to the Merriam Webster dictionary the second definition of rich is "having high value or quality". By this definition, Kamala Harris had a rich childhood.

Kamala was raised in a loving home by highly educated parents. From an early age they instilled in her the importance of working hard and fighting for her beliefs. She attended marches for justice while still in a stroller. Visiting her Mom's research lab as a young child she experienced the dedication to a belief and the importance of commitment. She also learned that a home is a place of support, shared meals, and most of all, love. The neighborhood where Kamala spent most of her childhood also reinforced this. A community center where neighbors shared meals and children developed skills also nurtured the young Kamala.

These early influences greatly affected her as she grew and accomplished so much. From law school to district attorney, attorney general of California, state senator, and Democratic candidate for vice-president, she has listened to her mother's words; follow what in your heart you know is right and never stop fighting for it.

This political memoir might be self-promoting, but most books of this genre are. I chose to read this book because I wanted to know more about this prominent Democrat. Her intelligence, integrity, compassion, and toughness are characteristics I admire. She should make all women proud.
Profile Image for Trish.
1,352 reviews2,396 followers
January 27, 2019
It is difficult to critique political memoirs without seeming to be critical the high-minded ideals these writers espouse. Kamala Harris appears outside the norm for the kind of Washington politician we’ve put up with these past twenty years. Formerly Attorney General of California, she had to find solutions to big thorny problems that plagued governance of that state. If she didn’t “solve” the problems for all time, she always came down fighting for the side of individuals against corporate entities, big business, or thoughtless, inadequate government.

Early on in this memoir Senator Harris speaks with some awe of the work of Maura Healy, current Attorney General of Massachusetts, who has been firm in defending statewide consumer protections in that state unlike any other. She mentions the work now-Senator and presidential-hopeful Elizabeth Warren has done to protect consumers from predatory lending practices and investment scams of big banks, or the greed of big pharma.

Harris’ own work is strictly in this vein. Criminal justice reform, racial justice, environmental protections, wage equality, regulation of banks and corporation, fair practices for consumers. For a woman who has never served in the military, no one could ever argue this woman doesn’t know what war looks like. She has investigated the heart of drug smuggling from Mexico, immigration, sex trafficking, and other rough criminal ventures that make our hair curl. She knows what government power means and when and how to use it. She’s tough. And disciplined. And principled.

After seeing how the country suffers when the presidency is filled by someone inadequate to the demands of the job, we should ever be grateful that someone of Harris’ gifts stands up to take on the brutality we’ve witnessed in Washington. Harris is the winged goddess Nemesis wielding a sword; she is implacable justice, avenger of crime. It will be bloody but it will be over when she’s done.

Until Donald Trump (and more and more I am convinced that election was not a fair demonstration of the national will), we’ve never elected someone with as little support from the major parties. Democrats now have very little patience left for what is the husk of a Republican Party, and Republicans appear to detest what Democrats stand for. Harris will not be a cross-over candidate. She will be vengeance.

This book is an introduction to Harris and is very good for that. Kamala was born in Oakland in the sixties of a Jamaican-economist father, and a Tamil Indian-endocrinologist mother who’d met at Berkeley during the civil rights movement. She and a sister, Maya, who is two years younger, were brought up by her single-parent mother after the breakup of her parents while she was still a child. She married Douglas Emhoff, a lawyer, in 2014. Emhoff had two children during a previous marriage.

Harris begins her book talking about her youth and the importance of recognizing that our nation has been enriched by immigration. She is proud of her black heritage and chose Howard University for her undergraduate degree and graduated University of CA Hastings College of Law in 1989. She admits to terrible embarrassment at failing the CA bar the first time, but her employers supported her next, successful attempt.

Harris began as Deputy District Attorney in San Francisco, then won the race for District Attorney in San Francisco in 2003. By 2004 she’d begun a program called Back on Track, to help youthful nonviolent offenders to get back into the community through work. The program was considered a success though it had a low graduation rate and was instituted in several other counties and eventually became state law.

When Harris won the election for CA State Attorney General in 2010, the race tally was so close the election results were not announced for three weeks. One of her first successes was against banks liable after the sub-prime mortgage crisis, winning $26 billion from the banks, including $12 million for homeowners. As AG, Harris initiated investigations into sex and drug trafficking, hate crimes, environmental degradation, predatory lending, school truancy and foster care, as well as prison conditions and sentencing reform.

Barbara Boxer announced she was going to retire as Senator to CA in 2016, and Harris was one of the first to announce her candidacy for Boxer’s seat. Harris is generally well-regarded at home in CA and among those who search for and vet candidates for high national office like Supreme Court and Attorney General of the U.S. There has been some grumbling that Harris defends misconduct by law enforcement, but overall these complaints have not hurt her popularity in the state. Harris won the congressional election against Loretta Sanchez with 62% of the vote, winning in all but four counties.

Since being in Washington, Senator Harris has been a hard-hitting and outspoken critic of Trump’s policies and the Democratic Party now considers her a front-runner for president. We learn that her name Kamala (COMMA-la) means lotus, a flower that blooms above the water while its roots are planted in mud. That’s quite a visual for a successful presidency.

I listened to the audio of this read by the author and produced by Penguin Audio. It is a successful sprint through the high points of a career not yet over. We get a sense of her personality, her drive, her family and friends. She is quite an opponent.
Profile Image for Ietrio.
6,597 reviews25 followers
April 27, 2019
Reading this I felt it was another unscrupulous politician lying all the way to the voting booth. Yet, among all the crap politicians with an unintelligent following, Harris seems to have by far the most aggressive bunch of bullies.

Original review: Another unscrupulous politician lying all the way to the voting booth.

The unpleasant is pushed under the rug, the presumed positive is inflated. Business as usual.

I clearly don't get the US politics. I get the mindless tribalism that make Harris good because she is "ours". But beyond that it's over me. One should not prize a generously paid government bureaucrat for doing their job, the same way I won't give a Senatorial job with all the perks to the dry cleaner JUST for not ruining my leather coat. And one should certainly not take into account "the intention" when people like Harris abuse their powers, the same way I would not be well impressed when the local busybody burns down the neighbor's house because they thought the mosquito they saw was carrying zika and used a blowtorch to hunt it down.
Profile Image for Judith E.
532 reviews188 followers
December 12, 2020
I first noticed Kamala Harris during her questioning of a witness in the Trump impeachment hearing. She didn’t grand stand and she didn’t read a statement written by an aide. She searched for the facts and demanded direct answers to her questions. She was formidable.

Her book reveals her strong family values and her connection to the personal struggles and travails of her constituents. She stresses the importance of innovative ideas to solve problems, as in her criminal justice programs of California. She understands the importance of a fair immigration system, the threats of cyber security, and the devastating effects of untethered banking institutions.

I believe Ms. Harris is intelligent, moral, energetic, and the bright shining star in the 2021 White House. The book was written while promoting her presidential campaign and it isn’t a literary feat, but it gives solid information about her background and her political influences.
Profile Image for Deanna.
924 reviews53 followers
January 21, 2019
Pleased to be finishing this one on MLK day and the day Harris announced her candidacy.

This was an interesting read, a little slow in the middle. The first and last chapters were my favorites, showcasing her origins and her exhortations for the future.

It gave me that little extra insight into a potential (when I started it) candidate that I was looking for.

The threshold question I’m holding for any candidate in the current cycle, beyond the basics of whether I find their values and track record acceptable, and what I think of their platform and agenda, is this: Can he or she go toe to toe with whoever, whatever, whenever, wherever, to get the job done?

If I can get behind what I think they stand for and accept their record of integrity and effectiveness, this will help set the candidates apart. Whatever gender, ethnicity, age or or other demographic, do they have the presence, personal power, displaying to the outside a depth of inner fortitude and grace, to do the job in deeply trying times and far from ideal or supportive circumstances.

Culturally, historically, it can be a tougher standard for some demographics than others to convincingly demonstrate publicly. I’m questioning it for everyone, of every demographic, whether minority or majority, in power suits or jeans, dresses or other cultural garb.

The traditional power signals our culture is used to responding to may be evolving or crumbling, but power signaling remains a reality in leadership. There were some interesting, sometimes unexpected, strong and weak signalers in the midterms. Who will signal clearly, with real strength, authentically and humanely, in this race?

This book didn’t rule out Harris for me in that regard, and made a good case for keeping her in mind as one to watch for having that particular right stuff.
Profile Image for Traci Thomas.
527 reviews9,509 followers
April 22, 2019
This genre often leaves a lot to be desired. I loved hear her talk about her life and the work she’s done but it lacks in vulnerability because it’s a companion piece for running for President not a tell all. It’s good for what it is and she’s a wonderful human. Hearing about her work as a prosecutor and her plans for the country was all good. But overall it’s nothing ground breaking or exciting.
Profile Image for Jean.
1,701 reviews736 followers
January 20, 2019
I have followed Kamala Harris’ career since she was the District Attorney of San Francisco. When she was Attorney General of California, I impressed with her prosecution of the banks during the mortgage crisis. She has done a good job as Senator representing California.

The book is well written. Harris reveals her early life and career. She also points out that she was tossed into the civil rights problems from the beginning because her mother is a Tamil Indian and her father is a black and both were active in the civil rights movement. Her mother immigrated from Madras, India and her father from Jamaica. Both her parents are highly educated: her mother as a breast cancer scientist and her father as an economics professor at Stanford University. The book follows the usual type of memoir of a new politician in that it is part personal memoir but mostly an outline of her beliefs, positions, and goals. Instead of being written in chronological order, the chapters follow various key topics. Harris is a young highly educated woman of color and fits the diversity requirements this country needs of its politicians to better represent the country. I plan on continuing to follow her career and her writings.

I read this as an audiobook downloaded from Audible. The book is nine hours and twenty-six minutes. Harris does a good job narrating the book.
Profile Image for Ross Blocher.
429 reviews1,358 followers
April 4, 2021
The Truths We Hold is a great opportunity to get to know Kamala Harris, which I was eager to do after she was chosen as Joe Biden's running mate. I'm glad I did. This gave me a lot of confidence in Harris's priorities and personal compass, and I'm a lot happier with the ticket knowing she's on it. The book was released in January 2019 in conjunction with her own bid for president, so it's interesting to hear some early echoes of the present. In the preface, she describes "a battle for the soul of our nation", straight out of Biden's campaign slogan. She highlights her collaboration with Beau Biden as fellow state attorneys general, both fighting to get a bigger decision against predatory lenders in the wake of the 2008 foreclosure crisis. She remembers Joe Biden swearing her in as a senator in 2017. There are sadder echoes as well, such as her recounting stories of Philando Castile (shot 7 times in the back in 2016 while his kids were in the car) and Eric Garner (pleading "I can't breathe" in 2014) that could be ripped straight from this year's headlines about Jacob Blake and George Floyd, making her case for policing reform all the more urgent.

This follows the format (if not particulars) you might expect from a political memoir. Harris is the daughter of immigrants raised by her cancer researcher mother in Berkeley to care about science and political action. She gets her education at Howard University, a historically Black college. Her path into politics leaps from deputy district attorney in Alameda to district attorney of San Francisco, to attorney general of California, and now California senator. We are also treated to her budding relationship with blind-date-and-awkward-texter-turned-husband Doug. There are a few illustrative setbacks offered (failing her first bar exam, running scrappy early campaigns as an unknown, fighting to balance all-consuming work and home life), but this is not the place to get Kamala's direct responses to critics about specific crime policies or dirt about her relationship with Willie Brown. She highlights career successes, such as the "Back on Track" program that expunged criminal records and reduced recidivism from 50% to 10%. Or her fight against truancy, which provided resources such as laundry services and dramatically increased school attendance. As attorney general she negotiated banks' initial settlement offer of $3 billion up to north of $20 billion. She took part in the fight to legalize gay marriage and got to perform one of the first ceremonies herself. In the Senate, she has argued on behalf of DACA recipients, victims of the opioid crisis, victims of police violence, and makes the case for taking climate change seriously a security threat.

As she addresses these and many other issues, Harris presents her positions with passion, knowledge, and a penchant for data- and science-driven policy. She has a deep understanding of America's promise and where it has fallen short with past persecutions, prejudices, suppressions, internments and supreme court decisions. Along the way, we get a sense of Harris as a person: her love of cooking, her relationship with her stepchildren (who call her "Mamala"), and her friendship with her sister Maya. She has warmth, good humor, and a desire to keep learning and growing. Kamala reads the audio version, which I highly recommend. Writing in early October 2020, I can't wait to see this new administration elected into office. They'll have their work cut out for them.
Profile Image for Eric Anderson.
653 reviews3,203 followers
January 19, 2021
I'm not someone naturally inclined to read memoirs by politicians, but the tumultuous “leadership” in America over the past four years has been so horrendous and upsetting to witness I wanted to do something more to celebrate and engage with the inauguration of President Biden and Vice President Harris rather than just following the news. Also, other than knowing the professional roles Kamala Harris has held as a senator from California and attorney general as well as the policies she spoke about in the vice presidential debates, I had little knowledge about her background or beliefs before reading her memoir “The Truths We Hold”. So it was wonderfully engaging to read in her own words how her convictions have been shaped by her experience of working on tough political battles concerning everything from crime to health care to same-sex marriage to climate change to immigration to education to the economy. This was not so much about ticking through a list of hot-topic issues but proving she intimately understands the numerous challenges facing the country. And what America sorely needs now is knowledge and experience to guide it!

One of the most heartening things about reading the accounts of her professional work is how Harris knows the day by day effect that political decisions have for countless people and the consequences of not taking action. She feels the urgency. She cites specific examples of cases she's been both instrumentally involved in and others she's engaged with as part of a much larger process. Additionally, she proudly writes about her personal background as the daughter of a biologist born in India and a professor of economics born in Jamaica. That a woman of mixed heritage has now reached one of the highest political positions in the country is so encouraging and important. We follow how she met and married her husband and became the mother to two step children as well as the emotional rollercoaster of her election campaigns. She explains why having Sunday dinner with her family is so important to her. She gives an intimate view of both the personal challenges she's faced and how setbacks have only fuelled her to work harder. It's inspiring to read how her values and sense of justice drive her to enact real progress.

There was a somewhat snippy review of this memoir which appeared in the Guardian when this book was first published in early 2019. True, this might not be the most artful work of literature ever created and might serve as an extended political campaign pamphlet. It's narrative is controlled in a way to be personable without tipping into anything too revealing or risque. But so what? This book is full of heart and sincerity. It gave me a close understanding of Harris' point of view and her convictions. I fully understand that in entering the vice presidency she might have to make compromises and that she won't entirely fix every problem in America. But something she asserts towards the end of the book is that “words have power.” As we know all too well from recent events, when a political leader speaks carelessly and purely out of self interest the integrity and security of the entire country is at risk. I believe this book is filled with pledges and promises Harris will do her best to realise, but even if this book is filled with nothing more than campaign promises – and I don't think that's all it is – she says the right things here. It fills me with teary-eyed optimism to know that these are the words which will lead the nation for the next four years alongside the new president.
Profile Image for Kris.
57 reviews13 followers
January 11, 2019
I am proud to call Kamala Harris my Senator. As a San Fransisco native I have watched her career and have now had the pleasure to vote for her a few times. It was nice to read about her family history, to read about where she came from and how she worked her way up to her current position. I also really enjoyed reading about things that I remember occurring in real life and seeing it from her perspective. I liked reading about how she fought for criminal justice reform, how she negotiated during the mortgage crisis, and how she fought for the laws and brought about change through her positions within government. I also enjoyed her perspective on the gay rights/gay marriage issue in SF. It was cool to read about it from her side. Such an amazing time in our city, state, and country. I obviously think Kamala is boss but I really did think the book was well written and a very informative view from the inside. I give it ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Profile Image for Cheryl.
962 reviews100 followers
February 16, 2021
Kamala Harris grew up in California, the daughter of immigrant parents. Her father came to the United States from Jamaica and her mother came from India. Her parents were active in the civil rights movement and passed on to her a concern for social justice.

In this book, Kamala writes about her early life, her education, her career as a young lawyer, deputy district attorney and then district attorney for San Francisco, Attorney General of California, and finally, life as a United States Senator. She writes movingly about the profound influence her mother exerted on Kamala’s life. She writes extensively about the issues she champions and the need to never give up working for the betterment of others.

It is no wonder that Joe Biden chose her to be his vice president. The issues Kamala writes about are the issues which concern many people. Her determination, experience, and never ending concern for the welfare of others will be an asset to the new administration.
Profile Image for Monica Kim | Musings of Monica .
506 reviews533 followers
February 28, 2019
Senator Kamala Harris is one of the politicians I admire & respect, and one of the three candidates I was hoping to run in 2020, which she has officially announced in January. The presidential candidacy pool is getting really crowded & it’s still very early on, and I’m certainly not set on anyone; but Senator Harris is a strong candidate with an impressive background & experience (and temperament, very important) and even early on as a Junior Senator from California, I saw something in her & knew she’d would be taking on a bigger role one day. When it was announced that she’d would have a memoir released in 2019, that was definitely one of the sure signs of possible run. So to tie her candidacy announcement to her memoir “The Truths We Hold: An American Journey,” this is a campaign book presented as a memoir. And it’s release was obviously timed with her candidacy announcement.
The book is a pretty standard campaign/memoir book. And let’s be honest, they rarely make a great literature. Senator chronicles her life from her childhood to career in politics. She does blend personal & political stories, personal stories being my favorite part of the books, but she never strays far from her candidacy voice. She shares earlier inspirations & motivations why she chose a life in politics, extensively about her career & achievements in her respective roles after law school — as a prosecutor out of law school, deputy district attorney, District Attorney for San Francisco, and then the chief law enforcement officer of the state of California as a whole, and her stand on various policies & issues. Ultimately, making a case why she should be the next president of the United States.
Senator Harris has a solid work background and was focused from early on of the direction of her career & life she wanted to live. Knowingly or unknowingly, she has definitely been working towards something bigger. She’s certainly been a trailblazer even from early on. There seems to be way too many politicians now days with questionable background & motivations, but Harris’ focus & motivation have been about the people from the start, and she also shares extensively about her hard-won fights for the people.
She also has a fascinating childhood & upbringing & is from a highly-educated, socially conscious & active, working-class immigrant family. I have so much respect for her mom who came to America from India to attend University, earned her ph.d & worked as a cancer researcher and has had a profound impact & influence on Harris. Her mom has passed away, but she would’ve been incredibly proud of her daughter; and no doubt, would’ve been an important confidante to her daughter as she was an activist in the civil rights movement.
If, Senator Harris becomes our next president, it would be as historical as president Obama’s presidency, not only as the first female president, but first of many other historical records. Overall, I enjoyed getting to know Senator Harris more, but it was a pretty standard campaign book blended with personal stories. But if one of her goals was to impressive readers and perhaps win over some, I think she got her job done. However, despite sharing of her personal stories that were some ways relatable & could be a huge winning & vital factor for many readers/voters, I couldn’t really connect with her, I don’t know why exactly. If you’re looking to learn more about candidates, highly recommend. I think this would may be a great book for young women interested career in politics or law.
Profile Image for L. McCoy.
Author 4 books2,969 followers
September 27, 2020

So this election is a tricky one for me. I don’t care for Trump and Pence very much, I don’t care for Biden and Harris very much, hell I thought of voting for libertarian candidate Jo Jorgensen but even she later did some stuff that pissed me off. I’ve been reading political nonfiction throughout 2020 and this one really helped me... I actually like Trump more after reading this stupid thing.

What’s it about?
Basically Kamala Harris talks about various experiences in her life and her career along with, of course, her political beliefs.

Why it gets 1-star:
The writing is terrible. It’s oddly similar to a lot of the particularly shitty YA novels I’ve sat through. Like, so much so that I actually wonder if this was really ghost-written by some bad YA writer I already gave a 1-star review to at some point.
Some of this book felt like extremely boring filler. So maybe I’m just a shallow asshole but I expected this book to be about her political beliefs and career... yet for most of the first hour of this book we hear about what it was like for her going to school as a kid and the kind of food her mom made. Later on there’s stuff about her dating experiences and a whole fucking section dedicated to how much she likes making Sunday dinner for her family...
The arguments in this book are fairly poor. So when reviewing a political nonfiction fairly I try to mentally argue the points made in it whether I agree with the statement or not. Nearly every argument in this book could be debated against very easily, even when playing devil’s advocate. Both the things I agreed with and the things I disagreed with were presented with arguments so poor that it frustrated me with it’s easy to debunk points, inaccuracies and even at times hypocrisy.
Kamala can sure beat the fuck out of a dead horse. Gosh, she definitely fits in politics with her ability to go on and on for a long time yet barely saying anything.
So there’s some fish stories in here (ya know, like the world famous monster fish that was “thiiiiis big” that could be real but is likely just bullshit). Fish stories is actually somewhat generous due to there being things from a variety of news sources (not just right-wing outlets) that could show that Harris at least twisted things to her narrative.
So a few times in this book Harris does some “fellow kids” kinda things. Can’t really say I’m surprised but yeah... She especially does it with superheroes (though fortunately nothing as bad as that Wakanda skit she did on Colbert (if you don’t know what I’m talking about you might be lucky)), even at the beginning she tells us that Trump winning was like when the superheroes look like they lost so “have to fight back with emotion because all the best superheroes have big emotions” (I’m guessing somebody didn’t like Captain Marvel). There’s a few other things but I especially noticed she tried getting the superhero fans impressed (though one humorous other example, she referred to some unknown artist as just “that rapper” and in a more recent event I heard about when she tried to be all cool with her “fellow kids” thing regarding rap, she literally couldn’t name anyone other than Tupac (who she also called “the greatest rapper alive”)... this actually makes me laugh especially since it was right after reading this).
There’s a few parts in this book where Harris feels the need to point out a pile of times that she’s black. So I don’t have a problem with her being black, racism sucks ass, but why constantly point it out when it has nothing to do with anything? This is my problem with “identity politics”, I don’t fucking care what your skin color, gender, sexuality, etc. are as long as you’re a good candidate. It’s like the political equivalent of a few of those white rappers who have to constantly point out that they’re white (except a few of them are sometimes worth listening to since being a rapper requires talent- that can’t be said for being a politician).
There’s some parts that just come across as very cheesy. Most notable examples are when talking about how her kids call her “mamala” (I actually facepalmed at this) or when she calls an emoji character of her the “Kamoji”. You’re not Batman, no need to name a bunch of stuff after yourself.
So most politicians try to hide authoritarian beliefs and desire to raise taxes, Harris doesn’t even try. She states several reasons (which are, as I stated before, poor arguments) the government should be involved in a bunch of things that they really shouldn’t be and her economy ideas would both hurt the general economy AND raise taxes (which she plainly states while justifying it). I get that most politicians on any side want an authoritarian state and more taxes but fuck, at least try to hide it.
Kamala Harris narrates this audiobook and it actually made me like her less as a candidate the way she did it. She talks to the reader in a condescending tone the whole time as if she’s trying to talk to a little kid, not somebody interested in politics and/or potential voters.

Earlier this year I read Crippled America by Donald Trump and gave it a 3-star review. I have now read this and I am giving it a 1-star review. This isn’t intentional as I try my best to review any book fairly with minimal bias but it does kinda describe how I feel this election. I’m not necessarily a fan of Trump, I have some problems with him but he’s mostly okay overall. The Biden/Harris ticket is one of the worst I’ve seen. After reading this I dislike the Biden/Harris ticket even more.
Some people are claiming that it will actually be Harris who becomes president, not Biden, and while I don’t know if this is the case I don’t think I can risk listening to 4 years of this shit. I could barely stand 8 or 9 hours of it. While (surprisingly and sadly) not as bad as some of the other books including some other political ones that I sat through this year it is pretty goddamn bad.
It’s pretty easy to tell a book like this kinda sucks when I walk away from it liking the opposing side more than I did prior to reading it. Good job, Kamala Harris, your book convinced me to definitely vote for Trump.

Profile Image for Connie G.
1,666 reviews440 followers
July 28, 2019
The unfolding of Kamala Harris' early life illustrates how she was shaped into a tough but compassionate person. Her parents were immigrants that came to the United States for educational opportunities and both graduated with PhDs. Her father was an economist from Jamaica, and her mother was a cancer researcher from India. She and her sister were raised in a working class African-American neighborhood in Oakland by their mother after their parents divorced. After Harris attended Howard University and UC Hastings College of Law, she became a prosecutor. She eventually became San Francisco's District Attorney, the Attorney General of California, and a United States Senator from California. Harris is married to Doug Emhoff, an entertainment attorney.

Harris was very proud of "Back on Track", a boot camp program she helped develop when she was San Francisco's DA. Non-violent first-time offenders could receive job-training, GED courses, perform community service, and receive drug counseling. After successful completion of the program, their records were erased. 90% of the participates did not commit more crimes. Harris was also disturbed by the bail system that keeps the poor in jail for months awaiting trial. She thinks that danger to society and flight risk should determine who is detained in jail awaiting trial, not the size of a person's bank account. She also noted that minorities were charged much more often with drug possession than whites, and received longer sentences for the same crime. As Attorney General, she put lots of time and effort into fighting the banks to get much more relief for California homeowners after the mortgage crisis of 2008.

Harris was appointed to four Senate committees: Intelligence, Homeland Security, Budget, and Environment and Public Works. She feels that more attention should be given to cybersecurity. Everything from voting machines to electric grids is potentially vulnerable. Climate change and rejoining the Paris Accord are also important to Harris. She's concerned about the shortage of care for people with mental health problems, including addiction. More money should be allocated to the opioid crisis. She feels the country should consider Medicare for all. As a Senator she has drawn attention to the children who were separated from their parents at the Mexican border. She also thinks legislation is needed to help the Dreamers.

There are more ideas and interesting anecdotes from her life's journey in the book. Warm stories about her mother, her neighborhood, and especially Emhoff and his children break up the discussions about policy. Kamala Harris came across as a woman who cares about people and justice, and who will call attention to the oppressed in this country. She did not address many international problems in the book other than immigration and cybersecurity, which is probably the smart thing to do since the international situation is always in flux. This interesting book will draw people's attention to her as one of the candidates to watch in a large field of Presidential contenders.
Profile Image for Mehrsa.
2,234 reviews3,659 followers
February 1, 2019
As far as ghost-written political memoirs go, this is not the best I've read, but it's also not annoying. I wanted to know more about Kamala Harris and now I know more. My biggest takeaway is that she's not a big institutional thinker. She sees things like a prosecutor. For example, in dealing with the banking crisis, she wanted to charge the banks with wrong-doing and she settled with them due to frauds and deceptions. Same with her takes on other laws--who did something wrong and how can they be punished? Her moral compass seems right on these things, but I didn't see her really step back and look at the flaws in the system. Why did the crisis happen? She clearly understands the complexities of crime and criminal justice, but I don't share her perspective that it's about putting bad guys in prison. Look, I'll vote for whoever the Democrat is in 2020, but I guess Harris is not my top choice at this moment
Profile Image for Beth.
616 reviews24 followers
January 11, 2019
Believing that Ms. Harris will be announcing her run for President, I wanted to learn more about her. I always try to go to the source whenever possible, so I figured this would be a great place to start. The book is interesting, and my overwhelming thought upon finishing it? If anyone wants to know what her platform would be, it's here. Some things are highlighted more than others, but it's all here - her priorities, why, some of the things she has done, etc. So for anyone wanting more information on this woman that showed up out of the blue (for anyone not in Cali) and who has been making waves with her questioning - start here and branch out. It will give you more to think about for sure.
Profile Image for Mike.
298 reviews135 followers
Want to read
October 8, 2020

Update: Mike's Campaign Journal, 10/07/20, 9:22 P.M. EST

I wake from an unplanned nap, and go downstairs to the kitchen. My dad, who has been watching the Harris-Pence debate in the living room, comes in for something to drink.

"She's blowing it, Mike", he tells me.

My dad doesn't follow politics religiously; but he seems surprised that Harris has a tendency, when she's asked a question about policy, to respond with a sentimental story about childhood or some pseudo-inspirational cliche that seems ready-made for a t-shirt.

Me: "You haven't listened to Kamala Harris speak very often, have you?"


Update: Mike's Campaign Journal, 12/07/19: Good riddance.


Mike's Dream Journal, January, 2019: I had a frightening dream this past week. It was the year 2020. The Democrats had put up a very, very old but somehow still alive Richard Nixon against Trump, and I was so disgusted that I decided not to vote. Come election night, which was rainy and foreboding, it turned out that some other candidate, whose name I didn't even know, had won the election (maybe he'd somehow taken the Democratic nomination from Nixon at the last moment?)- but I couldn't find any information about the man. I flipped from channel to channel, but all I could find were inanities or commentators celebrating the fact that Trump had lost- they were truly happy about that, I supposed I was too...but who was the new president???! His surname sounded vaguely Romanian (Kurucs, I think?), and there was talk of a scandal involving "a dead man's bed." Then I woke up. It's hard to describe the relief I felt as I came to my senses; the Democrats hadn't nominated Dracula, nor a calculating, scandal-prone fraud whose true essence was unknowable.

Oh well. Just a dream.
Profile Image for Cheri.
1,712 reviews2,240 followers
September 7, 2020
4.5 Stars

’We need to speak truth: that, with the exception of Native Americans, we all descend from people who weren’t born on our shores—whether our ancestors came to America willingly, with hopes of a prosperous future, or forcibly, on a slave ship, or desperately, to escape a harrowing past.’

So much about the recent years that has proved so disturbing is summed up in the above, the very foundation of this country, those of us in the USA, is based on the fact that the vast majority of people living here are either immigrants, or descendants of immigrants. And yet, the hostility against those seeking to come here has risen rather drastically of late. The children, still living in what amounts to a prison, who came with families, with parents, seeking asylum, seeking a life without fear are not welcomed, let alone welcome. Have we all forgotten the words written by Emma Lazarus:

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

Where are the welcoming arms to those seeking refuge these days?

’Just the facts, ma’am.’ The quote, erroneously attributed, to Dragnet’s Sergeant Joe Friday, fits the style of this memoir-autobiography. But then again, it fits her personality, which is occasionally light and open, pleasant, but also no-nonsense, no BS, as well, when needed. Personally, I like that about her. I enjoyed reading her story of her journey from childhood to being Biden’s choice for his Vice-Presidential candidate. I appreciated her thoughts on learning some basic ‘rules of life’ at her local church growing up: ’speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves’ and to ‘defend the rights of the poor and needy.’

’This is where I learned that faith is a verb; I believe we must live our faith and show faith in action.’

Unlike some others who continually claim to be Christian, who pose with bibles, but apparently have forgotten the words, principles contained in them – if they’ve ever read them to begin with, there is an essence of Harris that comes through, she is dedicated to the belief that all people are, in fact, created equal, that kindness builds people up and in turn they are better people for others, that all people have value, and what people choose to do with their life will prove who they are at the end of the day. She has chosen to fight for a system that is fair for all.

‘Years from now, our children and grandchildren will look up and lock eyes with us. They will ask us where we were when the stakes were so high. They will ask us what it was like. I don’t want us to just tell them how we felt. I want us to tell them what we did.’

Many thanks, once again, to the Public Library system, and the many Librarians that manage, organize and keep it running, for the loan of this book.
Profile Image for Nikki.
1,728 reviews66 followers
February 4, 2019
I really like Kamala Harris and follow politics rather closely, which as it turns out is a bad thing for this book. Harris notes at the beginning that it is not a political platform book but...it totally is. I was really hoping it was going to genuinely be more about her life growing up and her relationships etc., but that was a really minor aspect of it. Most of the book is in fact her political platform and since I know that and the issues she discusses, I was mostly bored. I probably should have been prepared since I knew she was going to run for president, but I was still disappointed that it wasn't more personal. I think someone who doesn't know much about Harris or who doesn't follow the issues much, would likely enjoy this more. Unfortunately, I walked away with little new information and was mostly bored.
Profile Image for Rachel Reads Ravenously.
1,804 reviews2,158 followers
August 22, 2020
4 stars

This is a book that had been on my tbr a while, and when Kamala Harris was picked to be Biden’s VP I bumped it up. I’m glad I listened because I feel I learned a lot about her, but this also felt very much like a campaign book. Normally when I listen to political based biographies or books, there’s an overall point to be made. This book didn’t really have one except to highlight Harris’ many accomplishments (which are indeed, incredible).

Regardless, I am glad I listened because I learned a lot and I agree with Harris on many key issues and I believe that no matter the outcome of the 2020 election, she will continue to fight tooth and nail for what she believes is right.
Profile Image for Erin .
1,214 reviews1,123 followers
January 8, 2021
On January 20th Kamala Harris will make history when she is sworn in as the first

1) Woman Vice President
2)Black Vice President
3)Indian Vice President

And I'm sure there are more ways in which Kamala is historic but I'll just leave it at those 3.

During the primaries I didnt support Kamala Harris, given her history of being pro- police I just didnt trust her, plus I'm #YangGang4Lyfe. And she wasn't my first choice to be Joe Biden's VP, Stacey Abrams or Tammy Duckworth would be my picks. But once Kamala was picked I was perfectly ok with her. I think we can rely on Kamala to keep Biden from caving to the moderates.

Kamala Harris has lived "The American Dream" her parents were immigrants, her dad's Jamaican and her mother's from India. She didnt grow up with a lot of money but she worked hard and she eventually became California Attorney General before going on to become a U.S. Senator and now Vice President. Kamala makes plans and then sets about making those things happen.

I'm cautiously optimistic about the Biden administration, with full Democratic control I'm hopeful that we can undo the awful things that have been done over the last 4 years. But I do worry about Kamala's safety. We all saw how law enforcement treated Trump's terrorists on January 6. They very plainly allowed those terrorists to invade the Congress. I'm concerned that law enforcement won't protect Kamala and other members of the Biden administration because they are Trumpsters. I hope I'm wrong but I don't think I am.

Kamala Harris has made alot of history and she'll probably make more history one day. It wouldn't surprise me if she became the first female President. I think if she wants it, its hers for the taking.

A Must Read!
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