Today’s book is that most challenging type of book: it’s a political memoir. I’ve read a few of these, and am always troubled by them. I have yet to read one where the author admits that most of what they did was bad, wrong, ineffectual, or pointless. Maybe I haven’t read enough, but there’s always an aspect of self-defense in the political memoir. At the very least, they are a “my side of the story” book.
With that in mind, I was skeptical of True Faith and Allegiance by Alberto R. Gonzales, former Attorney General of the United States. Gonzales was the Attorney General for a little over two years during President Bush’s second term. During that time, the United States found ourselves deeper and deeper in the mud of fighting terrorists according to their rules. It was a time of soul-searching and head-scratching. How do we deal with this?
Meanwhile, the political atmosphere of the nation became more and more toxic. Into that, Alberto Gonzales comes as the chief legal mind for the Executive Branch of the United States government. It was not a job that any one could have done.
True Faith and Allegiance deals with Gonzales’ background. He tells his story of how he came to be the Attorney General, and how he was inside the decision process of the Bush White House. He even spells out why he left—and the reasons are not all that were claimed as it happened.
Knowing that this is his side of the story and that there are other views—including lingering questions about the line between “torture” and “enhanced interrogation techniques,” among others—take this for what it’s worth. It is the story of how a kid from a poor Hispanic family grew up to be the top lawyer in America. About the hard work necessary. And about how a man can be put in impossible situations, where the best bad choice is still awful.
It’s worth reading to get another first person view of the inner workings of the first phase of the War on Terror. It’s worth reading to see how Gonzales got there in the first place.
Just remember, it’s still a political memoir. It’s how he’d like to be remembered more than anything else.
Book received from Booklook in exchange for the review.