Synopses & Reviews
In 1992, Carol Moseley Braun became the first, and to this day only, African-American woman elected to the US Senate. Long before this historic victory, which Barack Obama would later say pioneered his own path to the Senate and presidency, Chicago journalist Jeannie Morris saw an incredible opportunity. Here was a bold and politically courageous candidate, a feminist and sensible progressive with whom Morris quickly identified on a personal level. Morris joined the campaign to write the official story of a brilliant retail politician with a charismatic smilebut what happened next was well beyond what Morris could have imagined.
Behind the Smile is the riveting campaign-trail memoir of a journalist coming to grips with the shortcomings of an ascendant politiciana groundbreaking yet flawed woman whose clandestine relationship would become her undoing. It is a personal journey of a reporter reconciling her own belief in an inspiring talent with a responsibility to deliver the facts. Morriss unabashed reporting and powerful candor bring the social and political impact of the Moseley Braun storyfrom the meteoric rise to the tragic downfallinto clear focus.
Moseley Braun's candidacy was a breath of fresh air for many; she displayed an unequivocal commitment to progressive issues in a political atmosphere still reeling from the tumultuous confirmation hearings of Justice Clarence Thomas. But amid the campaigns tension and excitement, there was an unfolding romantic drama that would, despite attempts to keep it hidden, become well publicized and much maligned. The complicated and ill-advised relationship between Moseley Braun and her manipulative, widely distrusted campaign manager threatened to derail everything. Though Moseley Braun ultimately won the Illinois Senate seat, her entanglement with this man and the political blunders that followed would cost her the next election and come to define her career.
Unreleased until now, Behind the Smile recounts Morriss two years living within the Moseley Braun campaign. Comprised of copious journal entries, interviews with key staff, as well as nearly unrestricted access to Moseley Braun herself, this book is not just a political history but the story of the game as it was being played. Updated to include recent follow-ups with many of the key players, Behind the Smile is an emotionally compelling narrative and richly detailed account of Moseley Brauns internal battles, viewed through the intimate revelations of a young reporter immersed in the sordid political process. Further still, it is a record of a hugely significant time in womens history, African-American history, and United States history; a story where issues of race and gender both complicate and glorify the narrative. Twenty years later, Morriss behind-the-scenes memoir of one womans untold story is finally coming to light.
"Braun, who became the first female African-American U.S. senator in 1992 (and the only female African-American U.S. senator to date), allowed Chicago-area sports journalist Morris (Brian Piccolo: A Short Season) close access to her campaign that year. This sympathetic but critical book recalls the inspiring effect of Braun's story. When she started her run for the Senate, she was an obscure Illinois county clerk, but she became a star at the Democratic National Convention. Morris pays equal attention, however, to the scandals that marred Braun's political career. Her 30-point lead fell precipitously in the campaign's last few months after she was accused of Medicaid fraud for 'laundering' money her mother earned while in a nursing home. Just two weeks before the election, female staffers accused Braun's campaign manager with whom she was romantically involved of sexual harassment, but the story did not go public until after the election, which Braun won by 10 points. Her reputation was further tarnished by charges that her campaign had misplaced campaign funds. Morris briefly covers Braun's subsequent political career: she lost a 1998 re-election bid to a no-name Republican, ran briefly in the 2004 Democratic presidential primary, and then ran for mayor of Chicago in 2011. This is a gripping, fast-paced story, but since it comes more than 20 years after the events it describes, it will primarily be of interest to political junkies." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"In a story that could not be told until now, award-winning journalist Jeannie Morris unravels a lingering mystery: How could the rising star of Carol Moseley Braun, first and only black woman in the US Senate, flame out so tragically in a scandal-prone tangle of love and politics? With an insiders eye, Behind the Smile
revives the drama of Brauns historic win, the tragedy of her fall, and the hazards of mixing love with politics." —Clarence Page, Pulitzer Prizewinning Chicago Tribune columnist
"This sympathetic but critical book recalls the inspiring effect of Brauns story. . . . [A] gripping, fast-paced story." —Publishers Weekly
"An inside view by an award-winning journalist with unique access on how Carol Mosley Braun became a political phenomenon." —Christie Hefner, political activist
"A close-up look at the senatorial campaign of a trailblazing black female politician." —Kirkus Reviews
About the Author
began her career as a writer, first with a column in the Chicagos American
that appeared on the Womens page called Football is a Womans Game," then as a sports reporter for the Chicago Daily News
. She was one of the first women in the nation to write sports for a major metropolitan daily.
While continuing her column, Jeannie began creating weekly sports features for Chicago's NBC affiliate, WMAQ-TV. Along with her husband, Johnny, Jeannie moved over to Chicago's CBS affiliate WBBM-TV in 1975. During her almost three decades as a Chicago sports reporter, Jeannie was honored 11 times with Emmys, and collected numerous AP and UPI awards for Best Sports/News Story” in Illinois while winning the national UPI award in 1980 for best sports reporting in the country for her investigative series exposing horse drugging at the racetrack. In 1987 she won the National Association of Black Journalists award for her program "Air Jordan." Jeannie also earned Emmys for spot news and childrens programming, the latter for an adaptation of her book, Adventures in the Blue Beast, the story of her familys one-year camping trip in Europe and the then Soviet Union.
Her bestselling book, Brian Piccolo: A Short Season, the biography of the 26-year old Chicago Bear who died of cancer in 1970, has been in print for more than 25 years. It is often remembered for the movie that followed, "Brians Song."
Since leaving local television in 1990, in addition to continuing her writing, Jeannie has produced several programs for PBS, most notably the series "Adventure Divas," created with daughter Holly Morris. In 2014 she became the first woman to receive the Ring Lardner Award for excellence in sports journalism.
Jeannie has four children and seven grandchildren. She splits her time between Chicago, Seattle, and Sundance, Utah.