Synopses & Reviews
Cooking with Grease
is a powerful, behind-the-scenes memoir of the life and times of a tenacious political organizer and the first African-American woman to head a major presidential campaign.
Donna Brazile fought her first political fight at age nine -- campaigning (successfully) for a city council candidate who promised a playground in her neighborhood. The day after Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, she committed her heart and her future to political and social activism. By the 2000 presidential election, Brazile had become a major player in American political history -- and she remains one of the most outspoken and forceful political activists of our day.
Donna grew up one of nine children in a working-poor family in New Orleans, a place where talking politics comes as naturally as stirring a pot of seafood gumbo -- and where the two often go hand in hand. Growing up, Donna learned how to cook from watching her mother, Jean, stir the pots in their family kitchen. She inherited her love of reading and politics from her grandmother Frances. Her brothers Teddy Man and Chet worked as foot soldiers in her early business schemes and voter registration efforts.
Cooking with Grease follows Donna's rise to greater and greater political and personal accomplishments: lobbying for student financial aide, organizing demonstrations to make Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday a national holiday and working on the Jesse Jackson, Dick Gephardt, Michael Dukakis and Bill Clinton presidential campaigns. But each new career success came with its own kind of heartache, especially in her greatest challenge: leading Al Gore's 2000 campaign, making her the first African American to lead a major presidential campaign.
Cooking with Grease is an intimate account of Donna's thirty years in politics. Her stories of the leaders and activists who have helped shape America's future are both inspiring and memorable. Donna's witty style and innovative political strategies have garnered her the respect and admiration of colleagues and adversaries alike -- she is as comfortable trading quips with J. C. Watts as she is with her Democratic colleagues. Her story is as warm and nourishing as a bowl of Brazile family gumbo.
"Brazile's lifelong love affair with politics culminated in September 1999, when she became Al Gore's presidential campaign manager. She was also the first African-American woman to head a mainstream national presidential campaign. Both achievements are the subject of this lively, sometimes moving memoir. After joining the Dukakis campaign at age 21, through wise strategy choices and sheer ability, Brazile carved out a place at the table with the primarily male, white, middle-aged political elite. Her colorful observations about the high-profile politicians she met (black and white) are often entertaining, although she tries not to slam the door on potential future campaign positions. Bill Clinton 'had the mind of six men...'; Rev. Jesse Jackson 'was brilliant in terms of politics and he was a master of manipulation when it came to the media.' Yet for all the insider look at the Gore campaign, the book's strength is Brazile herself, a self-described 'abrasive Black woman.' And while some may find self-serving her penchant for distancing herself from the Gore campaign's mistakes, readers will respond positively to the loving description of her Louisiana roots, her remarkable sense of purpose and her fierce loyalty to friends and family. Being a black woman informs all of Brazile's experiences, and readers get an invaluable glimpse of what it is like to be who she was, where she was, during one of America's most tumultuous political moments. Agent, Robert Barnett. (June 4)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"[F]rank and fascinating....Readers will love this sparkling and passionate political memoir." Booklist (Starred Review)
Table of Contents
One: Jean's Kitchen: Finding the Right Pot
Two: Blackened Catfish
Three: Red Beans and Rice
Four: Crawfish Étouffée
Five: Garlic Grits
Seven: The Melting Pot
Eight: Smothered Chicken
Nine: Brown Gravy (Roux)
Ten: Crabmeat Lafitte
Eleven: Stuffed Po' Boys
Twelve: Creole Shrimp Bisque
Thirteen: Bell Peppers
Fourteen: Dirty Rice
Fifteen: Cochon de Lait (Roast Suckling Pig)
Sixteen: Oysters Bienville
Seventeen: Café Du Monde: Coffee and Beignets
Epilogue: Electoral Gumbo -- A New Recipe for Victory
Jean's Seafood Gumbo