Laughing at Myself
My Education in Congress, on the Farm, and at the Movies
Sales Date: June 8, 2021
244 Pages, 6.00 x 9.00 in
- Published: June 2021
- Published: June 2021
Where else but in America could a Jewish kid from Kansas, son of self-made, entrepreneurial parents and a grandson of Russian and Eastern European immigrants, end up as a congressman, secretary of agriculture, and chief lobbyist for Hollywood?
In Laughing at Myself: My Education in Congress, on the Farm, and at the Movies Dan Glickman tells his story of a classical family background, religious heritage, and “Midwestern-nice” roots, and how it led to a long and successful career in public service. Dan combines a steady sense of humor with serious reflection on his rise from the middle of nowhere to becoming a successful US politician and the first Jewish secretary of agriculture since Joseph served pharaoh in biblical times. Dan defines success as a willingness to listen, an ability to communicate ideas, and a yen for compromise. Dan has successfully navigated the worlds of congressional politics, cabinet-level administration, and the entertainment industry and offers readers the many tricks of the trade he has learned over the years, which will inform the understanding of citizens and help aspiring politicians seeking alternatives to the current crisis of partisanship.
Dan is convinced that the toxicity seen in our current political culture and public discourse can be mitigated by the principles that have guided his life—a strong sense of humor (specifically an ability to laugh at himself), respect and civility for those who have different points of view, a belief system founded on values based on the Golden Rule, and a steadfast commitment to solve problems rather than create irreconcilable conflicts. While these values form the backbone of Dan Glickman’s personal life and professional career, the real key to his success has been resiliency—learning from adversity and creating opportunities where none may have originally existed. Even though you never know what’s around the corner, in Laughing at Myself Dan offers a bold affirmation that America is still a nation built on opportunity and optimism. Laughing at Myself affirms readers in their desire to move beyond just surviving to living life with purpose, passion, and optimism.
“Our nation these days desperately needs more leaders like Dan Glickman: people whose values are deeply rooted and have a sense of humor about themselves. This book explores the secrets to his success and should serve as an inspiration to those who want to be as respected and beloved as he has been.”—Walter S. Isaacson, author of Steve Jobs and Leonardo da Vinci
“It’s been Dan’s wit and wisdom that has taken him from Wichita to Washington. But it’s also been his decency, his ability to work across political spectrums, and his awareness and ability to understand the power of humor to often diffuse, distract, and always delight that has truly defined his success.”—James Carville, Democratic political strategist
“The skeletal components of an exceptional leader and public servant are a wishbone, a backbone, and a funny bone. Those of us fortunate to know and work with Dan Glickman admire him greatly because he has all three. This book is clear confirmation of that and is a great read.”—Tom Daschle, former US senator
“Dan Glickman’s memoir reveals the essence of who he is: self-deprecating, passionate, optimistic, purpose-driven, principled, and living proof that you can accomplish a great deal of good in the world as a political centrist who values listening over talking. His personal journey and the lessons he learned along the way in Kansas; Washington, DC; and Hollywood make for an entertaining, at times surprising, and always fascinating read—and will hopefully inspire and challenge a new generation of would-be changemakers to revive the art of ‘constructive partisanship’ and compromise.”—Howard G. Buffett, farmer and philanthropist, chairman and CEO of the Howard G. Buffett Foundation
“In my Washington career, I was often asked why I enjoyed a strong sense of humor. My response was that the alternative was ‘jumping in the Potomac.’ My friend Dan Glickman in Laughing at Myself makes the same point, particularly in these crazy times. I have known Dan for over forty years—he was my classmate in Congress, we worked together in the Clinton administration, and as the children of immigrants we share the same values and beliefs. He is a good man and this book tells you why.”—Leon Panetta, former secretary of defense and cofounder of the Panetta Institute for Public Policy
“Secretary Dan Glickman has long brought good humor, common sense, happiness, and a strong expression of his Jewish identity to Capitol Hill, the administration, Hollywood, and now to all of us through his new book. Hailing from a tiny Jewish community in Wichita, Kansas, he conquered Washington and Hollywood. And now he will also capture your heart and help you laugh and smile. In these trying times, we all need more good memories, smiles, and laughs. There is nobody better to help us with that than Dan Glickman. King Solomon taught in the Jewish scriptures that ‘a constant joyous heart’ is a good thing. Dan has that, and he shares it with us here. Everyone always leaves meeting him happier than they were before. Picking up this book and finding out why is easy; putting it down will be much more difficult.”—Rabbi Levi Shemtov, executive vice president, American Friends of Lubavitch, and founder and president, Capitol Jewish Forum
“Laughing at Myself is a drama and comedy with laugh-out-loud moments. With his gifts of creativity, energy, and humor, Dan Glickman gives unique examples of successfully finding solutions for intractable problems like fighting hunger and malnutrition at home and around the world. Dan’s humor and storytelling skills helped us cope with these dire issues, just as they keep the reader immersed in this book. He does not shy away from sensitive issues, and he puts a high value on character, principle, moderation, and listening to others—even naked demonstrators disrupting his press conference in Rome.”—Catherine Bertini, former executive director, UN World Food Program, and distinguished fellow, Chicago Council on Global Affairs
“Dan Glickman is the definition of a dedicated public servant who puts country and service ahead of personal benefit. This book is a great chronicle of his life and experiences and gives us insight into the values he brought to each of his opportunities—from the excitement of his first victory for Congress to his work in the Clinton cabinet to the coveted position as the head of the Motion Picture Association. He celebrates his immigrant heritage and the strong religious beliefs that were passed on from his grandparents and parents. Typical of Dan, he shares his journey by poking fun at himself and reminding us of how humor and humility go a long way toward getting us through even the most challenging moments. Most of all, Dan reminds us of the importance of decency and the compromise that is needed to support a working democracy. There could not be a more timely reminder of how important compromise and flexibility are to addressing the challenges we face as a country, and his lifelong belief in the importance of reaching across the aisle to get things done. The book should be a must-read for our next generation to remind them that it is possible to get things done if we respect the process of give and take and build relationships based upon respect and good will.”—Margery Kraus, founder and executive chairman, APCO Worldwide
“I have known Dan and his family for many years, and this book reflects the humor, dedication, and commonsense that Dan has brought to his years of public service. Dan had the ability to make one smile or laugh. That may be a good guide in how to get things accomplished in these turbulent political times.”—Nancy Kassebaum Baker, former United States Senator, Kansas
1. What a Country!
2. The Most Powerful Man on Earth
3. Growing Up Glickman in Wichita, Kansas
4. A Cafeteria Jew on the Prairie
5. Finding Myself in the Midst of Turbulence
6. Right Place at the Right Time
7. Crossing Party Lines to Sing My Way to Congress
8. How I Fertilized the Agriculture Committee
9. Building Bridges, Breaking Barriers, and Finding Laughs in the House of Reps
10. Rubbergate, Partisan Wars, and My last Term in Congress
11. Naïve Dan
12. “Hey Big Spender” Becomes Mr. Secretary of Food
13. From DC to Harvard to Hollywood and Back: Life After Public Service
14. Lessons from a Self-Deprecating Moderate
Epilogue: Life in the Age of COVID-19