Review: United: Thoughts on Finding Common Ground and Advancing the Common Good by Cory Booker

 Purchase on  Amazon  |  Barnes and Noble

Purchase on Amazon | Barnes and Noble

About the Book

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • A passionate new voice in American politics, United States Senator Cory Booker makes the case that the virtues of empathy, responsibility, and action must guide our nation toward a brighter future.
 
Raised in northern New Jersey, Cory Booker went to Stanford University on a football scholarship, accepted a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford University, then studied at Yale Law School. Graduating from Yale, his options were limitless.
 
He chose public service.
 
He chose to move to a rough neighborhood in Newark, New Jersey, where he worked as a tenants’ rights lawyer before winning a seat on the City Council. In 2006, he was elected mayor, and for more than seven years he was the public face of an American city that had gone decades with too little positive national attention and investment. In 2013, Booker became the first African American elected to represent New Jersey in the U.S. Senate.
 
In United, Cory Booker draws on personal experience to issue a stirring call to reorient our nation and our politics around the principles of compassion and solidarity. He speaks of rising above despair to engage with hope, pursuing our shared mission, and embracing our common destiny.
 
Here is his account of his own political education, the moments—some entertaining, some heartbreaking, all of them enlightening—that have shaped his civic vision. Here are the lessons Booker learned from the remarkable people who inspired him to serve, men and women whose example fueled his desire to create opportunities for others. Here also are his observations on the issues he cares about most deeply, from race and crime and the crisis of mass incarceration to economic and environmental justice.
 
“Hope is the active conviction that despair will never have the last word,” Booker writes in this galvanizing book. In a world where we too easily lose touch with our neighbors, he argues, we must remember that we all rise or fall together—and that we must move beyond mere tolerance for one another toward a deeper connection: love.

Review

When Senator Booker first mentioned that he was coming out with his book, I was really excited for him. I was elated, anticipating what the book would be about. Now, I rarely indulge in books that feature politicians or celebrities due to the nature of their positions. In many circumstances, the blurred line of separating the real individual versus the publicity driven marketed package tends to shift my perspective by not allowing me to grasp their authentic voice. With that said, I can wholeheartedly say with appreciation and gratitude that the narrative that graced the pages was the authentic voice of a person many of us have grown to admire.

So, I’ve had the book for a while. Not sure why I didn’t jump on it when I got it. Like with many books that have crossed my desk, this one in particular that I had been patiently waiting for, just wasn’t the right time to pick it up. Around this time ironically, it was about this time couple years ago when I first met the Senator, then Mayor of Newark. I didn’t know much about him other than what I read and observed but I knew there was something that resonated with me about his passion for public service and his ambition for elevating the quality of life for his constituents. As I read United and reflect, I’m grateful for the opportunity to had been invited to spend the day with him and his staff, most importantly the time spent helping his initial campaign into the Senate. At the conclusion of United, I thought about this day and feel very privileged. In these times of politicians who make empty promises and don’t have a follow thru, I’m glad that I put my trust and faith in him and after reading his book, I’m looking forward to seeing where his path continues.

There has been criticism about United being a bit fluffy. Who cares. At the end of the day, whether his title is Senator Booker or just plain Cory Booker, this was probably one of the more well thought out, honest narratives that I have read from a public figure in a long time. I’m assuming people were expecting something more scandalous but I’m glad that he chose the path he did because it he really showed readers that no one is perfect and we all are flawed. With such an eloquent introduction and epilogue, his intelligent homage to others through his vulnerable humility to embrace the ideology that others paved the road before that cultivated the soil that has allowed him to grow. The maturity of a person who is not superhuman as newspaper titles like to proclaim, but just a regular guy through his journey has learned how to be better by understanding that it is the wisdom of the past that has laid the foundation for his continued progression and the privileges that he has built upon emotionally, physically, intellectually and spiritually.

As you read United, he blends his personal commentary and journey, his evolution in politics, familial history and shares personal accounts with memorable, inspirational folks that inspire and make you appreciate the life you have. I went into the book with an open mind and without prejudiced to find many moments that moved me to tears of joy, sadness and most importantly inspired ascension in my own social consciousness. He brought to life in the book many of the social challenges that we as a nation face supported by data and information, we are able to grasp from a statistical perspective the realities of the challenges we face in our individual communities. 

His thought provoking commentary really dives into many challenges experienced especially in urban areas that invoke social awareness because like for many cities around the country, the narrative in the same. Since the narrative has produced the same outcome, it’s time to turn the page and start a new narrative by doing something more and be accountable for each other and the greatest life we can give each other. 

I fell in love with a quote that was said in the book that is so fitting for this, he said, “If you want to go fast, go alone, but if you want to go far, go together.” If we want to make things better, we need to unite as people, despite our differences. This book was not just his journey but our journey together being United because when something happens in your community, it isn’t just their problem, it is yours as well. 

Whether you are supporter of Senator Booker or not, I’d recommend taking the time to read his book. It really opened my mind open to gaining a different perspective, especially from a legislator perspective, that has inspired further dialogue for conversation in our evolution of progress. For me personally, it has inspired a shift in my own perceptions that have pushed myself to want to do more with helping those around me who want a second chance who don’t get one. His book hopefully will leave you inspired, aspired for better and hope that together we can elevate the social consciousness to be more accountable and to want to do more united, so we can be the best we can be.