Thomas Geoghegan’s second book, The Secret Life of Citizens – Pursuing the Promise of American Life, was published in 1998. It is still as timely as the headlines in the Times. It is also impressive, and continues his deep and steady look into the country we live in today. Not the Tea Party’s look at a repressive America that provides the particular freedoms they want, while holding the rest of us down. Or the standard politician’s look at how glorious America is. Just a look at how America works or (mostly) is not working for almost all of us.
And yet it reads like a novel, gripping, pulling us in. The story of Harold Washington’s time as Mayor of Chicago is called a war by some, is remembered by Geoghegan as the time when ‘…never, never was the city more fun to live in.’ That’s someone who loves politics.
He is a liberal to his core, as are many of us, and looks at Congress and other political realms with a clear and particular prism. And yet this is not a political book. It just looks at what is there – noting for instance that the Senate overrepresents small states, deserts, Republicans, babies. So that the things we all really care about – energy, being heard, making the middle class big again, taking care of our natural resources and the planet, supporting each other – never are discussed.
This could be a book of despair, and yet optimist Geoghegan covers it all with humor, fun, all the little bits and pieces that we haven’t noticed that do make life possible and positive. His is a very distinct voice. You will see the world differently when you’re finished with this book. And you’ll be working toward a better outcome for us all.