Shooting from the Lip
The Life of Senator Al Simpson
Published by: University of Oklahoma Press
Imprint: University of Oklahoma Press
476 Pages | 6 x 9 | 20 b&w illus.
Shortly before Wyoming’s Alan K. Simpson was elected majority whip of the United States Senate, he decided to keep a journal. “I am going to make notes when I get home in the evening, as to what happened during each day.” Now the senator’s longtime chief of staff, Donald Loren Hardy, has drawn extensively on Simpson’s personal papers and nineteen-volume diary to write this unvarnished account of a storied life and political career.
Simpson gave full authorial control to Hardy, telling him, “Don, just tell the truth, the whole truth, as you always have. Leave teeth, hair, and eyeballs on the floor, if that results from telling the truth.” Taking Simpson at his word, Hardy shows readers a thrill-seeking teenager in Cody and a tireless politician who has thoroughly enjoyed his work. Full of entertaining tales and moments of historical significance, Shooting from the Lip offers a privileged and revealing backstage view of late-twentieth century American politics.
Hardy’s richly anecdotal account reveals the roles Simpson played during such critical events as the Iran-Contra scandal and Clarence Thomas’s confirmation hearings. It divulges the senator’s candid views of seven American presidents and scores of other national and world luminaries. Simpson is a politician unfettered by partisanship. Among President George H. W. Bush’s closest compatriots, he was also a close friend and admirer of Senator Ted Kennedy and was never afraid to publicly challenge the positions or tactics of fellow lawmakers, Democratic and Republican alike.
Simpson’s ability to use truth and humor as both “sword and shield,” combined with his years of experience and issue mastery, has led to an impressive post-Senate career. In 2010, for example, he co-chaired President Barack Obama’s Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform. Shooting from the Lip portrays a statesman punching sacred cows, challenging the media, and grappling with some of the nation’s most difficult challenges.
“Al Simpson’s been likened to a bull in a china shop. That’s not fair. Al’s much louder. And unlike that bull, Al’s cleaning up after other people’s messes! I call him a very fair and balanced critic: he bashes everyone and coddles no one. No wonder both sides love to rip him. He gets under their skin, and reading Shooting from the Lip, you quickly discover that not only has Al built a remarkable career on this ability but our nation is sure as hell the better for it!”—Neil Cavuto, News Anchor and Managing Editor, Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network
"Al Simpson was a Senator with the right touch. Because of his integrity and his humor, he had many friends in the United States Senate—deservedly so."—George H. W. Bush, 41st President of the United States
“Al Simpson is an American original. Among the many important events recounted in Donald Loren Hardy’s lively biography are gems from Simpson’s close friendship with Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush, which reveal as much about Al as they do about the presidents—that he is altogether without pretension, honest, never boring, and always good-hearted.”—David McCullough, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of John Adams
“Don Hardy has captured every mood, idiosyncrasy, beauty spot, and wart of this great American. The wonderful friendship between Al Simpson and me and our strong respect and love for each other are not based on our thinking alike on every political issue, but on our respect for the public policy–setting process, our advocacy for preserving the liberties and freedoms for which others have given their lives, and our belief in the opportunities this great country offers. This book is about a warm, wonderful person who has devoted his life to straight talk, unabashed patriotism, and a willingness to work “across the aisle” to make this a more perfect Union.”—Norman Y. Mineta, former United States Secretary of Transportation and Secretary of Commerce
“This lively biography of Al Simpson brilliantly captures a man as wide open and free-spirited as the West itself. Shooting from the Lip is refreshingly funny and irreverent—and never more timely than now, when the nation is once again turning to Simpson for straight talk about government spending.”—Andrea Mitchell Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent, NBC News
Shooting from the Lip: The Life of Senator Al Simpson is a biography that draws directly from the extensive, nineteen-volume journal that Senator Alan K. Simpson of Wyoming elected to keep shortly before he was elected to the post of majority whip. Colorful anecdotes and testimony of those who knew the senator best supports this excellent reconstruction of a strong-willed leader. Al Simpson himself gave Donald Loren Hardy full editorial control and a mandate to tell the complete, unvarnished truth. Shooting from the Lip especially scrutinizes Simpson's role in critical events such as the Iran-Contra scandal. Al Simpson's charisma, expertise, and talent for using humor as well as reason to drive home a point distinguish his political career. Shooting from the Lip is an excellent and engaging true story and a welcome addition to college and public library political biography shelves.—Midwest Book Review