Dispatches from the Eastern Front
A Political Education from the Nixon Years to the Age of Obama
By Gerald Felix Warburg
(Bancroft Press, Hardcover, 9781610880855, 265pp.)
Publication Date: March 15, 2014
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How does one arrive at a life in politics and policy? What happens to one’s ideals when confronted with the reality that, in Washington, the only way to get things done is compromise? Who are the men and women who help shape our national agenda, and what drives their work? Dispatches from the Eastern Front provides fascinating, intensely personal, yet universal answers to these central questions.
Recounting four decades inside Washington politics, Gerald Felix Warburg brings remarkable candor to a most unusual memoir. An idealistic California Baby Boomer transported to the intimidating world of Capitol Hill policymaking at a young age, Warburg finds himself working to reform nuclear energy, strategic arms control, and foreign policy. As his access and power grow, greater challenges loom: how to maintain principles while cutting deals, and how to balance public purpose with private interests. An eclectic career reveals the slow and often painful development of emotional intelligence for work at the highest reaches of the public arena.
Dispatches takes readers inside the closed conference rooms in the U.S. Capitol where leaders strike legislative bargains, to the inner circles of presidential campaigns where advisors jockey for position, and to the firms where well-paid lobbyists use their expertise to advance the interests of corporations and NGOs. Up close and personal profiles of many of our current national leaders emerge. Cycles of action, followed by academic reflection, permit the type of introspection and insight rare in our national politics.
Warburg has crafted a highly literate memoir chronicling the political education of a generation, along the way offering a subtle but effective call to the young to enter the public arena. His sage advice tells how, and why, to construct a career in public service, with irrepressibly optimistic counsel that will make Dispatches from the Eastern Front a political science standard for years to come.
He staffed congressional leadership delegations to more than a dozen countries, and served as a consultant to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and several U.S. presidential campaigns. Formerly executive vice president of Cassidy & Associates, a leading Washington public affairs firm, he taught previously at the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School of Communication, Georgetown University’s Walsh School of Foreign Service, and the Stanford in Washington Program.
His prior publications include Conflict and Consensus: The Struggle Between Congress and the President Over Foreign Policymaking (Harper); The Mandarin Club, a novel (Bancroft Press); two chapters on Congressional policymaking and lobbying in The National Security Enterprise: Navigating the Labyrinth (Georgetown Press); and “Nonproliferation Policy Crossroads: Lessons Learned from the U.S.-India Nuclear Agreement” in Contemporary Issues in U.S. Foreign Policy (CQ Press).
A graduate of Hampshire College, with a graduate degree from Stanford University, Warburg was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. He lives now in Virginia.
“The rarest of books about Washington, Dispatches is honest, without pretension or ulterior motive. A thoughtful and sophisticated call to public service, it is a must-read for young people thinking about a career in Washington. ”? JEFFREY BERGNER, FORMER ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE AND REPUBLICAN STAFF DIRECTOR, U.S. SENATE FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE
"Dispatches offers a heartfelt exploration of that inexplicable impulse that lures so many bright minds to the world of Washington politics and policymakers?from one who served long and well."?DOUGLAS A. BLACKMON, WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZE FOR SLAVERY BY ANOTHER NAME: THE RE-ENSLAVEMENT OF BLACK AMERICANS FROM THE CIVIL WAR TO WORLD WAR II
“Gerry Warburg’s inspirational and informative memoir is both a passionate call to participate in the making of public policy and a practical guide for doing so.”
? THOMAS FINGAR, STANFORD UNIVERSITY (OKSENBERG-ROHLEN DISTINGUISHED FELLOW IN THE FREEMAN SPOGLI INSTITUTE FOR INTERNATIONAL STUDIES); AND FORMER DEPUTY DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE FOR ANALYSIS
“Don’t read this book if you accept the notion that no one should see how laws and sausages are made. A first-hand exposé of politicians and special interest groups, Dispatches illuminates the strategies and tactics that shaped some of the most significant legislation in recent U.S. history. This book is indispensable for anyone who wants to know how laws are really made and how our country is really governed.”?KIM CRANSTON, CHAIR, GLOBAL SECURITY INSTITUTE
“A superbly written inside view of the modern Congress, Gerry Warburg’s Dispatches makes clear the impact smart and committed policy entrepreneurs can have, from legislators to corporate lobbyists to NGO activists. At a time when commentators lament the decline of Congress, here are powerful insights into the shaping of crucial national policies.”
—ADELE SMITH SIMMONS, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE MACARTHUR FOUNDATION
“A compelling narrative chronicling victories and defeats on the front lines of U.S. politics, Dispatches is written with the adrenalin of campaign crises. Warburg vividly reports details of encounters and conversations that shaped the nation’s history at the turn of the 21st century. His lively style of writing?eloquent yet colloquial, literary and journalistic?is highly engaging. His candor is palpable. This book should be required reading for citizens who wish to be informed about the realities of the practice of U.S. politics.” ?FLORENCE LADD, AUTHOR OF SARAH’S PSALM, BEST FICTION AWARD WINNER, BLACK CAUCUS OF THE AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION
“This wide-eyed, brutally honest account of politics and governing is a great read?exactly the kind of preparation current and future policy-makers need. Should be required reading for students longing to change Washington.”
?PROFESSOR LARRY SABATO, DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR POLITICS, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA