D.C. Confidential - Memoir of Decades in DC Mingles Politics, Prose, and Public Service

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In Dispatches from the Eastern Front, Gerald Felix Warburg takes us on a fascinating four-decade tour inside the U.S. Capitol, where idealists and cynics clash, and the best policymaker is equal parts dreamer, salesman, and psychologist.

Gerald Felix Warburg

Gerry Warburg takes us inside decades of backroom deal-making at the Capitol.

The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Act and the Anti-Apartheid Sanctions Act are just two of the landmark laws Warburg was instrumental in helping craft and enact. Warburg started his D.C. political career at 21 as a lowly intern for U.S. Senator John Tunney (D-CA) in 1975. He ended it as a precinct organizer, helping turn out the vote in key Virginia counties for Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential bid. Along the way, he was deeply involved in U.S. policymaking on such issues as Soviet nuclear arms control, Israel aid, and human rights. He spent years working on the Senate floor as the defense, intelligence and foreign policy advisor to Majority Whip Alan Cranston, the California Democrat. Today, he is Professor of Public Policy and Assistant Dean at University of Virginia’s Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy.

In Dispatches from the Eastern Front: A Political Education from the Nixon Years to the Age of Obama (Bancroft Press, March 2014, hardcover), Gerry Warburg takes us inside decades of backroom deal-making at the Capitol, where principles are pressed by the political necessity of compromise. Unfailingly optimistic, Warburg holds firm that public service is a noble profession—one that Millennials should be encouraged to enter. Despite our government’s many flaws, Warburg concludes America’s democratic promise can still be fulfilled. “Just as second marriages represent the triumph of hope over experience, political memoirs should offer optimism as an antidote to the cynicism pervading most discussions about Washington,” he writes. In taking us deep into the D.C. labyrinth and without glossing over its corrupt practices, Warburg equips aspiring public servants with key insights to advance positive change. For readers not Washington-bound, Dispatches from the Eastern Front offers a compelling account of idealism and realpolitik in action.

Warburg's memoir is not only the story of a man navigating deep political waters, but also seeks to open an avenue of thoughtful discussion on many serious and ongoing topics.

  •     How libertarians, liberals and conservatives can find common cause to unite behind a set of sweeping measures to reform Congress, lobbying and the renewed Imperial Presidency…and why Millennials should commit to years of public service.
  •     How a recent eye-opening trip to Israel yielded recognition that the Palestinians have become the underdog, the role once filled by the vulnerable state of Israel. A committed supporter of Israeli democracy, he argues that the occupied West Bank should be swiftly returned to the Palestinians, U.S. taxpayers should phase out all funding for Israel, and the influence of AIPAC lobbyists should be checked. He maintains that the John Kerry-led peace process gives us hope for progress.
  •     Why he backs President Obama’s risky diplomatic initiative with Iran.
  •     How an unlikely coalition of grass-roots activists, campus protesters and civil rights veterans helped free Nelson Mandela, rallying the Senate to override Ronald Reagan’s unwise veto of the Anti-Apartheid Act, and the surprising role played by conservative Republicans led by Senator Dick Lugar.
  •     How anti-nuclear activists delivered a death blow to the secretive Joint Committee on Atomic Energy, the most powerful Hill panel of the 20th century, then passed the landmark Nuclear Non-Proliferation Act halting U.S. nuclear exports…and why lessons learned from these battles are highly relevant to current nuclear challenges, from Fukushima, Japan to Iran and North Korea.
  •     Why leaking sensitive information to the press is an art that any committed policy maker must master—and how his own career was nearly derailed by a misstep.
  •     Why, on the eve of the 40th anniversary of President Nixon’s resignation, he urges fellow progressives to re-think Nixon’s legacy, and resist the renewal of the Imperial Presidency under their champion Barack Obama. In just one of the book’s many revelations, he discusses how an anti-Reagan California liberal came, most improbably, to represent the Nixon family, bringing the Nixon Library and Museum and all the Nixon papers into the nonpartisan National Archives system.
  •     How he helped spirit famed Soviet dissident Andrei Sakharov’s bestselling autobiography, My Life, out of the USSR in the tense months before the collapse of communism, and why he dismisses those who credit his least-favorite president, Ronald Reagan, with the demise of the Soviet Union. Warburg’s inside-the-Kremlin descriptions of the last years of the Soviet Union offer new, captivating details.

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Bruce Bortz
Bancroft Press
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