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A revelatory biography of the first Black woman to stand for Vice President, charting how the daughter of two immigrants in segregated California became one of this country’s most effective power players. There’s very little that’s conventional about Kamala Harris, and yet her personal story also represents the best of America. She grew up the eldest daughter of a single mo A revelatory biography of the first Black woman to stand for Vice President, charting how the daughter of two immigrants in segregated California became one of this country’s most effective power players. There’s very little that’s conventional about Kamala Harris, and yet her personal story also represents the best of America. She grew up the eldest daughter of a single mother, a no-nonsense cancer researcher who emigrated from India at the age of nineteen in search of a better education. She and her husband, an accomplished economist from Jamaica, split up when Kamala was only five. The Kamala Harris the public knows today is tough, smart, quick-witted, and demanding. She’s a prosecutor—her one-liners are legendary—but she’s more reticent when it comes to sharing much about herself, even in her memoirs. Fortunately, former Los Angeles Times reporter Dan Morain has been there from the start. In Kamala’s Way, he charts her career from its beginnings handling child molestation cases and homicides for the Alameda County District Attorney’s office and her relationship as a twenty-nine-year-old with the most powerful man in the state: married Assembly Speaker Willie Brown, a relationship that would prove life-changing. Morain takes readers through Harris’s years in the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office, explores her audacious embrace of the little-known Barack Obama, and shows the sharp elbows she deployed to make it to the US Senate. He analyzes her failure as a presidential candidate and the behind-the-scenes campaign she waged to land the Vice President spot. Along the way, he paints a vivid picture of her values and priorities, the kind of people she brings into her orbit, the sorts of problems she’s good at solving, and the missteps, risks, and bold moves she’s made on her way to the top. Kamala’s Way is essential reading for all Americans curious about the woman standing by Joe Biden’s side.


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A revelatory biography of the first Black woman to stand for Vice President, charting how the daughter of two immigrants in segregated California became one of this country’s most effective power players. There’s very little that’s conventional about Kamala Harris, and yet her personal story also represents the best of America. She grew up the eldest daughter of a single mo A revelatory biography of the first Black woman to stand for Vice President, charting how the daughter of two immigrants in segregated California became one of this country’s most effective power players. There’s very little that’s conventional about Kamala Harris, and yet her personal story also represents the best of America. She grew up the eldest daughter of a single mother, a no-nonsense cancer researcher who emigrated from India at the age of nineteen in search of a better education. She and her husband, an accomplished economist from Jamaica, split up when Kamala was only five. The Kamala Harris the public knows today is tough, smart, quick-witted, and demanding. She’s a prosecutor—her one-liners are legendary—but she’s more reticent when it comes to sharing much about herself, even in her memoirs. Fortunately, former Los Angeles Times reporter Dan Morain has been there from the start. In Kamala’s Way, he charts her career from its beginnings handling child molestation cases and homicides for the Alameda County District Attorney’s office and her relationship as a twenty-nine-year-old with the most powerful man in the state: married Assembly Speaker Willie Brown, a relationship that would prove life-changing. Morain takes readers through Harris’s years in the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office, explores her audacious embrace of the little-known Barack Obama, and shows the sharp elbows she deployed to make it to the US Senate. He analyzes her failure as a presidential candidate and the behind-the-scenes campaign she waged to land the Vice President spot. Along the way, he paints a vivid picture of her values and priorities, the kind of people she brings into her orbit, the sorts of problems she’s good at solving, and the missteps, risks, and bold moves she’s made on her way to the top. Kamala’s Way is essential reading for all Americans curious about the woman standing by Joe Biden’s side.

30 review for Kamala's Way: An American Life

  1. 5 out of 5

    Onceinabluemoon

    4.5 rounding up because it was the perfect day to listen! Admire her, looking forward to fresh healing competent future, welcome back America!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Carolyn Kost

    This book sinks in Californiana like a lead weight; the minutiae is excrutiating. If that's your bag, have at it. If not, even if you're raring for a paean to Harris, don't bother with this. Do yourself a favor and just read The New Yorker articles on Harris (e.g. https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/20... ). Or read her autobiography, The Truths We Hold, from which Morain sources most of his info. Morain's career has been focused on California politics and Harris became SF District Attorney and t This book sinks in Californiana like a lead weight; the minutiae is excrutiating. If that's your bag, have at it. If not, even if you're raring for a paean to Harris, don't bother with this. Do yourself a favor and just read The New Yorker articles on Harris (e.g. https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/20... ). Or read her autobiography, The Truths We Hold, from which Morain sources most of his info. Morain's career has been focused on California politics and Harris became SF District Attorney and then CA State Attorney General, so bla bla bla about CA politics, crime and criminal justice initiatives, gun control, charges against parents of habitual school truants, and mortgage relief to people who took on far more than they could pay. [I used to live in CA and was astonished by the folks earning $9/hour in the Del Monte packing plants buying $400,000 homes; um, as a taxpayer, I don't want to bail out people living above their means; ditto student loan debt eradication]. I'll save you the trouble and summarize: Kamala's mom to Kamala, what do you want? "Fee-dom!" (3). That Harris has repeated this brings to mind the German term Fremdschämen, embarrassment on behalf of another. I'm red-faced for her. About the assistance she received from her relationship with the married Willie Brown-the-Rainmaker: "He used that clout to open doors for Harris early in her career, part of a long tradition of mentorship and patronage. No one rises on his or her own...." (34). (What's a little adultery in politics, after all?; sex is a commodity, a means of exchange). Harris's character is unimpeachable, we read. In fact, when no one was watching, she visited a dying fan (64), demonstrating her humanity and true caring nature [egads]. "...Harris, always scouring the political landscape..." (67) just reveals moxy. "The comparisons between Harris and Obama were unmistakable, if facile: they are biracial, smart and attractive; both accomplished attorneys; and both reflective of the new face of the Democratic Party, if not the nation itself. The May 2006 edition of Ebony magazine names them both as being among the '100 + Most Influential Black Americans.' Her photo was number 5; his was number 67." When asked about Obama's legacy, "I have my own legacy," she told the reporter" (69). Now that's some authentic humility right there. Most important takeaway: Harris's sister, Maya, is married to the Tony West, chief legal officer of Uber, you know, those folks who want to avoid paying health insurance and other safety nets and make everyone an independent contractor. He is responsible for its legal, security and compliance and [lack of] ethics functions. He had been Associate Attorney General of the United States and general counsel of PepsiCo, another company known for its lack of ethics, union busting, and bottled public water tap water (Aquafina). That's quite a pedigree prioritizing monetary gain over ethics. I didn't know this until p. 115. How was this nugget kept out of the news? As a necessary aside not in this book: Harris and Gov. Moonbeam "oversaw the passage of the first ride-hailing state law in the country, California actively assisted ride hailing’s rise. The California law, which became a national model, included a state preemption that handcuffed the ability of local governments to establish their own laws for ride hailing, as they were already doing for traditional taxis. This turned out to be a terrible mistake. It set the stage for the destructive business model that soon swamped city after city. It did not take long before ride hailing’s familiar features became apparent. The companies flooded the streets with cars, resulting in dramatically increased traffic congestion, along with more pollution and carbon emissions. New York City published a report called “Empty Seats, Full Streets,” which showed that a third of drivers have empty cars as they circle, looking for a passenger and burning up hydrocarbons. Too many drivers meant not only more traffic and emissions, but not enough work for all of the drivers. Many do not even make minimum wage after driving expenses are deducted from their gross incomes." Read this: https://prospect.org/labor/kamala-har... It's a perplexing paradox that Harris's sister became pregnant at 17 and gave birth, although the Indian grandmother was a contraception educator and Harris is an ardent advocate for abortion rights. Yes, of course, Democrats defend individual choice and all that, but what if her sister, Maya, had aborted her beloved niece, Meena? Just puzzling this out... Her modest achievements in CA are listed in chapter 20. "Certainly she could have done more...But she was mindful of who she is, a Black woman..." (132). "Critics and some friends say Kamala Harris was overly cautious during her time as attorney general. There is evidence to support that view" (146). Obviously we are meant to see Harris as a politically astute moderate, until... In her victory speech after winning a seat in the Senate in 2016, Harris repeated "the word 'fight' no fewer than 26 times: "I intend to fight for BLM...for students against loan debt, to fight against Big Oil and science deniers, and to fight for workers' rights to collective bargaining and for gun safety laws" (165). BLM is an avowedly Marxist organization. Student loan debt erasure is regressive; it privileges the wealthy who will earn enough with their degree over time to pay off the debt. Science deniers include those on the Left who say that biological sex does not exist, so we can eradicate it, which will privilege men (see my review of Irreversible Damage"). This is an appropriate place to insert Harris's Tweet regarding equity vs. equality: https://twitter.com/kamalaharris/stat... Several chapters are devoted to Harris's role in the attempt to tie Russia to Trump's election. She refused to meet with Trump's nominees, preferring instead to "grill them in public...with yes-or-no questions about complex topics that could not be answered in simple ways....[This] might make for good sound bites, but it did little to provide the public with answers...[or] foster productive relationships..." (188). Again, she knows how to position herself, which is affirmed by the spectacle of Harris v. Kavanaugh. Is it that Democrats believe Christine Blasey Ford and don't believe Tara Reade? Misogyny abounds on both sides of the aisle. The Biden-Harris presidential campaign is lightly treated in the final chapters 32-34, since we all lived through it and it's fresh in memory. That's it. Nothing surprising, edifying or revealing. Skip this one.

  3. 4 out of 5

    TEELOCK Mithilesh

    Though the Vice President-elect was well known among Californians, the country learned much more about Kamala Harris when President-elect Joe Biden named her to the Democratic ticket in August 2020. In Kamala’s Way (Simon & Schuster), journalist Dan Morain—who has covered California policy, politics, and justice-related issues for more than four decades at the Los Angeles Times and the Sacramento Bee—offers a revelatory biography of the first Black woman Vice President, charting how the daughter Though the Vice President-elect was well known among Californians, the country learned much more about Kamala Harris when President-elect Joe Biden named her to the Democratic ticket in August 2020. In Kamala’s Way (Simon & Schuster), journalist Dan Morain—who has covered California policy, politics, and justice-related issues for more than four decades at the Los Angeles Times and the Sacramento Bee—offers a revelatory biography of the first Black woman Vice President, charting how the daughter of two immigrants in segregated California became one of this country’s most effective power players.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Donna Hines

    I'll tell you one thing about Kamala is that she's a no-nonsense, fight till the end, take no prisoners type of person. How she got to be Vice President wasn't by resting on her laurels, waiting for the shoe to drop, or giving the go-ahead by her constituents. She did as many of us are doing in forging her own path and doing it "her way." You have to admire a woman who didn't have anything handed to her, who worked her way up through the ranks, paid her way through college working several jobs, an I'll tell you one thing about Kamala is that she's a no-nonsense, fight till the end, take no prisoners type of person. How she got to be Vice President wasn't by resting on her laurels, waiting for the shoe to drop, or giving the go-ahead by her constituents. She did as many of us are doing in forging her own path and doing it "her way." You have to admire a woman who didn't have anything handed to her, who worked her way up through the ranks, paid her way through college working several jobs, and navigated her way through the bumpy terrain known as politics. Whether in her home state of California or now working with the District of Columbia -she's a woman with superior knowledge, tenacity, and class. A moral high ground candidate that will serve us well against the powers that be in the corruption world of toxic individuals and dangerous self-serving players. I'll offer some quotes from this wonderful work presented by Dan Morain who did an excellent job is his portrayal of Kamala Harris. "I knew that the people in our society who are most often targeted by predators are also most often the voiceless and vulnerable." "There is absolutely a double standard you need to be aware of. Being a woman that some would consider attractive carries its own baggage." "People assume you're not substantial. It's why it's so important to talk to as many people as possible, and keep conveying what you stand for." "If you've stepped out in life, you will have enemies. It's not the end of the world-and sometimes it's even good." "I have my own legacy." With regards to 'double dipping' by Steve Cooley she responded, "Go for it, Steve." With a "gotcha" laugh, she added, "You've earned it; there's no question." For all intense purposes she not only is our first Black woman of Indian descent to become California's top cop but also our first Vice President. No small feat for mankind or womankind as the case may be. Many may not realize prior to the national spotlight just how much she accomplished, how hard she worked, how much she fought to preserve and protect. Some of these items included: Proposition 8, privacy laws, mortgage rights, death penalty, and much more. She's been dubbed the "female Obama." and for good reason with her signature hoodie, and fancy shoes dancing on stage. According to Elizabeth Warren as quoted by Dan Morain- "She views lawyers as heroes and takes on mortgage companies the way Elizabeth Warren takes on Wall Street." She rose according to Dan, " in the rough-and-tough politics of San Francisco and had been vetted by investigative journalists and some of the best opposition researchers from both parties. She had run hard races and won and lost. Her goo and not-so-good traits were known to Biden's team. She would match well with Vice President Mike Pence and didn't have a habit of making mistakes on the trail. She also would bring excitement and maybe even some dance moves to a ticket led by a man.." So, who could argue with that? This was a fab read that brought with it much insight into the world and times of a woman that truly rose through the ranks. I'm proud to see her in her new rank and role for our country and pray she's protected and safe.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Karina

    I was disappointed in this. I found the book very tedious and - I'm sorry to say - quite boring. It's a lot of names in a lot of places at a lot of dates. I wanted to get an understanding of Kamala as a person, but all I felt I got, was her resume. I was disappointed in this. I found the book very tedious and - I'm sorry to say - quite boring. It's a lot of names in a lot of places at a lot of dates. I wanted to get an understanding of Kamala as a person, but all I felt I got, was her resume.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Laurie Greenhut

    Not exactly a puff piece but not an in depth look at the personality and circumstances that led to Kamala Harris being the first to break the national glass ceiling. Rather, the author provides a basic overview of the highlights of Kamala's biography, focusing mainly on her steps up the political ladder. And thats the trouble I have with the book. On the one hand, it was good to brush up on her professional highlights-prosecutor, district attorney, attorney general, Senator. But her decision mak Not exactly a puff piece but not an in depth look at the personality and circumstances that led to Kamala Harris being the first to break the national glass ceiling. Rather, the author provides a basic overview of the highlights of Kamala's biography, focusing mainly on her steps up the political ladder. And thats the trouble I have with the book. On the one hand, it was good to brush up on her professional highlights-prosecutor, district attorney, attorney general, Senator. But her decision making, although clearly leaning left and reflecting her liberal values, really were, in essence, political decisions. What she decided to do, what she decided not to do. What she decided to say. What she decided not to say. Its not pure. Politics is not pure. If you want to achieve anything, you've got to get elected, you've got to play the game, make the right connections, raise money. And thats what makes the book a little disappointing. I wanted to read the book and just love her! Instead I realized that truthfully, she's a politician doing what politicians do. However, don't get me wrong. Her political savvy led her to the Vice Presidency and who knows whats coming next. I'll still be voting for her!

  7. 5 out of 5

    DIlp

    the author seemed to deliver a neutral narrative most of the way. while i have not been following kamala politically and could not corroborate the facts and achievements ,had to agree with some of the below: -lack of bipartisanship -possibly perceived as threat by elderly politicians - inability to digest a smart brown voice - apt use f social media in harvesting support but i had to laugh at the below: - fighting spirit being instilled into her since the time her mother took her out to protest in str the author seemed to deliver a neutral narrative most of the way. while i have not been following kamala politically and could not corroborate the facts and achievements ,had to agree with some of the below: -lack of bipartisanship -possibly perceived as threat by elderly politicians - inability to digest a smart brown voice - apt use f social media in harvesting support but i had to laugh at the below: - fighting spirit being instilled into her since the time her mother took her out to protest in stroller....this was really pushing it very little has been mentioned about her faith which is a area of interest to me.just like Bobby jindal she seem to have opportunistically chosen Christianity as being Christian is one of the major criteria for being an American president. have spent a significant amount of time in states and cant believe a Hindu American would identify as African American except under dire circumstances or an arising opportunity. another factor that could lead to it is a left leaning mindset of parents if any....

  8. 5 out of 5

    Darcy

    I have to admit I don't know much about Kamala, other than what has been in the press as she was running for President and then as Biden's VP. What I did see I liked, so when this book popped up at my library's website I requested it to learn more. This one gives a bit on her family back ground, but more focused on her professional life and her rise through California politics. At times I wasn't sure if the author liked Kamala, didn't like her or was indifferent. Overall it was fairly positive. I have to admit I don't know much about Kamala, other than what has been in the press as she was running for President and then as Biden's VP. What I did see I liked, so when this book popped up at my library's website I requested it to learn more. This one gives a bit on her family back ground, but more focused on her professional life and her rise through California politics. At times I wasn't sure if the author liked Kamala, didn't like her or was indifferent. Overall it was fairly positive. Where Kamala was judged a bit harshly was were all women are and probably especially Black women. I like that Kamala is tough on the establishment and hope she keeps fighting it.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Ietrio

    A hagiography that might bring benefits to the author. Of course, the unpleasant parts are conveniently forgotten, the well known parts are carefully white washed and the rest is overblown.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jeremy Anderberg

    I didn’t know much about Harris before she became a presidential candidate. After reading Morain’s book, I came away with a deeper understanding of not only our first woman elected on a presidential ticket, but the forces that shaped her life and career too. From young protester (her mom brought her to peace protests while still in a stroller), to Canadian misfit (she was in Montreal for her middle and high school years); from ambitious student at Howard U in DC, to young prosecutor in the Bay Ar I didn’t know much about Harris before she became a presidential candidate. After reading Morain’s book, I came away with a deeper understanding of not only our first woman elected on a presidential ticket, but the forces that shaped her life and career too. From young protester (her mom brought her to peace protests while still in a stroller), to Canadian misfit (she was in Montreal for her middle and high school years); from ambitious student at Howard U in DC, to young prosecutor in the Bay Area; from California’s Attorney General, to presidential candidate. Morain covers it all pretty objectively—though the positives are given more attention than the negatives, which I wish would have been explored a bit deeper. Along the way, the reader gets a really interesting inside look at the unique makeup and politics of California itself, and especially of the Bay Area. Titans of the state’s power structures who pop up include Jerry Brown, Dianne Feinstein, Nancy Pelosi, Gavin Newsom, and ex-boyfriend Willie Brown (which was a weird relationship and I wish it would have been given more real estate in the book). As with Osnos’ book on Biden, the intention here is definitely to be a short primer on the woman elected to one of the most powerful positions in America, for people who are now trying to get to know her as she takes office. The books seem similar in form and intent, though Morain covers Harris’ early life better than Osnos does Biden. Again, I’ll just say that I just wish there was more. That book will come someday, though there’s certainly additional chapters to be written. To repeat what I said above: in the meantime, this is a good place to start. Rating: 3.5/5

  11. 5 out of 5

    Saurabh Sharma

    Book Review: Kamala’s Way – An American Life By Dan Morain Published on Feminism in India I am unsure how many Indians knew about Kamala Devi Harris before the 2020 US presidential elections. The daughter of the India-born Shyamala Gopalan and Jamaican-born Donald Harris, Kamala was California’s first Black woman to become a district attorney (DA). Then she went on to assume the same position in San Francisco. And finally became the first-ever woman to assume one of the highest-ranking positio Book Review: Kamala’s Way – An American Life By Dan Morain Published on Feminism in India I am unsure how many Indians knew about Kamala Devi Harris before the 2020 US presidential elections. The daughter of the India-born Shyamala Gopalan and Jamaican-born Donald Harris, Kamala was California’s first Black woman to become a district attorney (DA). Then she went on to assume the same position in San Francisco. And finally became the first-ever woman to assume one of the highest-ranking positions in US political history by becoming the Vice President. Not only that, but she’s also the first-ever African-American and Asian-American to do so. What she goes on to achieve from here is only left to be seen. Don Morain’s biography of the US’ Vice President Kamala’s Way: An American Life chronicles her life. Morain has been covering justice-related issues in California for over four decades now and has covered Harris’s career for almost two decades. This makes him uniquely positioned to write this book in which he has unearthed and collected stories that have made Harris what she is today. His words are sharp and selective. He never misses an opportunity to lay out bare facts, provides the necessary background, contextualizes histories for the average reader, and poses necessary questions in a series of thirty-four crisp and consumable chapters in Kamala’s Way: An American Life. Kamala’s Roots “If Kamala Harris owes her place in history to anyone, it is to the twenty-six-year-old Indian immigrant who gave birth to her at Kaiser Hospital in Oakland, California, in the fall of 1964,” writes Morain. He also narrates an incident that Harris recounts often: “She tells the family tale that on one occasion, as she was fussing in the stroller, her mother asked what she wanted. ‘Fee-dom!’ she is said to have answered.” It’s this ethos and family values that have shaped Kamala’s personality, writes Morain in Kamala’s Way: An American Life. Her parents participated in the Civil Rights movement, and her mother welcomed Wanda Kagan, Harris’ friend from the high school, who was facing abuse at the hands of her stepfather. When Harris was invited on The Oprah Winfrey Show, after becoming the DA, Kagan watched her friend at the prestigious talk show, admiring her more than ever. Being a private person, it’s never Kamala’s way to make such things public. It’d be rare instances when she’ll speak about her family, but when she does, she doesn’t hide. Of her father, she said: “He’s a good guy, but we’re not close.” But she’d not even flinch to make a sassy and savage remark, behaving almost like the real-life avatar of Annalise Keating from How to Get Away With Murder. Sample this: “When Harris ran for president, a Politico reporter asked her about carrying on Obama’s legacy. ‘I have my own legacy,’ she told the reporter.” quotes Morain in Kamala’s Way: An American Life. When, as a US Senator, she asked Judge Kavanaugh on women’s right to abortion: “Can you think of any laws that give the government the power to make decisions about the male body?” to which Kavanaugh didn’t know how to respond. Kamala: the Top Cop! Morain writes how Kamala believed in institutionalizing processes that nip the evil in the bud. She instituted “a program aimed at diverting first-time nonviolent offenders from a life in crime by dismissing charges if they enrolled in job training in what she called the Back on Track program.” She fought for the rights of same-sex couples to marry. When the California Supreme Court made a response similar to the Indian government’s recent response toward the same-sex marriage—“Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California”—Harris was out and about to fight against Proposition 8—to put it crudely: their Section 377. She proportioned for the statewide gun control when she became San Francisco’s DA, making it clear that “[i]t’s much cheaper to focus on getting that elementary school student to school than it is prosecuting a homicide,” Kamala’s Way: An American Life notes. She even made a huge stride against human trafficking. In her second year as the DA, she gave Maggy Krell an open hand to go after Backpage. In Krell’s words, she said: “Go get ’em.” The picture, however, is not all that rosy after all. Given how Morain has been covering Harris’ career for decades now, one would expect a more critical engagement especially with the domains wherein she has very evidently faltered to be the ‘voice of the voiceless’ she has always wanted to be. The New York Times reported how Harris is “constantly negotiating a middle ground between two powerful forces: the police and the left in one of the most liberal states in America.” And, when it comes to the principles she held dear to herself, contrary to that, in her initial years as a DA, the conviction rate jumped from 52 to 67. Also, as Politico argues, Harris has definitely “courted influential friends among San Francisco’s moneyed elite” for funding her campaigns. The Atlantic has also criticised her for “splurging on luxury cars, airline tickets, and first-class accommodations.” Morain includes this in Kamala’s Way: An American Life as he writes: “The magazine reported bills totaling $18,000 at such luxury hotels as Washington’s St. Regis, the Waldorf Astoria in Chicago, and the W in Los Angeles. The piece cited ‘anemic fundraising [that] have dimmed her aura of inevitability.’” Against All Odds Kamala has been cut-off by Republicans while asking “testy” questions to people in power. Once a “guy with the man bun” also grabbed the microphone during her talk on gender pay inequity, taking her by surprise. Her father once remarked rather unfavorably against her. (Harris, on The Breakfast Club, responded about smoking marijuana in college—“Half my family’s from Jamaica. Are you kidding me?”) But nothing has deterred Kamala from achieving what she wanted to be. A comparison, that’d make Indians smile, as it’s akin to any feminist-themed Bollywood movie, Morain calls Kamala an avatar of Kali in Kamala’s Way: An American Life. However, the Kali-avatar didn’t want to be, as Morain writes, “anyone’s vice president.” But that’s no less a feat.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Laurel-Rain

    A revelatory biography of the first Black woman to stand for Vice President, charting how the daughter of two immigrants in segregated California became one of this country’s most effective power players. There’s very little that’s conventional about Kamala Harris, and yet her personal story also represents the best of America. She grew up the eldest daughter of a single mother, a no-nonsense cancer researcher who emigrated from India at the age of nineteen in search of a better education. She an A revelatory biography of the first Black woman to stand for Vice President, charting how the daughter of two immigrants in segregated California became one of this country’s most effective power players. There’s very little that’s conventional about Kamala Harris, and yet her personal story also represents the best of America. She grew up the eldest daughter of a single mother, a no-nonsense cancer researcher who emigrated from India at the age of nineteen in search of a better education. She and her husband, an accomplished economist from Jamaica, split up when Kamala was only five. The Kamala Harris the public knows today is tough, smart, quick-witted, and demanding. She’s a prosecutor—her one-liners are legendary—but she’s more reticent when it comes to sharing much about herself, even in her memoirs. Fortunately, former Los Angeles Times reporter Dan Morain has been there from the start. In Kamala’s Way, he charts her career from its beginnings handling child molestation cases and homicides for the Alameda County District Attorney’s office and her relationship as a twenty-nine-year-old with the most powerful man in the state: married Assembly Speaker Willie Brown, a relationship that would prove life-changing. Morain takes readers through Harris’s years in the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office, explores her audacious embrace of the little-known Barack Obama, and shows the sharp elbows she deployed to make it to the US Senate. He analyzes her failure as a presidential candidate and the behind-the-scenes campaign she waged to land the Vice President spot. Along the way, he paints a vivid picture of her values and priorities, the kind of people she brings into her orbit, the sorts of problems she’s good at solving, and the missteps, risks, and bold moves she’s made on her way to the top. My Thoughts: In Kamala’s Way, we meet an unconventional, bright, and ambitious girl who grows into a young woman on the move. A woman with goals and an intensity about achieving them. She had no problem being mentored by powerful people, including an older man who opened some doors for her. But she worked hard and had the ability to speak out against the wrongs she witnessed in her daily life. Moving from her role as a prosecutor to attorney general of California and finally to a senate seat in 2016, she was poised to become the change that she wanted to effect in the world and was ready to correct the ills she encountered. Sometimes her “way” put her on a path of antagonizing some, while at other times, her truly compassionate side shone through. In the end, she stayed focused and finally found her true calling in the 2020 election as the Vice President in Joe Biden’s Presidency. Sometimes the author skipped around a lot in the telling of this story, but he always caught me up in the end. 4.5 stars.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Asher

    I'm not a fan of Kamala Harris. Dan Morain obviously is. That's fair. I will concede happily that she has good qualities and has done good things. However, Morain's unrelenting support for her throughout the book grows irritating. He quite simply has nothing bad to say about her. He bends over backward to explain away facts inconvenient to Harris's perfection. And of course, he acts as if liberal viewpoints on most issues are plain common sense. Heck, that's not even my main complaint. Weighing i I'm not a fan of Kamala Harris. Dan Morain obviously is. That's fair. I will concede happily that she has good qualities and has done good things. However, Morain's unrelenting support for her throughout the book grows irritating. He quite simply has nothing bad to say about her. He bends over backward to explain away facts inconvenient to Harris's perfection. And of course, he acts as if liberal viewpoints on most issues are plain common sense. Heck, that's not even my main complaint. Weighing in at a measly 230 pages of actual text, the book doesn't really justify its own existence. Biographies don't have to be long, but if they're short, they had better be really good. This isn't. Mere paragraphs are dedicated to topics that ought to have several pages, and easily could have several pages. The information is almost never more than surface level. Occasionally, Morain, randomly inspired to provide extra detail, will zero in on people like Willie Brown and Kimberly Guilfoyle. Those people never really show up again in the book, and the extra information he gives isn't really pertinent to anything he's been saying. Morain didn't interview Harris for the book. He explains this by saying she was too busy running for Vice-President, which is suspect. Interviews are one of the things that candidates for office do. After all, Joe Biden found time to sit down with Evan Osnos for Joe Biden. But whatever. Instead, Morain draws heavily from Harris' autobiography, The Truths We Hold. Do yourself a favor and just read that, uninterrupted by Morain, if you are interested in Harris. Finally, the book ends before the conclusion of the 2020 election. Yet it was published in 2021 - so clearly it wasn't intended as a resource for voters (unlike say, The Real Romney). And yet, it can't have been intended as a celebration of Harris's victory, since she had not yet won when he finished the book. So what was the point of writing it? This is Morain's first book, and it shows. It is limited in its scope, biased in its presentation, and unable to shed any new light on Harris. There are many things to be written about Kamala Harris, and she deserves to be written about. Though this book is not it, her definitive biography will eventually be written. I look forward to reading it.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Marc ZEIMET

    Kamala, who? That was the question to be asked (by me) when the book was published. Even though the person about whom the biography book talks has been in the limelight for some time. Author and journalist Dan Morain presents an insightful book about Kamala Devi Harris, the new Vice-President of the US. It is an interesting read with a recount in various episodes about the ‘becoming’ of this political personality who is ever more considered to be an ascending star. Is it possible, through this b Kamala, who? That was the question to be asked (by me) when the book was published. Even though the person about whom the biography book talks has been in the limelight for some time. Author and journalist Dan Morain presents an insightful book about Kamala Devi Harris, the new Vice-President of the US. It is an interesting read with a recount in various episodes about the ‘becoming’ of this political personality who is ever more considered to be an ascending star. Is it possible, through this book, to understand Kamala Harris as a person and importantly enough as a public affairs decision maker? To some extent. It appears from the biographical input that we are being shown facets of a person who grew up as a child of immigrants to the US, the latter having chosen this ‘country of opportunities’ to live their private and professional dreams, but it also reflects on the many difficulties, deprivations, hurdles in the lives of those families. Kamala Harris, from her origins, is a person of colour, born and brought up in America, the land of the free, and she seems to have chosen the ‘way of fight’, rather than the one of fright or flight. In that way, the book is inspiring and motivating on many occasions, when her life stories are told. The book enables the discovery of this public figure as a private person, some of her character traits, her drives, her way of thinking along with mindsets that seem to have been shaped by many aspects of her life experiences, all that ultimately makes her outstanding - she is depicted as a human being who is definitely not a pale all-world woman, but someone who wants to contribute, support social change, and have a voice in this process. The biography is able to transfer this motivation in her political, and prior legal profession, agendas. In that respect this document delivers. One might have expected a few more inputs generated from interviews by people who know Kamala Harris privately and politically. But the author provides a satisfying answer to such a query, and finds ways to distil the essence out of his (very neatly selected, while abundant) sources of information. Morain is among those writers who made the start with their biographical work on Kamala Harris, the interested readership is certainly looking forward to more recounts and reflections on this emerging political leader and how she can make a difference, ultimately stand out.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Deb

    This is a relatively fast read full of interesting material about California politics as well as a good explanation of "Kamala's way" of doing politicql business. The daughter of immigrants from India and Jamaica who met while studying for their PhDs, Kamala grew up in Berkeley and Oakland and then went to high school in Montreal, when her mom took a job at McGill University. Her parents divorced when she was five years old and her sister was three, but Kamala spent many childhood summers with h This is a relatively fast read full of interesting material about California politics as well as a good explanation of "Kamala's way" of doing politicql business. The daughter of immigrants from India and Jamaica who met while studying for their PhDs, Kamala grew up in Berkeley and Oakland and then went to high school in Montreal, when her mom took a job at McGill University. Her parents divorced when she was five years old and her sister was three, but Kamala spent many childhood summers with him traveling to Jamaica to learn of her roots there. Her dad was a professor of economics at Stanford, while her mom worked in the immunology lab at Berkeley, studying ways to cure cancer. Even though she went to high school in Canada and then undergraduate school at Howard University in Washint]gton, DC, she came back to California to attend Hastings Law School before joining the prosecutor's office, first in Alameda County and later in San Francisco. By the time she ran for DA in San Frnacisco, she had been a prosecutor for nearly twenty years. Biographer Morain does a nice job of following her career, explaining her management style - she is a demanding enough boss that more than a few former emploees felt left behind - and hitting the highlights of her career as California Attorney General and US Senator. What comes across is a multi-dimenional, bi-racial, fiercely ambitious woman who is also warm, a foodie, family-oriented and immensely thoughtful with her friends. If anybody can handle the heat in our highly partisan capitol, it is this woman.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Michelle Beckford

    This book was fabulous-an educational , enlightening and inspiring account of “kamala’s way.”. Intriguing account of California history law and politics and Kamala’s role within. Kamala the staunch advocate for social justice, women’s reproductive rights, protection of immigrants. Kamala also the antagonist to the trump administration and the woman who used her prosecutorial skills to take on political challenges as she raced up the leadership ladder; Sometimes viewed as brash and tenacious. An This book was fabulous-an educational , enlightening and inspiring account of “kamala’s way.”. Intriguing account of California history law and politics and Kamala’s role within. Kamala the staunch advocate for social justice, women’s reproductive rights, protection of immigrants. Kamala also the antagonist to the trump administration and the woman who used her prosecutorial skills to take on political challenges as she raced up the leadership ladder; Sometimes viewed as brash and tenacious. An glimpse into the unanticipated collapse of the Hillary Clinton campaign. More than that Kamala’s story is presented as incredibly humanistic. Her relationship with her press secretary the late Tyrone Gayle tugs at your heart strings. Touted as the female perspective to Obamas charisma and diversity. A woman on the rise despite setbacks ie lack of funding and an embarrassing lack of black voter support in Southern California resulted in a relatively early collapse in her bid for presidential election. Now Kamala brings her deeply held values to serve as the democratic Vice President to rival Joe Biden. She brings new energy and perspective to take on challenges including racial injustice, climate change, pandemic response. This was a read that was educational and enjoyable.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jamie Casey

    When I first purchased the book, I didn’t realize that Kamala hadn’t written it. I think I’m going to have to go back and read her biography again. I enjoyed this book. It was nice to get another perspective on things. Especially about her journey through different offices. I also liked that Dan even included things that she did wrong. All the places where she would advocate strongly for something and then back down about the same issues bothers me. I get that a woman can change her mind and all When I first purchased the book, I didn’t realize that Kamala hadn’t written it. I think I’m going to have to go back and read her biography again. I enjoyed this book. It was nice to get another perspective on things. Especially about her journey through different offices. I also liked that Dan even included things that she did wrong. All the places where she would advocate strongly for something and then back down about the same issues bothers me. I get that a woman can change her mind and all of that but if you are putting people into jail for a cause, that better be a cause that you really believe in and aren’t going to bend or change on. I’m still confused by that and just some of her actions when she ran for president. I’m glad that she is our Vice President. I don’t think she was quite ready for president. And let’s be honest, Joe is old! Hopefully she’ll learn what she needs to while he’s still around and she can take over for him. I’m excited to see what they get done and do. A lot of good insight in this book. I would recommend for sure!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    This wasn't close to what was anticipated. Kamala Harris has lead a remarkable life and her background (raised by an amazing single mother should have been covered, as well as her years practicing law). This was disappointing for the first female VP who is changing politics with President Biden and probably will become the first female POTUS. Following the despicable four years of Donald Trump, Biden and Harris will restore the US to civil, justice and harmony by serving all citizens as the Cons This wasn't close to what was anticipated. Kamala Harris has lead a remarkable life and her background (raised by an amazing single mother should have been covered, as well as her years practicing law). This was disappointing for the first female VP who is changing politics with President Biden and probably will become the first female POTUS. Following the despicable four years of Donald Trump, Biden and Harris will restore the US to civil, justice and harmony by serving all citizens as the Constitution intended. Citizens of the country deserve to know her unique and amazing history; she's an ambitious woman with a fascinating history and an empowering future. I recommend 'The Truths We Hold: An American Journey' by Kamala Harris (2019) as an excellent read. It is a much better book than this one by Dan Morain who is a journalist in CA; seems he was out for the money of a book. Read the real information by Kamala, herself and find out her history and biography and ambitions in an amazing read as mentioned above.

  19. 4 out of 5

    David Dunlap

    [stopped at page 26] It gives me no great joy to write a thoroughly negative review about ANY book, but I must be honest. This book is terrible! The author seems to have no idea how to structure a paragraph: he will provide a sentence or two (maybe even several) on his subject, Kamala Harris, then he will go off on some seemingly irrelevant tangent -- introducing other people into the narrative, then as promptly dropping them -- and meander around until returning to his subject. He also seems to [stopped at page 26] It gives me no great joy to write a thoroughly negative review about ANY book, but I must be honest. This book is terrible! The author seems to have no idea how to structure a paragraph: he will provide a sentence or two (maybe even several) on his subject, Kamala Harris, then he will go off on some seemingly irrelevant tangent -- introducing other people into the narrative, then as promptly dropping them -- and meander around until returning to his subject. He also seems to have no sense of chronology, of how one event in a life leads to another event, which, in turn, leads to yet another. Doesn't Simon & Schuster even HIRE editors any more? -- There might be a decent biography buried in among the lines of this book, but the thicket of verbiage is badly in need of trimming and rearranging. UGH!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Amara

    Apparently nobody who read this book actually followed this woman’s political career. This is main stream drivel, boringly packaged with random dates and glossed over California policies, to convince the uninformed and gullible that she actually made positive strides in her career. This woman slept her way to the top, which is completely overlooked, flip-flopped on every objective she could, unfairly jailed minorities and held onto evidence that could have freed them, and simply happened to perf Apparently nobody who read this book actually followed this woman’s political career. This is main stream drivel, boringly packaged with random dates and glossed over California policies, to convince the uninformed and gullible that she actually made positive strides in her career. This woman slept her way to the top, which is completely overlooked, flip-flopped on every objective she could, unfairly jailed minorities and held onto evidence that could have freed them, and simply happened to perfectly fit the identity politics utilized this presidential election. If any of you remember, she was left out of the presidential run and even called her soon to be running mate a racist. Save yourself the trouble and just go study the actual destructive policies she passed to line her own pockets and get ahead. This was truly “her way” ...

  21. 4 out of 5

    Mary Ellin

    Thank heavens, I’ve finished this dreadful book. It was like reading a 225-page resume. The only things I learned about “Kamala’s Way” were: She can be very nice to people she likes (i.e., Democrats), she can be very mean to people she doesn’t like (i.e., Republicans), and she’s the maddening sort of politician who runs for office not because she (or he) wants that job and the opportunity to serve the good of all, but rather to get positioned for the next (higher) office and to continually adjus Thank heavens, I’ve finished this dreadful book. It was like reading a 225-page resume. The only things I learned about “Kamala’s Way” were: She can be very nice to people she likes (i.e., Democrats), she can be very mean to people she doesn’t like (i.e., Republicans), and she’s the maddening sort of politician who runs for office not because she (or he) wants that job and the opportunity to serve the good of all, but rather to get positioned for the next (higher) office and to continually adjust to prevailing political winds. Oh, I also learned the proper way to pronounce her first name: COMma-la. If you want to learn about Kamala Harris as a person, skip this book and find something published in The Atlantic, The New Yorker, Rolling Stone, or a similar publication that hires writers who actually know how to put together an interesting, readable personality profile.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Maumita Sarkar

    Don't read it, that's all I can say. After reading an autobiography like Becoming, this was an utter failure. Like I mentioned in my 50% completed review, there is nothing about Kamala Harris here. It's just a lot of names that a non American like me doesn't know, lots of dates and unnecessary details. Not to forget a lot of newspaper clippings. I learnt nothing about Kamala Harris and the book talks nothing about Kamala Harris's way other other the line being forcefully fitted into the book a c Don't read it, that's all I can say. After reading an autobiography like Becoming, this was an utter failure. Like I mentioned in my 50% completed review, there is nothing about Kamala Harris here. It's just a lot of names that a non American like me doesn't know, lots of dates and unnecessary details. Not to forget a lot of newspaper clippings. I learnt nothing about Kamala Harris and the book talks nothing about Kamala Harris's way other other the line being forcefully fitted into the book a couple of time. The only enjoyable pages are when Trump gets mentioned, well that man knows how to entertain audience, doesn't he!! I am so happy I managed to get to the finish; no matter how bad a book is, I can't leave it midway and this book tested my motto a hell lot.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Kindra

    I try to read a biography of all leading presidential candidates and just got around to Kamala. This particular bio was chosen only because it was available as an audiobook from my library. The repeated use of ‘it was Kamala’s way’ and its variations was a little cheesy but overall this was good for a political bio. Many books about political figures are either fawningly positive or overly negative. This was one of the more neutral bios I’ve read in recent years although it seemed clear the auth I try to read a biography of all leading presidential candidates and just got around to Kamala. This particular bio was chosen only because it was available as an audiobook from my library. The repeated use of ‘it was Kamala’s way’ and its variations was a little cheesy but overall this was good for a political bio. Many books about political figures are either fawningly positive or overly negative. This was one of the more neutral bios I’ve read in recent years although it seemed clear the author does support Harris. The author covered the basics of Harris’ career, political history, successes and failures.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Coleen

    In the author's notes, he reveals that a publisher was looking for a writer to crank out a book on Kamala Harris. Morain, a longtime reporter for the LA Times and the Sacramento Bee, ended up being that writer. He rushed to get this book produced during the 2020 campaign, so never interviewed Harris or others who knew her best. Therefore, readers won't get many personal glimpses into her -- although there are several anecdotes that demonstrate her warmth and caring are real. Instead, this book c In the author's notes, he reveals that a publisher was looking for a writer to crank out a book on Kamala Harris. Morain, a longtime reporter for the LA Times and the Sacramento Bee, ended up being that writer. He rushed to get this book produced during the 2020 campaign, so never interviewed Harris or others who knew her best. Therefore, readers won't get many personal glimpses into her -- although there are several anecdotes that demonstrate her warmth and caring are real. Instead, this book chronicles her fast rise in California politics. That being said, I found this book fascinating. Lots of insights into California politics and those in its orbit.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Rosie Silva

    I hate to say this but... Don't read this book unless you really want to know and understand more about California's laws and politics. It's full of names, dates, and confusing details that are honestly utterly boring if you are only interested in Kamala's journey. I'm going to read Kamala's autobiography (The Truths We Hold: An American Journey) now that I know exactly what I want to read. Unfortunately, this book wasn't for me. If you're not American you will probably feel like it's a book fill I hate to say this but... Don't read this book unless you really want to know and understand more about California's laws and politics. It's full of names, dates, and confusing details that are honestly utterly boring if you are only interested in Kamala's journey. I'm going to read Kamala's autobiography (The Truths We Hold: An American Journey) now that I know exactly what I want to read. Unfortunately, this book wasn't for me. If you're not American you will probably feel like it's a book filled with scattered information, and it does feel overwhelming. Having said that, I just want to mention that Kamala Harris is a badass!!!

  26. 5 out of 5

    Lysbeth Van Valkenburg-Lely

    Tedious. I found too many facts to get through. I enjoyed learning more about Kamala Harris but I didn’t need to know so many dates, names, and background details regarding ancillary players in Kamala's story and there was way too much about California politics which, especially for someone living outside the US, was not so interesting. I appreciated that the author revealed both positive and negative traits of Kamala Harris, with supportive examples. But after reading this book I still don't kn Tedious. I found too many facts to get through. I enjoyed learning more about Kamala Harris but I didn’t need to know so many dates, names, and background details regarding ancillary players in Kamala's story and there was way too much about California politics which, especially for someone living outside the US, was not so interesting. I appreciated that the author revealed both positive and negative traits of Kamala Harris, with supportive examples. But after reading this book I still don't know much about the women Kamala Harris.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Denise

    Pros :: 3.75. Good insight to Kamala Harris — a consummate politician with a heart. Shows her strengths, weaknesses, good points and missteps. Regardless of what Kamala does, she will be criticized. She must be transparent, truthful and compassionate. Cons :: Seemed almost too pro Kamala at times, yet it did point out her faults. Everyone is human — it’s dangerous to put people on pedestal. Would have liked to seen some photos included Cover art :: 5 out of 5. Great pic of Kamala Harris

  28. 4 out of 5

    LibraryBarbara

    Tedious. Way too many facts (sorry, that sounds disrespectful of the truth). I enjoyed learning about Kamala Harris but I didn’t need to know so many dates, names, and background details regarding ancillary players in Kamala's story and there was way too much about California politics which, especially for someone living outside the US, was not so interesting. I appreciated that the author revealed both positive and negative traits of Kamala Harris, with supportive examples. Tedious. Way too many facts (sorry, that sounds disrespectful of the truth). I enjoyed learning about Kamala Harris but I didn’t need to know so many dates, names, and background details regarding ancillary players in Kamala's story and there was way too much about California politics which, especially for someone living outside the US, was not so interesting. I appreciated that the author revealed both positive and negative traits of Kamala Harris, with supportive examples.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Bea

    Excellent and insightful account of some of the driving forces that motivate Kamala Harris, our Vice President. Kamala's way is not the easy way. It is thoughtful and purposeful. She is a strong woman, make no mistake about that. She is also an ethical person. Make no mistake about that either. Because of its relatively short length and the tightness of the author's writing, this is easy and quick to read. Compelling reading. I highly recommend this book. Excellent and insightful account of some of the driving forces that motivate Kamala Harris, our Vice President. Kamala's way is not the easy way. It is thoughtful and purposeful. She is a strong woman, make no mistake about that. She is also an ethical person. Make no mistake about that either. Because of its relatively short length and the tightness of the author's writing, this is easy and quick to read. Compelling reading. I highly recommend this book.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Anthony

    Journalist Dan Morain provides a clear cut look at Kamala Harris, and her rise through the California justice system as a tough as nails prosecutor and her transition into politics as the first Black female attorney general in California history, U.S. Senator, and her short lived run for POTUS, and landing on her feet to become Joe Biden's pick as his running mate as Vice-President. Insightful read, and a behind the scenes look at the person when the lights and camera are turned off. Journalist Dan Morain provides a clear cut look at Kamala Harris, and her rise through the California justice system as a tough as nails prosecutor and her transition into politics as the first Black female attorney general in California history, U.S. Senator, and her short lived run for POTUS, and landing on her feet to become Joe Biden's pick as his running mate as Vice-President. Insightful read, and a behind the scenes look at the person when the lights and camera are turned off.

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