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What Color Is a Conservative?: My Life and My Politics

Author: J.C. Watts
Publisher: HarperCollins • 2003 • 320 pages

In this forthright and up-by-the-bootstraps memoir, Oklahoma Congressman Watts charts his personal experiences, his political beliefs and aspirations and his abiding faith. “Mine wasn’t a Norman Rockwell childhood. There were too many black faces, too much poverty, and too little opportunity,” he writes.

Nonetheless, Watts’s stories of growing up in tiny Eufaula, Oklahoma, with his close-knit, high-spirited family of eight offer plenty of touching moments. He recalls playing for the University of Oklahoma and the Canadian Football League, and shares political war stories complete with digs at the “hollow rhetoric” of Democrats, liberals and black leaders who call Watts a traitor, and for whom “group identity is more important than individual principles.”

The fourth-ranking Republican in Congress emphasizes his desire to imbue his constituents-as well as those beyond his district’s borders-with a feeling of trust in his party, and to affect an increased affinity for its political positions and ideals. Of politicking and partisanship, Watts says that new models of cooperation are needed, between government and private organizations, secular or not, and that “if we have the will to change, we will change lives for the better.”

Book Review from Publishers Weekly

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