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Molly Ivins: A Rebel Life

Originally posted on Tue, Jun 01 2010 at ROPL.org.

Primarily known for her columns, Molly Ivins was not born a columnist, even though she did long to write from a young age . In Bill Minutaglio & W. Michael Smith’s engrossing biography, Molly Ivins: A Rebel Life, we are allowed to step inside her life. She was born in California, but grew up in Texas, which is when most of the world met her.

Before I picked up the book, all I knew about Ivins was that she was a journalist from Texas who didn’t seem to like former President George W. Bush and had died of cancer. When I finished the book, it was as though I’d been living her life along with her. Minutaglio and Smith’s writing and story telling turns A Rebel Life into more than just the story of a woman’s life and death.

We learn of an ambitious woman who was writing up until the moment she died. Ivins’ life was filled with challenges, from the death of the man she called her true love to the alcohol and smoking that would cause her many problems through the years. We also discover, as Minutaglio and Smith tells us, that there were two things she wanted most — to write and to help people, mostly friends, but also people she barely knew.

A Rebel Life is, at it’s heart, about a successful liberal journalist who grew up and lived in Texas, left and then came roaring back. But it’s also the story of Ivins’ rebellion against her parents, her attempts to break into the world of serious journalism (for example, by writing for the New York Times), and how, by the end of her career, any paper who hired her was lucky to have her. Ivins’ biography is about an extraordinary woman speaking her mind and a moving, often heartbreaking, book.

Books by Molly Ivins

You got to dance with them what brung you: politics in the Clinton years
Shrub: the short but happy political life of George W. Bush
Bushwhacked: life in George W. Bush’s America
Who let the dogs in?: incredible political animals I have known
Bill of wrongs: the executive branch’s assault on America’s fundamental rights

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