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In the Arena

A Memoir of Love, War, and Politics
Chuck Robb. Foreword by Bill Clinton
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BUY Cloth · 392 pp. · 6.13 × 9.25 · ISBN 9780813946108 · $34.95 · Apr 2021
BUY Ebook · 392 pp. · ISBN 9780813946115 · $34.95 · Apr 2021

In December 1967, Chuck Robb was catapulted onto the national scene when he married Lynda Bird Johnson, the daughter of President Lyndon B. Johnson, in a nationally broadcast White House wedding. Shortly thereafter, Robb, a U.S. Marine, deployed to Vietnam, where he commanded India Company of the 3rd Battalion, 7th Regiment, and was awarded the Bronze Star. These two experiences—seemingly polar opposites—illustrate much about the eventual Virginia governor and U.S. senator, who combined a commitment to family with an ingrained sense of civic duty on the national stage.

In the Arena offers the first political memoir of the noted statesman’s extraordinary life, tracing his path from early days as an anonymous Marine to his fairytale wedding, from night movements in Vietnam to engaging in the height of Democratic politics in the Virginia state capitol and U.S. Senate, and from experiencing personal highs and lows to becoming a principled fighter and exemplar of today’s moderate Democrat.

Despite representing a conservative state, he stood up for a woman’s right to choose, the Equal Rights Amendment, the constitutionality of flag burning, gay rights, and gun control. As governor, Robb raised the education budget by over $1 billion and appointed a record number of women and minorities to state positions, including the first African American to the Virginia Supreme Court. In 1996, in his second term in the Senate, he was the only southern senator to vote against the Defense of Marriage Act, the legislation banning gay marriage, calling the movement to end this discrimination a "fight for civil and human rights." Progressive on social issues, he was fiscally conservative and pro–national security, going on to co-chair the 2006 WMD Commission under George W. Bush. Looking back from our deeply partisan era, Robb’s independent approach now seems remarkable, as well as instructive.

Full of honest reflections, In the Arena pulls back the curtain on one of America's proven political leaders and reveals the surprisingly colorful story of his career, marriage, and life.

Reviews:


In my lifetime, few have served our country as ably and honorably as Chuck Robb. His quiet dedication to doing what he believed was right will inspire readers of this book—including a younger generation of Americans who will take up that challenge he posed to us all: get into the arena.

President Bill Clinton from the Foreword

Because of Chuck Robb, America is freer and fairer, smarter and stronger. His service has been selfless and fearless, and we are all better for it. In this book, Sen. Robb tells the tale of a life spent in devotion to causes larger than himself. His contributions are vast, his stories are riveting. This is an essential book for anyone who wants to understand how we got here as a nation, where we are going, and why public service can be a noble enterprise.

Paul Begala

I have been the recipient of great advice from Chuck Robb as I followed him into the Virginia Governor's office and the U.S. Senate. Abounding with life and leadership lessons, In the Arena gives everyone the chance to learn from this patriotic, talented, courageous and humble man.

Senator Tim Kaine

From his deployment as a Marine officer in Vietnam to his work investigating one of the most catastrophic intelligence failures in the history of the United States, Chuck Robb has demonstrated uncommon courage and conviction throughout his remarkable career. As an elected official, he worked to promote greater fairness and opportunity, defended human rights, and advocated fiercely for American engagement around the world. Robb’s life is a story of true public service and there is much that every American can learn from it.

Former Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright

Chuck Robb seems to have been at a convergence of so much that defines the '60s and indeed our world today. This is an honest and moving testament to value, hard work, and working toward consensus.

Ken Burns

In a life dedicated to public service, from Vietnam to the U.S. Senate, Chuck Robb has been an exemplar of thoughtful, wise leadership. His consistent willingness in multiple roles to put the interests of our country and its citizens above politics places him in rare company. He truly has been a man in the arena. His life story is an inspiring one and a needed reminder in our polarized time of what a servant leader looks like.

Robert M. Gates, U.S. Secretary of Defense 2006-2011

Chuck Robb opened up seats at the table to women and African Americans and moved Virginia into a new era of prosperity. This book shows how a leader with conviction can lead a quiet revolution.

Governor Terry McAuliffe

About the Author(s): 

Chuck Robb served as the 64th Governor of Virginia from 1982 to 1986 and as a United States Senator from 1989 until 2001.

 
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