A Fighting Chance

by Elizabeth Warren

Hardcover, 2014




New York : Metropolitan, Henry Holt and Company, 2014.


A chronicle of the Massachusetts senator's two-decade career in Washington describes her childhood pursuit of an education, early exposure to the dysfunctional political process, high-risk advocacy of better bankruptcy laws and competitive run for public office.

User reviews

LibraryThing member cdogzilla
I wanted her to run for President before I read the book. Now that I've read it, I can't imagine how I'll vote for anyone else. No point recommending this to her haters, they either won't on ideological grounds, or don't read, period. Progressives who haven't read it will almost certainly be glad if they take the time. It's not Piketty's "Capital," but neither is it fluffy or dumbed-down; her discussion of how she came to study bankruptcy law, came to be on COP, fought for the Consumer Protection Agency, campaigned for Senate, and dealt with family matters along the way was compelling and added perspective to the media narrative we've all been exposed to. She's strident, and that's part of why I love her, but she's also open, humane, and humble in ways I hadn't necessarily had the chance to hear her before.… (more)
LibraryThing member cabockwrites
I found Senator Elizabeth Warren’s new memoir, A FIGHTING CHANCE, so truthful it hurt. It hurt to be told the truth: The system is rigged for those who are wealthy and well-connected, a truth that doesn’t surprise, that isn’t exactly new, but is told in an eye-opening and refreshing, and at points, damn inspiring way.

The Senator from Massachusetts tells a few stories of her life growing up scraping the bottom of the middle class barrel in Oklahoma before moving on to college with a scholarship and law school. She shares how she was drawn into bankruptcy law and eventually to Washington D.C. and the worse banking and housing crisis since the Great Depression. She talks cold turkey about politics and being a newcomer to D.C. and having the idea to form the Consumer Protection Agency, and her great disappoint at not being appointed its first director because she was “too radioactive.”.

She describes being a wife, a mother, a grandmother, and about meeting American’s across the country and asking the question: Who is the American government working for?

Ultimately, she notes, “People feel like the system is rigged against them. And here’s the painful part: They’re right. The system is rigged. Look around. Oil companies guzzle down billions in subsidies. Billionaires pay lower tax rates than their secretaries. Wall Street CEOS—the same ones who wrecked our economy and destroyed millions of jobs –still strut around Congress, no shame, demanding favors, and acting like we should thank them.” She wants to celebrate success. But she, like so many of us, doesn’t want the game to be rigged.

I had the great opportunity to see the Senator speak in D.C. and I wanted to shout out at the end, “Run, Elizabeth, Run,” and by that I mean for President. She would have my vote.
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LibraryThing member rivkat
I love Warren. She has a common-sense forthrightness that lets her communicate powerful truths in understandable language, not an easy thing for a law professor. In her autobiography, she writes with openness about many things, including the end of her first marriage, which came about because both of them expected that she’d be an ordinary helpmeet to her husband and then it turned out that she wasn’t. And I love how she makes “fighting” a big part of what she is: fighting for people who deserve better from their government, fighting against the corrupting influence of the big banks. Basically, she’s one of my heroes, and while this book won’t win any literary awards, it has what I want from her.… (more)
LibraryThing member kaulsu
Part autobiography, part memoir, this book helps explain the greed behind the banking collapse that sent our economy into a tailspin in 2008.

Preaching to the choir (I never read opposition papers; why should I expect others to do so?), I doubt Warren changes any minds. But the numbers are too big for many folks to comprehend the shameful way we have allowed lobbyists to manipulate our system. For those like me, this book broke it down into comprehendible bites.… (more)
LibraryThing member nyiper
A terrific book. I liked Elizabeth Warren a lot already but I was a little afraid that her book would be too full of terms and tables, etc., and not all that readable. But E. Warren knows how to write!!! And I'm positive she has been and continues to be a terrific teacher for the American public because she knows how to explain things. I did not want her book to end but of course she can add to it in the future but what a book---the notes fill in any questions about her comments. Everything is backed up in great but fascinating detail. I wish more people would just plain READ this---I cannot see how it would be easy to disagree with what she puts forth. In addition, the personal details she puts in about herself and her family along the way make this a delightful book to read--besides being incredibly important in this time in our history as a country.… (more)
LibraryThing member gbelik
Well, I'm willing to jump on the Elizabeth Warren bandwagon if there is one. She describes her life in a straightforward manor as she grows from a working class background, though wife and mother, on to law school, to work with the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, and then to Massachusetts senator. Her solidly liberal, compassionate ideas are just what we need more of.… (more)
LibraryThing member outdoorsman
This is a personal account of her life and her time spent in Congress. She works hard for the middle class and takes a strong stand on lobbyists. She has been on many committees and continues to fight for our right to freedom. A good book and one that would make a good book club selection.
LibraryThing member froxgirl
Of course I am a total Warren partisan, but a book has to hold my interest on its own merits, and this one does. Firstly, I enjoyed the family and dog stories and pictures. The chapters on how Elizabeth went to Washington, who brought her there (Harry Reid!)and how, and the founding of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau were thrilling. I wish there had been more about Tim Geithner, as he's got a book coming out soon, and they are sworn enemies, but I guess she needed to be civil.

This is the tenth book she has published, so it's not some ghost-written ripped-from-the-headlines piece of expedient crap. Elizabeth Warren is a good writer and a GREAT HUMAN BEING. This is a good read.
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LibraryThing member MrDickie
I checked this book out from the Crofton branch of the Anne Arundel County Maryland library. I noticed the book on display as I was going out the door. I'm glad I stopped to check it out.

The book is an account of the life of Senator Elizabeth Warren from her girlhood days in Oklahoma, through her teaching law at Harvard, to her election as Senator from Massachusetts.

If you think everything is "all right" with our country or if you think everything is "a mess" this book will open your eyes and mind to the issues "We The People" face now and in the years ahead. We all owe Elizabeth Warren a debt of gratitude for what she has accomplished to date. She is an important voice in Congress for the people of Massachusetts and the rest of us as well.
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LibraryThing member GShuk
Liked her beliefs. It showed the obstacles to change when one tries to do it via politics. An honest look at her history and what is really is involved to get elected.
LibraryThing member ajlewis2
Elizabeth Warren's story is inspiring. The writing is good with quite a bit of personal stories. Her telling of them is quite entertaining. A good deal of the book is about politics and finance with her strong opinions on these. She makes a good case for what she thinks.

LibraryThing member sdmcrae
Admired Elizabeth Warren even more than I did already after reading her book.
We need more like her in Congress.
LibraryThing member klburnside
I'm glad there are people like Elizabeth Warren in politics. She isn't afraid to make hard choices and stand up for what's right. I got the sense from this book that she is in it not for personal gain, but because she actually cares. I admire her courage, perseverance, and willingness to make personal sacrifices for the greater good.

Much of the book was about Warren's involvement in the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which got a little boring, but I also know it's very important. I slogged through the parts about meetings and legislation, but by doing so, I gained a little bit more understanding about what led to the most recent financial crisis. Nothing surprising here, but big banks make horrible, selfish decisions, give A LOT of money to politicians, who are then too afraid to do anything to help the majority of people, and often no one is held accountable when things go wrong.

I missed the viral video going around in 2011 where Warren said this...

There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own — nobody. You built a factory out there? Good for you. But I want to be clear. You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for. You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate. You were safe in your factory because of police-forces and fire-forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn't have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory — and hire someone to protect against this — because of the work the rest of us did. Now look, you built a factory and it turned into something terrific, or a great idea. God bless — keep a big hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is, you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.

I'm glad there are people like Warren who have made some important changes and are still fighting the good fight.

All that being said, I really hesitate to give this book four stars, because it wasn't that enjoyable to read, I really didn't learn that much, and I never really wanted to pick up that book...I just felt like I needed to give it four stars.
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LibraryThing member NixieH
A little to golly GE whillikers! You want ME to put on a show?!?
Very partisan only has something positive to say about republicans when she can follow it up with a negative.
Dems are almost always praised.
Complains about the lobbyists for the banks and makes it seem like it is just her and one other guy fighting them all, glosses over the lobbyists on the left.

The police comparison to her gets old quick. Did she want to be a real cop at some point? From her description it sounds like she doesn't really get what cops do.

Too much fluff -descriptions of buildings, rooms, etc. It goes along with the "lil ole me....in Washington? "

Her naïveté in how Washington works (people actually had the nerve to disagree with her!!) is either false and written in for the book or she really was clueless about how government works. Pretty scary for someone who is teaching future lawyers!

I was reading the book the whole time thinking "where did this number (or fact) come from"? I wish there were footnotes or end notes. It wasn't until I got to the end that I saw she had written notes on each chapter. Although she does give the page number for each note, while reading the book, you have no idea if there is an end note for that particular page. An indication that there was more information in the back of the book would have been helpful. I glanced through the end notes and many (not all) that I read really gave no further information just more opinion,

All in all this book reads like a giant campaign speech and not a book of substance discussing an issue. I can not decide if the author was that naive or if she wrote is such a simplistic style because she thought the reader wouldn't be able to understand. Someone is clueless, but is it the author or the targeted reader? Either way, it doesn't bode well for her.
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LibraryThing member brianinbuffalo
If you're interested in finance, the banking industry or fiscal reform, this book will be right up your alley. Warren's work is extremely informative, yet written in a way that is accessible even to readers who don't necessarily have backgrounds in finance. I do agree with some reviewers who suggest there are spots that sound a bit too much like a political stump speech or could be edited to eliminate repetition. But in general, this is a fascinating look at a complex and critically important topic.… (more)
LibraryThing member bness2
Very engaging memoir by one of the champions of the common people. I have followed Warren's rise in politics and am so thankful that she has been able to stay so on message throughout her career. She says it like it is, the economic playing field is tipped in the favor od the banks and the rich, and that needs to be changed.
LibraryThing member SqueakyChu
The reason I read this book was because I was getting overly depressed about the 2016 American presidential primary elections. As the elections progressed, the name-calling and accusations got increasingly worse. I wanted to read about a progressive politician without reading about a current election.

I loved this book. Elizabeth Warren is an amazing woman who stands for principles I believe should be the vision for my country, the United States of America. Oddly enough, Senator Warren's sentiments seem to echo exactly what presidential nominee Bernie Sanders, a Democratic Socialist, is saying, but without his repetitive stump speech clichés. I know at this date that Senator Sanders most likely will not secure a presidential nomination due to the great number of Super PAC delegates not supporting him. .

I have taken the time to look into how American presidential primaries are run and see clearly how, as Elizabeth Warren says, the system is rigged in favor of the wealthy. It gives me hope that she won the office of Massachusetts senator. It pains me to see the psychological suffering she had to endure in order to gain this office.

I very much appreciate what Senator Warren has shared with us, her readers, and wish her continued success in all of her endeavors.

"All we want is a country where everyone pays a fair share, a country where we build opportunities for all of us, a country where everyone plays by the same rules and everyone is held accountable."

Fight on, Senator Warren!
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LibraryThing member LisCarey
Elizabeth Warren reads her own memoir, and as one would expect of most politicians and most professors, she does so in a clear, strong voice that's easy to listen to.

Warren, of course, is not "most politicians," and perhaps not "most professors," either. Her first venture into electoral politics was to challenge incumbent Scott Brown, and she beat him like a drum. Not that she describes it that way; she seems to have been genuinely surprised by her margin of victory.

Warren grew up the youngest of four children, the only one still at home when her father's heart attack and subsequent impaired ability to work derailed the family's modest financial security. In spare, clear terms, she describes the struggles of the years that followed, including the plain and painful fact that her dream of going to college and becoming a school teacher were apparently killed by the fact that her parents couldn't possibly afford to send her to college. She has to rescue her own dream by finding a scholarship she could win.

And after that, nothing goes the way she expects it. Early marriage, delayed education, the frustrations of being a young mother, an almost accidental entry into teaching law. An interest in bankruptcy law inspired by her parents' struggles, and further twists and turns leading to the determination and the opportunity to create the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. From there, I suspect anyone who is interested enough to be reading this knows at least the broad outlines of how that led to her decision to run for the Senate from Massachusetts. The details, both professional and her intertwined family life, are fascinating and compelling, though.

(I'm probably revealing nothing by saying that my politics are closer to Warren's than Brown's. However, he didn't help himself with his childish and bizarre attack on Warren's Native American ancestry. I'm another nearly sheet-white, light-eyed American with a proud family history including Native American ancestry. No, Mr. Brown, you can't tell by looking at someone, and no one appointed you arbiter of who gets to talk about their ancestry.)

Warren's accounts of meeting with voters and the stresses and strains of the campaign she never expected to run are particularly compelling.


I bought this book.
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LibraryThing member MHanover10
What a fantastic book! I learned so much about the banking industry, taxes, and the bank buyout and it didn't feel like a textbook was being read to me. Elizabeth does a great job explaining what is happening with the big corporations and how the regular American citizen is getting screwed over because the banks and credit card companies are able to help write bills that help them and hurt the regular American who is struggling. It's a powerful book no matter what your political affiliation might be. We are all getting screwed by the big corporations and America needs to open their eyes up and start contacting their representatives and start speaking up or it will only get worse. I think Elizabeth is someone I would enjoy having lunch with. Or maybe I should say I wouldn't mind having a drink with her. (you will get this sentence after reading the book.)… (more)
LibraryThing member scottcholstad
I love Elizabeth Warren and have for years. Ironically, my wife does not. While I don't necessarily agree with ALL of her positions, that can be said of any politician. Meanwhile, she's got some very good ideas, ideals, platforms, etc, and she's spunky as hell and has a big spine -- she can take on just about anyone.

Sadly, she'll never be elected and I think it would be disastrous if she ran. Sadly, America is about the only civilized first world country I can think of where we're so ass backwards and socially/culturally retarded, not to say misogynistic, that I don't know if a woman can EVER be elected in this country. Reagan Republicans seemed to love Thatcher and I've heard good things about Germany's female chancellor, among others. Thatcher was a strong leader and admired for that trait by many, although her career ended with controversy, somewhat like Reagan/Bush I. Nonetheless, just as a recent example, Hillary Clinton -- who is NOT my favorite politician or person -- ran against Trump as everyone knows, AND she WON the general election by at least TWO MILLION votes, which for the second time this century (Bush/Gore) proved what a total fraud the concept of popular vote is in this country and always has been, per the Founding Fathers, who created the Electoral College under the guise of the US Everyman being too damn stupid to know who to vote for, let alone even how to vote. So, these idiots who the political bosses put in place to "represent" their constituencies sometimes do and sometimes don't, in the most recent case, voting Donald Trump into office over Clinton despite the obvious proven fact that the majority of American voters didn't want Trump to win, and thus Hillary was the lesser of two evils.

Let me tell you, I've heard all of the arguments against Hillary. Some are legit, many are total crap and ESPECIALLY when compared to probably the most unprepared, literally dead stupid, crooked, greedy lying traitor of a politician in American history. He literally knew nothing about anything when he was elected, most alarming foreign policy (and the Constitution). He immediately mistrusted, hated and ignored our intelligence agencies and has waged war against actual intelligent (sometimes), experienced experts and politicians by replacing thousands of them either with deadbeat know nothing donor cronies who want to shred the government or leaves hundreds of positions unfilled. He has praised the worst dictators and human rights abusers in the world while offending and pushing away virtually all of our traditional allies. Meanwhile, Clinton spent 8 years in the White House and actually knows a thing or two about the Constitution, statehood, and as a former Senator and Secretary of State, about a million times more than Trump could ever learn about foreign policy or anything else, for that matter. And while there are unproven rumors that she is corrupt, anyone who believes she is actually worse than an alleged pedophile who sells access to the White House and every perk asked of him to any bidder, as the easiest lay in DC, degrading the position of President unlike anything anyone has ever anticipated. I cannot understand how anyone can support that cretin, especially the damn evangelicals and fundies who finally showed their true colors in voting for one of the most immoral men in history so they could gain power and demolish the evil "liberals" and progressives, thus turning this country into a conservative oppressive theocracy -- the exact opposite of what our Founding Fathers wanted, and most likely their savior, Jesus, too.

In any event, I went on too long on that analogy, but that's how I view Warren's chances in this country. She shows she's more intelligent than most of the (Republican) men in the room, she's got good ideas, plans on how to implement them -- if the Ted Cruz's of the world would stop being traitors to the country and actually do what our former politicians always did dating back to A Jackson, and make some damn compromises, and hence, legislation, rather than destroying the country with infantile shutdowns. She'll be hated and despised because she's a strong woman who has guts, and for the life of me, I'll never understand this, but American women -- particularly the fundies -- HATE strong Democratic women -- but they show their hypocracy when they go gaga and rally around the biggest loser airhead in US political history, that Sarah person. So Warren is a great leader, a great politician, an infinitely better choice than Trump or any of the loonies on the hard right who really are little but traitors to their country, as proven by supporting Trump and Putin over the US and our Constitution. I realize this review has been more about current US politics and the dysfunctional state we're in than this book itself, but if you haven't caught on by now, I think the author and her book are great, and certainly infinitely moreso than the moron in office or anyone like him. That said, nearly any non-loony with a brain would be better than what's in office in 2020. Recommended!!!
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LibraryThing member abergsman
I rarely read memoirs, but I thoroughly enjoyed this one. I believe that Elizabeth Warren truly is a transformative leader.



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