While politicians are busy talking up ”family values” this year, Marian Wright Edelman has actually got the nation reading about them. In the 97 pages of her best-selling The Measure of Our Success: A Letter to My Children and Yours, Edelman, 53, offers ”Twenty Five Lessons for Life.” Drawing upon her experience as the daughter of a Baptist minister in segregated South Carolina, as the first black woman to practice law in Mississippi, as a wife and mother, and as founder and head of the Children’s Defense Fund — a nonprofit research and lobbying organization dedicated to improving the well-being of the nation’s children — Edelman has heartened a good many Americans.
Her book, now in its eighth printing (230,000 copies), has spent 11 weeks on the best-seller lists and fetched its publisher, Beacon Press, an impressive $425,000 for paperback rights. Edelman’s life lessons are short (No. 13: Be confident that you can make a difference; No. 19: Try to live in the present) and they don’t preach so much as inspire. At least one politician’s wife seems responsive. ”This book is from the heart of a woman who practices each lesson she preaches,” says Hillary Clinton, a Defense Fund board member. ”It struck a deep chord in me as a mother trying to raise a daughter in difficult times.”