Gene Lyons
September 06, 1996 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Bare Knuckles and Back Rooms

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Ed Rollins, Tom DeFrank
genre
Politics and Current Events, Memoir

We gave it a B-

A writer once observed that one of the most harrowing discoveries of adult life was realizing that the same crowd who ran your high school run the world. Actually, readers of veteran Republican campaign operative Ed Rollins’ cantankerous memoir are apt to decide that things are a lot worse than that. At least in high school, there were no opinion pollsters, no PAC money, and no attack ads. In Bare Knuckles and Back Rooms, Rollins reveres Ronald Reagan but has an unkind word for almost everybody else he’s encountered along the way — from the ”superstitious and neurotic” Nancy Reagan to the ”paranoid and delusional” Ross Perot. But the nadir of his career, Rollins insists, was his unsuccessful 1994 campaign to elect vacuous multimillionaire Michael Huffington to represent California in the U.S. Senate. Working for the transplanted Texas oil heir and his ”sometimes…truly pathological” wife, Arianna, Rollins says, convinced him that he’d finally ”sold out…become a whore.” For political junkies only. B-

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