“Shortest Way Home: One Mayor’s Challenge and a Model for America’s Future” by Pete Buttigieg— An Inspirational Story

Buttigieg, Pete. “Shortest Way Home: One Mayor’s Challenge and a Model for America’s Future”, Liveright, 2019.

An Inspirational Story

Amos Lassen

“Shortest Way Home is mayor Pete Buttigieg inspirational story of a Midwest city that has become nothing less than a blueprint for the future of American renewal. The Washington Post has described him as “the most interesting mayor you’ve never heard of.” Pete Buttigieg is the thirty-six-year-old Democratic mayor of South Bend, Indiana, has emerged as one of the nation’s most visionary politicians. He was first elected in 2011; Buttigieg left a successful business career to move back to his hometown, which had been tagged by Newsweek as a “dying city”. It was a challenge to the McKinsey-trained Harvard graduate. Whether meeting with city residents on middle-school basketball courts, reclaiming abandoned houses, confronting gun violence, or attracting high-tech industry, Buttigieg has transformed South Bend and it is now a model of urban reinvention.

The book brings together two once-unthinkable success stories— one of an Afghanistan veteran who came out as a gay man and found love and acceptance while in office, and that of a Rust Belt city so thoroughly transformed that it shatters the way we view America’s so-called flyover country.

 The book is personal and sensitive in the way the author talks about coming out and getting married. We get an idea that Buttigieg might be the nation’s first openly gay president without it sounding like a crazy idea.

Buttigieg explains what mayors do and offers ideas for the country as a whole and we see that his memoir is also a policy manual . It positions a candidate nationally as we understand just who he is— gay, military veteran, liberal, first-generation American, etc.) and this suggests an interesting political future. We read of the events that shaped Buttigieg’s biggest decisions and share a typical day in the mayor’s office; we relive Buttigieg’s tour of duty in Afghanistan (while he was still acting mayor); and we understand his angst over being a young, gay public figure trying to get a date. The story is extraordinary and filled with great insights into the politics of this country. The writer is candid and compassionate with a clear understanding of how government can be more effective. We see  that Pete Buttigieg is not only a key political figure in his generation, but also an appealing and even funny writer. “His work is an important entry in the American political tradition for the twenty-first century. “He has given more to his community and country before his 40th birthday than most of us can do over the course of our lives. At every crossroads, he has turned towards service and leveraged his energy and intellect to help his neighbors and fellow citizens.” Joe Kennedy III says that we “not  only learn about what brings him home, but also what drives him towards his vision of a better, kinder nation.”

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