Graham E-Book Recalls Childhood, Military Service

Graham E-Book Recalls Childhood, Military Service
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Lindsey Graham spent his youth entertaining customers at his parents’ bar, told a high school teacher that he wanted to be governor one day, and as a lawyer helped win the largest malpractice suit in South Carolina history, according to his just released autobiography. “My Story,” a 126-page e-book, details the upbringing and pre-politics law career of the Republican presidential candidate.

In the prologue of “My Story,” which is downloadable for free on his campaign’s website, Graham explains why he chose not to focus on his political career. “I thought it was better to take a more impressionistic approach to the material, so to speak, just a glance back at the experiences that most influenced the course of my life for good or ill,” he writes. “I haven’t included an account of my congressional career. I’ve produced only what you might call my backstory, which ends with my election to Congress.”

The book retraces his childhood in the South Carolina town of Central, where his parents ran the Sanitary Cafe, “a combination beer joint, restaurant, liquor store and pool hall” that required black customers to consume their drinks off the premises until the early 1970s. In high school, Graham was a four-sport athlete, although he notes that “my estimation of my athletic ability exceeded others’ assessment.” His mother died while he was an undergrad at the University of South Carolina, and his father passed away soon afterward. That left much of the care of the family business, along with the support of his younger sister, to Graham while he attended law school and later served in the Air Force JAG Corps.

Graham devotes almost a quarter of the book to his experience in the military, where he details his involvement fighting the Air Force’s use of flawed drug tests to discharge servicemen and -women. “No system is perfect, but these were instances when wrongdoing was exposed, and David defeated the bureaucratic Goliath,” he says.

Only the 11-page final chapter addresses Graham’s political career, where he credits “lucky timing” and his campaign team’s “hustle” to winning races for the South Carolina House of Representatives in 1992 and the U.S. House of Representatives in 1994. He was elected to the first of his three Senate terms in 2002.

Although he mentions a few girlfriends, he attributes his bachelorhood to timing, as well: “The opportunity never presented itself at the right time, or I never found time to meet the right girl, or the right girl was smart enough not to have time for me. I haven’t been lucky that way. But I have a family.”

Many of the other presidential candidates have published autobiographies, but Graham joins a much smaller club in releasing “My Story” for free online (his campaign underwrote its publication). Among the list of other current candidate memoirs are Ben Carson’s “One Nation: What We Can All Do to Save America’s Future,” which had sold about 360,000 copies as of late May; Hillary Clinton’s 656-page “Hard Choices,” which had sold 260,000 hardcover copies as of the same date; and Mike Huckabee’s “God, Guns, Grits, and Gravy,” 65,000 copies as of late May.

Along with from the 2013 release of “Immigration Wars: Forging an American Solution,” Jeb Bush’s canon includes the first chapter of an e-book that charts his years as governor via email exchanges. Rand Paul’s “Taking a Stand: Moving Beyond Partisan Politics to Unite America” hit the shelves on May 26, and Ted Cruz’s “A Time for Truth: Reigniting the Miracle of America” is set for a June 30 release.

Many works in this genre have had meager sales. Among the notable commercial failures from the last presidential election was Tim Pawlenty's “Courage to Stand: An American Story.” Also as of late May, Marco Rubio’s “American Dreams: Restoring Economic Opportunity for Everyone” (released in January) and Carly Fiorina’s “Rising to the Challenge: My Leadership Journey” (released in May) had sold approximately 7,000 and 1,000 copies, respectively.

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