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Newsweek/Daily Beast Writers’ Favorite Books 2011

Kathryn McGarr’s The Whole Damn Deal: Robert Strauss and the Art of Politics: Can you imagine the current chairman of the Republican Party being asked to secretly advise President Obama? Me neither. But when Nancy Reagan called Strauss, patriotism trumped partisanship. From Stamford, Texas, to the Kremlin, McGarr takes us along with Strauss on one hell of a ride.

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The Washington Post

As Kathryn J. McGarr skillfully shows, Strauss, now 93, was a vivid personality when on the stage, and fun to read about. But people like Strauss also have had a unique role in American public life, which is important to understand, and extends McGarr’s book beyond one man’s story.

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The Alcalde

In this first-ever biography of Strauss, his grandniece takes an extensive look inside the life of “Mr. Democrat” Robert S. Strauss’ powerful political presence in the 1970s. … Just as his striking charm gained the respect of both political parties, readers will be drawn to this Texan’s moxie.

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The Hill

This well-researched biography, “The Whole Damn Deal: Robert Strauss and the Art of Politics,” will do nothing to diminish that reputation. Written by his great-niece Kathryn McGarr after the 93-year-old Strauss decided to scrap his own ghostwritten memoir, the book ably chronicles his colorful and truly remarkable life…

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“Think” with Krys Boyd

Just how long have Texans been important in national politics? We’ll spend this hour with journalist and author Kathryn J. McGarr, who profiles the influential career of one 1970s Texas power broker in her new book “The Whole Damn Deal: Robert Strauss and the Art of Politics” (Public Affairs, 2011).

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Austin-American Statesman

They don’t make power brokers like Robert Strauss anymore. … “The Whole Damn Deal” seems particularly timely in this era of polarized politics, when few — if any — public servants can adeptly navigate both sides of the aisle in Congress.

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NBC Dallas-Ft. Worth

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The Dallas Morning News

For many years, friends and associates of Robert Strauss have unsuccessfully urged the legendary Dallas lawyer-politician to write his memoirs or cooperate on a biography.

Now, it’s been done — by Strauss’ great-niece Kathryn McGarr. A Dallas native and Stanford graduate in her 20s, she initially wrote on Strauss for a class project at Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism and has expanded that into a full-fledged biography.

Unsurprisingly, the result is a largely favorable view of the man she calls “Uncle Bob.” Based mainly on Strauss’ interviews with a previous prospective biographer, writer Peter Ross Range, supplemental conversations with him, and interviews with close Strauss associates, she has produced a vivid, accurate account that captures the flavor of this colorful, outspoken Texan, often in his own words.

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Hardball With Chris Matthews

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The Weekly Standard

Kathryn McGarr brings sprightly writing and strong narrative drive to her tale, which represents a valuable contribution to the ledger of Washington life in the waning decades of the 20th century….Throughout his quarter-century on the Washington scene, Strauss clearly was a man of his time and milieu: more powerful than many, more effective than most, and more amusing and heartwarming than just about anybody. He operated in a time that is long gone now, but well worth remembering.

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Michael Beschloss

Kathryn McGarr’s absorbing book reads like The Making of the President meets Dallas. Well-researched and written, judicious in its judgments, bursting with new stories, it gives us a well-rounded and unforgettable portrait of Robert Strauss as family man, lawyer, businessman, politician and statesman.

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Jim Lehrer

Bob Strauss is one of a kind. This is the story of a man who changed everything he touched – people, ideas, and ideals. Nobody who spends moments with The Whole Damn Deal will have a dull one, I promise. A delightful book about a delightful character who did delightful things for his country and for everyone around him.

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Cokie Roberts

By interviewing everyone from presidents to party leaders to members of the press, Kathryn McGarr gives us an inside look at behind-the-scenes wheeling and dealing as politicians made policy and fought campaigns through the last half of the twentieth century. But better yet she uses Bob Strauss’s own, often salty words to give us true insight into one of the most effective.

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The American Prospect

Kathryn McGarr’s new biography of Robert Strauss — Democratic macher, superlawyer, and certified D.C. Wise Man — could not be more timely. Since the tea-stained Republican takeover of the House and return of government gridlock, Washington pundits have been dreaming of an old-style bipartisan deal-maker who can bring political adversaries to the table and hash out difficult compromises in private.

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