I am writing to protest Paul Mills’ two so-called book reviews (Aug. 7 and Sept. 4, Sun Journal) of “Statesman,” the recent full length biography of Sen. George Mitchell, written by Douglas Rooks.

I was on Mitchell’s staff in 1974 (unsuccessful campaign for governor), and on his Senate staff throughout from 1982 through 1994. I have a doctorate in American History and have read more than a hundred biographies, mostly of scientists, explorers and politicians. I regard the lengthy Douglas Rooks biography of Mitchell as a masterful work that does justice to one of this country’s greatest leaders and human beings.

It is a shame that Mills’ attempt at a review fails to see the forest, instead, focusing on a few small trees. The book begins with many events in Maine’s political history since 1950 or so and then turns to the national scene where Mitchell, as Senator, dealt with just about all of the important issues. Author Rooks unraveled so many complexities and interviewed so many political and other actors that it is no wonder he missed publication deadlines.

The book also includes Mitchell’s roles after he left the Senate. A short list of his activities and accomplishments includes finally obtaining a settlement of the centuries-old Irish-British conflict, nearly obtaining an Israeli-Palestinian peace accord, saving baseball (as we know it) by convincing owners of the need to preserve competitive leagues through team revenue sharing, conducting the probe of steroid use by baseballs players, deciding which families should get how much from massive funds donated to dependents of those who were killed in the 9/11 attack, chairing the world’s largest international law firm and later the Walt Disney Corp. Each chapter explores, in depth, the processes and conflicts pertaining to these and other matters.

But almost none of these and other matters are even mentioned in those so-called two reviews by Mills. Instead, I read several of his hardly warranted value judgments.

Mills concludes his peevish comments with “it’s not too early, however, to hopefully adjust some of the focus and misapprehensions on which the book is based …”

I would say to Mills, that fine biography is not “based” on “misapprehensions.” Rather, it is based on revealing the conflicts, character and intelligence of George Mitchell as he wrestled with so many of this nation’s (and the world’s) most complex problems and doing so with the integrity and ability that nearly everyone who dealt with him acknowledged, whether friend or foe.

Clyde MacDonald, Hampden


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