Books: Ron Brown: An Uncommon Life

By Steven A. Holmes

This astutely reported account of the rise of the late Secretary of Commerce from Harlem's black bourgeoisie to the apex of political power is a warts-and-all portrait of a smooth operator. Holmes, a former TIME correspondent and now the chief race-relations reporter for the New York Times, notes that Brown's strength was making connections between the black world he sprang from and the white power structure. His weakness, which Holmes unflinchingly describes, was an inability to resist the financial and sexual rewards that came along as he clawed his way to the top.

--By Jack E. White

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