Lamb, Scott. Huckabee: The Authorized Biography. Nasville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2015. 336 pp. $24.99. Purchase at Amazon and on Kindle for less.
This is Scott Lamb’s second biography. His first was co-authored with Tim Ellsworth and was entitled Pujols: More than the Game and third book overall as he coauthored Whatever the Cost with David and Jason Benham. Scott currently serves as the executive director of the Presbyterian Lay Committee and is the president of Reformation Press in Nashville. He is also a personal friend of mine and operates a website to which I sometimes contribute. It is called A Christian Manifesto.
Mike Huckabee is most noted for being a politician. You can read more about Mike at his website.
From the publisher’s description:
For the first time, the former governor of Arkansas opens up the vault to friend and biographer W. Scott Lamb to tell his life story. In this thoroughly unique biography of one of the most likeable, influential leaders in America, Lamb covers the entire scope of Mike Huckabee’s life and career. With full, unfettered access to Governor Huckabee’s personal library, files, and family records, fans will finally get the definitive account of one humble man’s rise to political prominence.
Readers are introduced to young Michael Dale Huckabee, son of a local fireman in Hope, Arkansas. Huckabee would soon share the same grade school teacher as Bill Clinton, who is nine years his senior. Huckabee’s collegiate aspirations took him to Ouachita Baptist University, where he graduated in two and a half years and met his future wife, Janet. Huckabee also honed his musical talents, becoming a bass player and forming the band Capitol Offense. Later he would also serve at the side of television personality James Robison during the early years of his television ministry. He hit his ministerial stride in the early 1980s, when he took the helm of Immanuel Baptist Church in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, from 1980 to 1986.
Most people, however, know Mike Huckabee as a politician. In 1994, he became lieutenant governor and faced the now infamous Whitewater scandal that sent then-governor Jim Guy Tucker into court to face felony charges of corruption and fraud. In the interim Huckabee decided to run for governor, but not before Tucker would change his mind at the eleventh hour and cause a statewide constitutional crisis that challenged Huckabee to the core. Huckabee’s courageous handling of the debacle endeared him to the hearts of many citizens, causing him to serve as the forty-fourth governor of Arkansas from 1996 until 2007.
Huckabee also takes a good look at other difficult decisions he faced. In 2000 he granted clemency to prisoner Maurice Clemmons, who, while on parole, moved to Washington State and murdered four policemen in 2009. Huckabee was forced to field question after question about this case during his 2008 presidential bid—a race in which he finished second to John McCain.
Today, Mike Huckabee is known for his television program on the Fox News channel and as a potential contender for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016. His many fans will now have the opportunity to get to know the man behind the famous, reassuring smile.
The first thing I noticed as I read this book is how much better the writing style was compared to his bio on Pujols. It is obvious how much Scott has grown as an author. One aspect of this growth is the creative way in which he titled the chapters. Playing off of Mike’s love of music, every single chapter is a song title.
Yet another way Scott has grown is his interlacing of current and past information seamlessly and effortlessly throughout the bio in order to show how events from Mike’s past shaped who he is today. It will also be of interest to the reader that much of Huckabee’s political thinking was forged in his youth and in his calling to itinerant gospel preaching. Nonetheless, Huckabee continues to think critically through a biblical worldview today as the culture is ever changing.
He also shows how other cultural phenomena (like Woodstock, the Apollo missions, Vietnam, etc.) shaped Mike’s understanding of the culture and what he thought was a proper response. Furthermore, and Mike Huckabee has never been shy about this, we see how his faith and his salvation has been ground zero for everything he does as a politician and as a man. I write in that order because for most people, they will pick up this biography because they know Huckabee as a politician. What they will find is that he is a genuine man and truly what you see is what you get.
This is lost on most today as the basic assumption of all politicians being liars and cheats is held by most in the public. Lamb even traces this back to the Watergate Scandal with Richard Nixon. While Lamb does offer a favorable view of Mike Huckabee, this is not because he wants to paint a different picture than the public persona we all know. Instead, he offers a favorable view of Huckabee because that is simply who the guy is.
He is not perfect, and you will quickly understand that as you read the biography. What you will find is a trustworthy man who has a calling to a public office that many do not. You will also discover a man who tells it like it is even if it is not popular.
If you are interested in biographies, you will thoroughly enjoy this one. If you are a fan of Mike Huckabee, then this is must reading. Regardless, to be able to peer behind the curtain and see what makes a man tick is always interesting. To see that the person you know in public, especially if he is more famous, is the same person in private is quite rare. Mike Huckabee is a rare man. Scott Lamb shows us why.