Form and Content
In Barbara Jordan: A Self-Portrait, the former United States congresswoman from Texas collaborated with a novelist to create a multifaceted approach to the politician’s life story. With Shelby Hearon’s background and Jordan’s simple, conversational style, the book reads like a novel. In addition, the alternating movement between the objective, third-person narrative sections provided by the former and the frank, detailed, first-person account provided by the latter replicates the feel of a documentary film, as if interspersing comment on the subject with actual footage of the subject—Jordan—herself.
This novelistic impression is accentuated by the book’s format, which is divided into three sections progressing from “Black World” to “White World” to “World.” These sections are further divided into a total of nine chapters, with simple titles reflecting the important people, places, or stages of Jordan’s life. They trace her family influences, her Houston childhood, her entry into debate and then law, and her quick movement up the ladders of Texan and national politics. The sections are introduced with inspiring quotes from Jordan herself. The book contains neither a table of contents, nor an index, nor a bibliography.
A brief preface describing the genesis of Hearon and Jordan’s collaboration sets the tone for the book, which resembles a dialogue between two parallel versions of the same story. In the...
(The entire section is 479 words.)