The excitement of being chosen by Minnesota Senator Walter F. Mondale as his vice-presidential running mate is conveyed in early chapters that culminate in her well-received nomination speech at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. Ferraro never seriously considered herself as a candidate, but, as the contenders--San Francisco mayor Dianne Feinstein, Texas senator Lloyd Bentsen, Los Angeles mayor Tom Bradley, Philadelphia mayor Wilson Goode, and Kentucky governor Martha Layne Collins--dwindled away and her selection became assured, the awesome scope of her task sobered the inexperienced congresswoman and former Queens district attorney.

Ferraro details the anxious moments she had as the Mondale camp inquired into Ferraro-Zarraco finances and discusses the psychological effect that national visibility had on her family.

With background chapters on her experiences in Congress and the rise of women in American politics, the story climaxes with Mondale’s phone call: “Will you be my running mate?” Her answer was: “That would be terrific. I want you to know, Fritz, that I am deeply honored.”

Ill at ease in national politics and set back by accusations about her husband’s finances, Ferraro and her campaign lost direction. Her account of her spirited defense of her family’s tax returns and religion, the debate with George Bush, and arguments with New York Archbishop John O’Connor make the landslide defeat seem anticlimactic.

The book’s interest lies in a family’s odyssey toward political maturity and the ascent of women into the mainstream of power. We see behind the well-rehearsed facade of political campaigns into the dynamics of the selection process. The enthusiasm of men and women trying to make democracy work in spite of its dismaying imperfections is encouraging.