Granholm Mulhern Associates

Detroit Free Press Book review: The saga of Jennifer Granholm and Dan Mulhern

9/18/11- Book review: The saga of Jennifer Granholm and Dan Mulhern

BRIAN DICKERSON and LAURA BERMAN, who just marked their third wedding anniversary, are longtime columnists for the Detroit Free Press and the Detroit News, respectively. Both have written frequently about the Granholm administration and its travails. Today they share their thoughts about the new memoir by former Gov. Jennifer Granholm and her husband, Dan Mulhern.

BRIAN DICKERSON: Let’s get straight to the weirdest thing about this book: The cover lists two authors, but the title suggests that it’s one person’s story — the governor’s — and it’s told entirely in the first-person singular (I, not we). Except for the introduction, in which an unidentified, third person narrator explains that “Dan insisted that the book be written in Jennifer’s voice, and she insisted that he be listed as coauthor.”

What are readers supposed to make of all this? Are Jennifer Granholm and Dan Mulhern the same person, like Clark Kent and Superman?

LAURA BERMAN: Actually, I think they’re two people, working hard at partnership.

BRIAN: One of the things readers might expect to learn from this book is how influential Mulhern really was. Plenty of people — jealous insiders as well as political adversaries — have portrayed him as playing Rasputin to Granholm’s Empress Alexandra, invisibly manipulating affairs of state from somewhere offstage. In her telling, he comes off more like a Yoda to her Luke Skywalker.

LAURA: “Listen to the Force!” He’s the spiritual one, handing her self-help books and doses of wisdom. What’s clear is that he has sacrificed more than he bargained for, helping her to have the career he once wished for himself. But he’s wonderfully graceful — in her voice, of course — about having made that sacrifice, and honest about some of the discomfort he feels. He comes off, in the end, as more soccer mom than Svengali. They share star billing on the cover, but she’s the action hero.

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