Pulse: 60-Second Critic: Memoir: Taking the Hill

Review of Taking the Hill: From Philly to Baghdad to the United States Congress by Patrick J. Murphy

Pat Murphy’s story would seem pretty compelling: Blue-collar kid from the Northeast works his way through college and law school, joins the military and goes to Iraq, then comes home and wins an underdog run for Congress in Bucks County, hoping to right the wrong-headed policy he saw carried out overseas. Unfortunately, on the page, Murphy’s saga falls well short of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington heroics. The details of his climb turn out to be rather banal, and his self-congratulatory “toughness” and lack of sophistication about the world — there’s hardly an interesting idea or observation in the entire book — make him hard to root for. Murphy may turn out to be a decent Congressman, and may one day have a good book in him. That day isn’t here yet. C+