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Here be Dragons

July 5, 2017

It’s not often that you find out that the person who is running for congress in your district has written a book (not often enough, certainly), so when I found out that Ken Harbaugh, who is running for Ohio district 7 against our current congressman, has written a book with his wife Annmarie, I had to read it.

The title of their book is Here be Dragons, and the subtitle is “A Parent’s Guide to Rediscovering Purpose, Adventure, and the Unfathomable Joy of the Journey,” so I’m not its primary audience, with my kids already grown (it did give me heart about Walker’s current adventure in Siberia, though).

Annmarie and Ken take turns writing chapters, and at the beginning Annmarie’s chapters are a little better written. The beginning is where they tell stories about their adventures before children, though, and it sounds like she was more of a writer than he was, at that point.

Mostly I enjoyed the insights into their characters. Ken talks about being a stay-at-home dad for a few months while Annmarie was taking graduate courses and he observes:
“I typically handled the little stuff, too, the doctor’s appointments and trips to the zoo. I noticed the same thing everywhere I went. Dads always seem to get the benefit of the doubt. Like with socks. I have never been good at matching them….So whenever I got Katie dressed for a public outing, she looked like a little clown. ‘How lovely, people said.
This drove Annmarie nuts. ‘You know what people would think if I did that?’ she asked.
‘That you had no fashion sense,’ I replied.
‘No,’ she said. ‘They’d think I was a bad mother.’”

I liked the parts about all the different kinds of work Ken has done, from his time in the military to a consulting job in Saskatchewan where he “got to do things most high-paid business consultants never get to do, like weld steel brackets while halfway down a mile-deep mineshaft” to being in charge of Team Rubicon, coordinating aid efforts around the world with other military veterans. At one point, Ken tells a story about trying to get aid to a village in the Phillipines after a typhoon and seeing first-hand “a clear example of bureaucracy getting in the way of meaningful help,” which should be reassuring to Ohioans who voted in favor of “draining the swamp.”

And of course I liked the parts where Annmarie talks about reading, especially when she talks about rereading Jane Eyre and what she had to learn from the book when she reread it as a young mother: “she possessed honor, strength, a quiet dignity, and a willingness to sacrifice her own happiness for that of another person. Instead of the mousy orphan I remembered, Jane seemed quite independent, even brave.”

The best part for parents, and also for Ohioans who could vote to be represented by a man who thinks this way, is about why they teach their kids to look for opportunities to hike and camp and see new vistas before them:
“It can be exhausting to teach our kids adventure, but it is more frustrating still to teach them complacency. I want our kids to comfort the broken, defend the weak, and minister to those in need. These are not always natural acts. They require confidence and bravery.”

Annmarie explains the title of their book at the end, and as a parent who has already raised two children, this rings true to me:
“In our collective efforts to keep our kids safe, loved, and entertained, we raise them within trusted trade routes. We settle into the familiar rhythm of soccer in the fall, baseball in the spring, and just the right camps every summer. Before we know it, our children are on track for college or the workforce before they ever had the chance to wonder, wander, or tame dragons….when we routinely script our children’s joy, we are taking something from them. All the paths are named. All the laughter is canned. We risk sending kids into the world without any real adventures, without ever having the chance to navigate open water.”

The more I find out about Ken Harbaugh and his family, the happier I am that he is willing to represent my district. I’m hoping he gets lots of votes on November 6, 2018.

Have you ever read a book by someone who became a politician? Was it any good?

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. July 5, 2017 2:22 pm

    I can’t say I have read anything by anyone who became a politician. But I like this guy and his wife. I think they have a lot to offer. I wish us all well in 2018:)

    • July 5, 2017 3:24 pm

      Yes, a lot to offer. As opposed to taking, which is what our current “representative” seems to do.

  2. July 5, 2017 3:10 pm

    This is the first I’m hearing of Ken Harbaugh, but he sounds like a great candidate (I checked out the link you included).

    • July 5, 2017 3:26 pm

      I think he is a great candidate! He’s not perfect (his views on a couple of issues don’t align exactly with mine) but he’s just about the best I’ve seen.

  3. July 14, 2017 9:37 am

    Hi Jeanne!! Congrats! You are the winner to my twitter giveaway! Please check your twitter account and send me a direct message of your address so that the book can be sent out to you!! Thanks for joining in my giveaway!

    • July 14, 2017 10:05 am

      Yay! Just in time for my convalescence reading. There will probably be a review of What She Ate, by Laura Shapiro, to follow.

      • July 14, 2017 10:11 am

        That’s great! I hope you will get well soon! I can’t wait to see what you think of the book 🙂

      • July 14, 2017 1:32 pm

        I got your address. Expect to receive this book from Penguin 🙂

  4. July 14, 2017 9:48 pm

    I can’t say I’ve read any books by someone who has become a politician, but I have suspicions that J.D.Vance (author of Hillbilly Elegy) might become one.

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