Robert S. Strauss was for many decades the quintessential Democratic power broker. Born to a poor Jewish family in West Texas, he founded the law firm that became Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld, and—while forever changing the nature of the Washington law firm—worked as chairman of the Democratic National Committee, special trade representative, ambassador to the Soviet Union and then Russia, and an advisor to presidents. As former first lady Barbara Bush wrote of Strauss in her memoir: “He is absolutely the most amazing politician. He is everybody’s friend and, if he chooses, could sell you the paper off your own wall.”
But it isn’t the positions Strauss held that make his story fascinating; it is what he represented about the culture of Washington in his day. He was a master of the art of knowing everyone who mattered and getting things done. Based on exclusive access to Strauss, The Whole Damn Deal brings to life a vanished epoch of working behind the scenes, political deal making, and successful bipartisanship in Washington.