In the Arena: A Memoir of Love, War, and Politics

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University of Virginia Press, Apr 20, 2021 - Biography & Autobiography - 392 pages

In December 1967, Chuck Robb was catapulted onto the national scene when he married Lynda Bird Johnson, the daughter of President Lyndon B. Johnson, in a nationally broadcast White House wedding. Shortly thereafter, Robb, a U.S. Marine, deployed to Vietnam, where he commanded India Company of the 3rd Battalion, 7th Regiment, and was awarded the Bronze Star. These two experiences—seemingly polar opposites—illustrate much about the eventual Virginia governor and U.S. senator, who combined a commitment to family with an ingrained sense of civic duty on the national stage.

In the Arena offers the first political memoir of the noted statesman’s extraordinary life, tracing his path from early days as an anonymous Marine to his fairytale wedding, from night movements in Vietnam to engaging in the height of Democratic politics in the Virginia state capitol and U.S. Senate, and from experiencing personal highs and lows to becoming a principled fighter and exemplar of today’s moderate Democrat.

Despite representing a conservative state, he stood up for a woman’s right to choose, the Equal Rights Amendment, the constitutionality of flag burning, gay rights, and gun control. As governor, Robb raised the education budget by over $1 billion and appointed a record number of women and minorities to state positions, including the first African American to the Virginia Supreme Court. In 1996, in his second term in the Senate, he was the only southern senator to vote against the Defense of Marriage Act, the legislation banning gay marriage, calling the movement to end this discrimination a "fight for civil and human rights." Progressive on social issues, he was fiscally conservative and pro–national security, going on to co-chair the 2004 WMD Commission under George W. Bush. Looking back from our deeply partisan era, Robb’s independent approach now seems remarkable, as well as instructive.

Full of honest reflections, In the Arena pulls back the curtain on one of America's proven political leaders and reveals the surprisingly colorful story of his career, marriage, and life.


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A New Challenge
The Most Exclusive Club
Distant Lands Faraway Lives
Issues of War and Peace
A National Soap Opera
The Tale of the Tape
Against the Tide
Guns Gays and Old Glory

Returning Home
A Growing Family
Larger than Life
The New Dominion
Stepping into the Fray
A Future Worthy of Her Past
No Higher Honor
The Democracy of Opportunity
The Aristocracy of Merit
The Long Hot Summer
Clean Sweep
National Exposure
Sacred Cows
An Imperfect Candidate
Taking a Stand
A Passion Play
Against the Wind
Free at Last
The Green Zone
Over the Horizon
Always a Marine

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About the author (2021)

Chuck Robb served as the 64th Governor of Virginia from 1982 to 1986 and as a United States Senator from 1989 until 2001.

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