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Up the Capitol Steps

A Woman's March to the Governorship

Barbara Roberts

Women and Politics in the Pacific Northwest

6 × 9 inches. Black & white photographs. Index. 448 pages.

2011. ISBN 978-0-87071-610-2. Paperback, $24.95.

Up the Capitol Steps is a personal and political memoir by Oregon’s first (and only) woman governor, one of only thirty-four women who have served as state chief executives in the history of the United States. Barbara Roberts offers a behind-the-scenes glimpse of a woman’s life in politics and aims to “demystify” leadership by telling the story of her own unlikely rise to power. 

The mother of an autistic child before the advent of special education, Roberts began her life in public service as an advocate for the rights of children with disabilities. She documents her expanding political career from school board member to legislator to Secretary of State and finally, Governor. In this gripping and poignant memoir, hotly contested elections and tough policy decisions are interspersed with intimate details of personal ups and downs. Throughout, Roberts reveals the warmth and humor that show the “real” person behind the politician.

Only the third published autobiography by an American woman head of state, Up the Capitol Steps is “a very significant contribution to Oregon history, the history of women in politics, and especially the history of women governors,” according to series editor Melody Rose. The book captures a period of our nation’s political history and a view of women’s expanding role in government that brings new understanding to the term, “social revolution.”

Listen to Barbara Roberts on OPB's Think Out Loud.

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