And I Haven't Had a Bad Day Since From the Streets of Harlem to the Halls of Congress

Charles B. Rangel with Leon Wynter

St. Martin's Griffin



Trade Paperback

336 Pages


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In this inspiring and often humorous memoir, the outspoken Democratic congressman from Harlem—now the chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee—tells about his early years on Lenox Avenue, being awarded a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart for wounds sustained in a horrific Korean War battle (the last bad day of his life, he says), and his many years in Congress.
A charming, natural storyteller, Rangel recalls growing up in Harlem, where from the age of nine he always had at least one job, including selling the legendary Adam Clayton Powell’s newspaper; his group of streetwise sophisticates who called themselves Les Garçons; and his time in law school—a decision made as much to win his grandfather’s approval as to establish a career. He recounts as well his life in New York politics during the 1960s and the grueling civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery.
With New York street smarts, Rangel is a tough liberal and an independent thinker, but also a collegial legislator respected by Democrats and Republicans alike who knows and honors the House’s traditions. First elected to Congress in 1970, Rangel served on the House Judiciary Committee during the hearings on the articles of impeachment of President Nixon, helped found the Congressional Black Caucus, and led the fight in Congress to pressure U.S. corporations to divest from apartheid South Africa.
Best of all, this is a political memoir with heart, the story of a life filled with friends, humor, and accomplishments. Charles Rangel is one of a kind, and this is the story of how he became the celebrated person and politician he is today.
He opens his memoir with a preface about the 2006 elections and an outline of his goals as chairman of Ways and Means. From day one he wants to put the public first so that more Americans can say they haven’t had a bad day since.


Praise for And I Haven't Had a Bad Day Since

“Brims with brio . . . [A] remarkable life story, irresistibly told . . . The congressman’s character portraits, of the famous and not-so-famous, are sympathetically drawn and in many cases wonderfully constructed . . . Oh, the stories . . . there are plenty from which to choose . . . As a politician/raconteur with a hell of a tale to tell, he sure has my vote.”—Eric Alterman, New York Times Book Review

“Charlie's memoir recounts his extraordinary life as only he could, with sparkling wit, outspoken candor, and remarkable insight . . . While his heart and his voice are from Harlem, his story will inspire all Americans who believe hard work and conviction make dreams come true.”—Bill Clinton 

“[Charlie Rangel] possesses many qualities that have made him the able legislator and national leader he is today, but the most important of these are the qualities most in evidence in this fine memoir—his compassion, confidence and patriotism, the qualities of a first-rate American.”—Senator John McCain

“Congressman Rangel didn't become one of the highest-ranking Democrats in the House of Representatives, or the newly appointed chair of the Ways and Means Committee, by alienating his colleagues, and he upholds that tradition in this memoir. A few of his anecdotes reflect badly on Republicans, but mostly the emphasis is on Rangel. The title comes from the attitude he adopted after nearly dying in the Korean War. ‘I lost my right to complain about anything again in life’ after that, he explains, though the lesson really sank in after a job counselor pressured the high school dropout to choose a career and helped him get the college education that sent him to law school and beyond. Such stories from Rangel's early life, when he straddled the line between street life and higher aspirations, offer some of the most engaging passages. As for contemporary politics, Rangel revels in his role persuading Hillary Clinton to run for the Senate, while occasionally weighing in on the war in Iraq and the ‘kind of racist algebra’ he believes keeps the GOP from making concessions to black voters.”—Publishers Weekly

“Rangel, the newly elected chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, reflects on his time in Congress, in and out of majority status, and the surprising road that led him there. The 19-term congressman from Harlem who replaced the legendary Adam Clayton Powell Jr. was a high-school dropout with the gift of gab and a mind for public service. He returned from military service in Korea with a Purple Heart, but little education. Between NYU and St. John's Law School, Rangel learned to relate to people of diverse ethnic backgrounds. After he was turned down by the state attorney's office, he was subsequently employed by the U.S. attorney's office. His foray into politics came via the Democratic Party organization, yet his independent streak caused him to buck convention. His experience as a state assemblyman provided opportunity to forge alliances across party lines, particularly with Republican governors. That kind of bipartisanship has served him well in his 30-plus years in Congress. A great read at this time of political transition.”—Booklist

“In this entertaining memoir, less a study of politics than an account of a remarkable life, the 19-term congressman from Harlem takes the reader from the days of his somewhat misdirected youth during the Depression and World War II to the present as he assumes the chair of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee. Along the way, Rangel was awarded the Bronze Star for leading his unit to safety after a deadly nighttime attack at Kunuri, Korea. (He won a Purple Heart as well.) Because he survived that attack, he has faced every adversity since with the perspective that nothing could be worse than that experience; hence his declaration, ‘I haven't had a bad day since.’ A founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus, Rangel offers insight on the Civil Rights movement's struggles and advances, as well as a true insider's view of the triumphs and turmoil of his past 40 years in politics.”—Jill Ortner, Library Journal

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Read an Excerpt

And I Haven't Had a Bad Day Since
1My Beginnings Family Roots Through Junior High SchoolMy family hails from miscegenated roots in Accomac, the seat of Accomack County, Virginia, on the rural DelMarVa peninsula. If the peninsula is a stubby thumb of land sticking 180 miles straight down the coast, right below the point where the borders of Maryland, Delaware, and Pennsylvania meet, then Accomac is smack in the middle of its overgrown fingernail, the last 75 miles that encloses the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. By the map, Accomac is just 180 miles from the U.S. Capitol, but by road, history,
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  • Charles B. Rangel with Leon Wynter

  • Charles B. Rangel is an 18-term Democratic congressman representing New York’s "Fightin' 15th" District (including Harlem and the Upper West Side). He is the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee and a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus. Rangel is the principal author of the $5 billion Federal Empowerment Zone demonstration project to revitalize urban neighborhoods across the U.S., and in the 1980s anti-apartheid movement he led the fight in Congress to pressure U.S. corporations to divest from South Africa. He served in the U.S. Army from 1948 to 1952, and was awarded the Purple Heart and Bronze Star for service in Korea. Rangel is a frequent guest on "Meet the Press" and other TV programs.