Heroes, Hacks, and Fools

Memoirs from the Political Inside

Ted Van Dyk

  • Published: 2007. Paperback 2012
  • Subject Listing: History / American History; Biography, Autobiography, and Memoir; Pacific Northwest / History
  • Bibliographic information: 240 pp., 20 photos, 6 x 9 in.
  • Territorial rights: World Rights
  • Contents

Ted Van Dyk, a shrewd veteran of countless national political and policy fights, casts fresh light on many of the leading personalities and watershed events of American politics since JFK. He was a Pentagon intelligence analyst during the Berlin Crisis of 1961 and an aide to Jean Monnet and other leaders of the European movement before serving at the Johnson White House as Vice President Humphrey's senior advisor and alter ego. He was involved in that administration's Great Society triumphs and its Vietnam tragedy.

In the late 1960s, Van Dyk moved to Columbia University as vice president to help quell campus disorders which threatened the university. Over a period of 35 years he was a senior advisor to presidential candidates Humphrey, McGovern, Carter, Ted Kennedy, Mondale, Hart, and Tsongas; contributed regular essays to the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Fortune, and other national publications; and led two national think tanks. In 2001 the Bellingham, Washington, native returned to the Northwest to write a regular editorial-page column for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

Van Dyk's memoirs contain many previously untold stories from an historic period of national politics, portray brilliant and not-so-brilliant leaders and ideas, and also illuminate politics' darker side. They bring to life the flawed realities and enduring opportunities of public policymaking in our time.

"Van Dyk uses telling anecdotes to show what it was like to be part of the Humphrey, McGovern, and other liberal Democratic presidential campaigns from 1968 to 1992. Any Democrat who wants to rebuild the party for the future will do well to read this cautionary account. This is one of the best inside political accounts that I have read."
-William Rorabaugh, author of Berkeley at War and Kennedy and the Promise of the Sixties

"Van Dyk provides valuable insights into, and newsworthy revelations about, the many important events he's been involved in and the many public figures he has been associated with, and their role in shaping the public policies of the late twentieth century."
-Albert Eisele, Editor at Large, The Hill, and press secretary to former Vice President Walter Mondale

1. Depression Kids
2. Caught Up in the Cold War
3. A New Generation Takes Over
4. Helping HHH
5. The Great Society
6. Vietnam and Little Else
7. 1968
8. A Near Miss
9. In Transition
10. Crusade and Catastrophe
11. Strange Presidents, Nixon and Carter
12. The Counterrevolution Proceeds
13. Storm Cleanup and a New Storm
14. A New Jacksonian Era, Part One
15. A New Jacksonian Era, Part Two
16. Escape from the Capital
17. A New Century
18. Not the Same Country
19. Who Will Lead?
20. The Democratic Message

"Well worth the attention of political junkies, students of American history, or anyone else who wants to know how politics really worked in the glory days of the Democratic Party. . . . Too often our histories of politics are colored by political biases and attempts to shade the truth. To invoke an old cliché, Van Dyk tells it like it is. His memoir is a great read, a wonderful primer for those who might seek to enter politics themselves, and a terrific walk down memory lane. His idealism and honesty are reminders of what once made the Democratic Party great - and could again."
-Boston Phoenix

"Van Dyk's book is a helpful primer on what goes on behind the scenes and a reminder that it's important to pick presidents with character as well as competence."
-Bellingham Herald

"Ted Van Dyk is telling us exactly what happened and what he honestly thought about it. It's as pure a political memoir as we're ever likely to see. . . . [with] the kind of filthy detail that most political memoirs are too polite, and too deadly boring, to share."
-The Stranger

"Heroes, Hacks, and Fools is about Democrats. It is a well-written and detailed autobiography..His story, particularly of the Humphrey-McGovern years, is one of the best accounts of that era in a long time."
-Seattle Times

"It is precisely [Van Dyk's] willingness to stick his neck out, to study and opine and participate, that makes his arguments so compelling."
-Bookmonger: Kitsap Sun