The authors, two reporters for a large New England newspaper, have written the most definitive biography of Mitt Romney that I have seen to date. Several book were written about Romney prior to the 2008 election, but none were nearly as complete nor did any have a true history of his life.
Beginning with Romney's ancestors, and proceeding to this day, the authors cover almost every aspect of Romney's life. He has, by all measures, led a pretty good life without the challenges that most people face as they go through life. He was in a severe automobile wreck when he was serving on his Mormon mission, but short of that, his life has been good to Mitt.
While reading the biography, it struck me that there are really three distinct Mitt Romney's. One side is the Mitt Romney that his wife, kids and friends know at home, one is the distinct "work" Mitt that is known to fellow workers and colleagues and then there is the "Mormon Church" Mitt that fellow members of his faith see when he is in leadership positions within the church. Each is different and distinct from the others, and makes figuring out the real Mitt a challenge.
When Romney is at home, he is a loving father who is devoted to his wife and children. He also appears to have fun, leaves his work at the office and is a prankster. He has no problem going on vacation and relaxing when it is appropriate. The fact that he is still strongly in love with his wife after over 40 years speaks volumes about him as a family man and he deserves credit for that. In addition, he is giving and regularly helped neighbors who had problems, without seeking any attention or credit for his actions.
The work Romney is a different creature: he is driven, focused like a laser light on success and surrounds himself with talented people. He is extremely data driven and only makes decisions after completely crunching and mulling over the numbers. He is somewhat risk averse and is not a person to act on the spur of the moment. He also enjoys the roll of making the final decision. Tellingly, he didn't undertake the usual politics when he was governor of Massachusetts. Almost all politicians know that to survive and be successful in such a position, you need to know the other side and work towards compromise. That wasn't Romney. He didn't want to know the other side, and he acted as though he were the CEO of the State. He seemed to forget that there was a legislature that he had to work with, and by many accounts, he got little accomplished in his time in the State House for that very reason. In addition, he had a history of being one sided that was beginning to catch up with him near the end of his term. This is also the Romney that many people saw in Salt Lake City when he worked to get the Olympic Games back on track.
Finally, there is the Romney people see when he is in a leadership position in his church, which was the case for a number of years. He is considered to have strong faith and worked hard in his "spare" time for the church. Most disturbing about his church time appears to be his lack of questioning or thought about the tenants of the church. There is some leeway with church doctrine in certain cases, but Romney appears to have taken the strongest, simplest line with the doctrine and not varied, although he had that power. For instance, the church allows for abortion in several narrowly defined areas, including rape, incest, when the life of the mother is in jeopardy or when it is believed the baby will not survive the birth. Yet, when a member of the church need guidance on an abortion issue, where her life was threatened, Romney stuck to the strict side of the doctrine and warned her she could be excommunicated. There didn't appear to be any thought or human emotion put into the decision. He read the book, and followed it to the letter.
As a result, we have three fairly distinct personalities and one must wonder which one we will get if he is elected president. Or, will is be an amalgamation of all three depending on the circumstances? I guess that is up to the reader and voter to decide.
I highly recommend this book to all voters. It is always important to be informed when voting, and this is the least biased and most honest biography one could hope for. It will allow the voter to decide if Romney is presidential material or not and allow the reader to judge any statements Romney makes against his past record.