Let’s all be thankful for people like AuCoin who relish public service. People who know that real change starts from the bottom up, not with those few hundred in the top 1% who control the nations wealth. People who understand the importance of wilderness and the need to protect it from destruction. People who make a real difference in the lives of individuals and their country.
AuCoin did not grow up in privilege. His father was a gambling man who abandoned his wife and two young sons, leaving them in debt, vulnerable, and on their own. They found a safe harbor with an aunt and uncle in Redmond, Oregon. Clerking at Safeway his Mom earned enough to move her family into an old 16-foot trailer. Switching to waitressing, she was able rent a one-bedroom house of dubious construction. This was a woman who worked hard to put a roof over the head of her children, to find money in a limited budget for food, clothing, and other necessities. It is a childhood that taught AuCoin respect for the working poor and gave him the empathy necessary to help.
In the 1960’s AuCoin was politicized by monumental events occurring in our country. Kennedy’s charismatic entreaty to “ask what you can do for your country”. He was in the Army stationed in Germany when he learned of Kennedy’s assassination. By the 1970’s he was a Congressman working to make Oregon a better place for all its citizens.
AuCoin was in the thick of things throughout his career, promoting racial equality, gay rights, preservation of wilderness, and so many other important issues. Catch and Release gives a first hand review of Oregon’s political history.
This is also the story of a young boy who came from humble beginnings, worked hard, excelled in a difficult game, and achieved accomplishments that were important in so many ways. It conveys his love of his family, appreciation for nature, and desire to do the right thing. I don’t think there is anything more we can ask of our legislators. Being a Congressperson is a tough job, he did it with grace.— Deon Stonehouse
In this compelling collection of life stories, AuCoin traces his unlikely rise from a fatherless childhood in Central Oregon to the top ranks of national power. Then came a painful defeat in one of the most controversial races in US Senate history, against incumbent Bob Packwood.
A fly fisher, AuCoin uses “catch and release” as a metaphor for succeeding and letting go of loss with dignity and equanimity. His memories are in turn funny, suspenseful, and revealing. AuCoin takes us to the Kremlin, pre-industrial China, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and into the tortuous politics of the Northwest spotted owl crisis. He interacted with world figures like Mikhail Gorbachev, Ronald Reagan, House Speakers Tip O’Neill and Jim Wright, and Oregon legends Tom McCall and Mark Hatfield. Closer to home, AuCoin allied himself with activists like Sidney Lasseigne of the Newport Fishermen’s Wives.
Catch and Release offers readers a revealing glimpse behind the scenes of congressional life, as lived by the 535 souls who inhabit the US House and Senate—including the author, who assesses his own strengths and foibles with humility and candor.
About the Author
—Pat Schroeder, former US Congresswoman, presidential candidate, and president of the Association of American Publishers
—Steve Duin, longtime Oregonian columnist
—Steve Forrester, former publisher, The Daily Astorian
—Robert J. Mrazek, award-winning author of And the Sparrow Fell, A Dawn Like Thunder, and other books
—Former Oregon Governor Barbara Roberts