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Book Review: Character Makes a Difference

May 17, 2009

Character Makes a Difference is a 2007 release by former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee. It is a re-release of 1997’s Character is the Issue, along with selected chapters of Living Beyond Your Lifetime from 2000. It appears to have been released in preparation for Gov. Huckabee’s unsuccessful run for the Presidency. While that may (or may not) have been the reason for the book, that is not what it is about.

Character is neatly divided into three sections: “Character in the Furnace”, “The Need for Character”, and “Selected Speeches & Commentary”. In the first section, Mr. Huckabee describes his rise to the governor’s office. Born and raised in rural Arkansas, he spent his life as a devout Southern Baptist. He attended Ouachita Baptist University and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He pastored two churches in Arkansas before he felt God leading him into the world of politics. When then-Governor Bill Clinton was elected President in 1992, Lieutenant Governor Jim Guy Tucker became governor. Mike Huckabee was elected as the Republican Lieutenant Governor in a Democratic state. During the Whitewater scandal, Gov. Tucker was convicted and resigned his office allowing Huckabee to assume the office. But it wasn’t really that simple. Tucker had committed to resign the office, but changed his mind. Mr. Huckabee describes the support he received from a Democrat legislature and the general public.

The second section focuses on “why character is important, how we know there are absolutes of good and bad character, and the consequences of surrendering those absolutes to the champions of relativism.” (from the introduction) Mr. Huckabee describes and illustrates faith in a number of ways, all of them in his typical folksy manner. He clearly articulates his faith and and the object of that faith is clearly identified as Christ and his Word.

The third section is a short collection of some of his speeches and commentary from his days as governor of Arkansas. The first is the text of a speech that was never delivered. It was prepared to be delivered in a televised address just after being sworn in as governor. This was before Gov. Tucker decided not to resign. The next was an improptu speech before the state General Assembly before Tucker actually did resign. The third is an unscripted televised address given in place of the first speech. In it, Gov. Tucker was given the ultimatum to resign or face impeachment. Almost immediately, Tucker’s resignation was delivered to the legislature. The fourth speech is the televised speech after being sworn in as governor. The final address was given to the 2004 National Forum on Education Policy. In this speech, Gov. Huckabee addresses the need for an arts education for every child in our schools.

This book is an easy read. It took me a total of about three to four hours to complete all 227 pages. Just because it is easy doesn’t mean it isn’t interesting or valuable. If you, like me, are already an admirer and fan of Mike Huckabee, this book will give you additional insight into the way he conducts himself. If you don’t know much about him, it will help you understand his values and character. I can wholeheartedly recommend Character Makes a Difference.


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