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Unfinished Business: a Democrat and a Republican Take on the 10 Most Important Issues Women Face.

by Dr. Julianne Malveaux and Deborah Perry Perigee, September 2002 $23.95, ISBN 0-399-52808-3

It definitely makes better TV. In fact, that's where the idea of Unfinished Business got started. In 1998, Julianne Malveaux, an economist and vocal supporter of the liberal left, and Deborah Perry, a former Bush appointee and advocate of the right, met on MSNBC's My Morning Blend to talk about the scandal involving then President Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky. What resulted was "chaos," said Soledad O'Brien, the anchor at the time.

The two women were so passionate about debating their ideologies that the producer of the show considered "killing their mikes," because O'Brien couldn't get a word in edgewise. The mikes stayed on because the heated exchange not only made for great television, it illuminated--in a smart, lively way--important political issues.

In Unfinished Business, Malveaux and Perry attempt to duke it out over 10 hot button issues for women. They include abortion, crime, work and family, equal pay and benefits, education, welfare, the economy, race, foreign policy and the environment. The result: an important piece of political commentary that allows each woman to examine each issue in her own chapter.

What the book lacks, however, is sizzle. On many subjects, Malveaux and Perry simply prowl around the other's position as opposed to taking each other on. For example, in the "Work and Family" chapter, Malveaux advocates paid leave, part-time employment and a family friendly workplace. Perry talks about telecommuting, flex time and job sharing. So where's the debate? Where's the in-your-face tete-a-tete? About halfway through the book, the reader's attention may start to drift. And that's not because the book isn't well written.

The sad, hard truth is that politics is sometimes boring. Important--but still boring. And if you want to get the regular guy or gal to participate, you have to make it really interesting. Malveaux and Perry definitely have what it takes to do that. It just doesn't come across as well in Unfinished Business, the book. Now Unfinished Business, the talk show, might be great TV.

--Tania Padgett is a reporter for Newsday.
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Author:Padgett, Tania
Publication:Black Issues Book Review
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Nov 1, 2002
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