Flaming Moderate

A Riveting Journey and Quest to Save Democracy

Non-Fiction - Gov/Politics
216 Pages
Reviewed on 05/31/2024
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Author Biography

Following the success of his inaugural memoir, "Forever Young," Roberts has launched his second book, composed of personal experiences and opinions. "Flaming Moderate" features columns drawn from the dozens of op-eds written this century.
Roberts, who began his writing career in the 1960s, served as the youngest newspaper editor in the country, being named as the youngest cabinet-level Chief of Staff for a Tennessee governor. He later returned to his alma mater--the University of Tennessee--where he was the youngest vice president ever appointed at that time.
After his stint in education, Roberts was selected as the youngest-ever CEO of an international exposition when he was named president of the 1982 World's Fair in Knoxville, an event that is still celebrated as the top tourist draw in the southeastern United States.
Roberts was also a partner in a Nashville communications and publishing company before transitioning to lead his own boutique marketing consulting firm, Roberts Strategies, LLC. He continues to write and publish opinion pieces "when moved to do so."
He stays active in politics and sports, two deeply ingrained passions that are intersected by his appreciation for wine, books, and travel. He and his wife (and editor) Leigh Hendry share the aforementioned interests, along with their fondness for regularly engaging with friends and family members.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Jamie Michele for Readers' Favorite

Flaming Moderate by Bo Roberts recounts pivotal moments in his life, from facing the Ku Klux Klan's hostility over his anti-integration stance to his involvement in managing the aftermath of Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination and leadership in the 1982 World's Fair. He reflects on Senator Howard Baker's legacy of moderation, the importance of bipartisan cooperation in politics, and the need for civil discourse. Roberts advocates for passionate yet moderate leadership, analyzes political victories and defeats, and stresses the personal nature of politics. He discusses various issues such as education, government powers, healthcare reform, and national bipartisanship, championing innovative solutions and a balanced approach. Looking toward the future, Roberts highlights Nashville's potential development and proposes a symbolic renewal of America's principles on its 250th anniversary.

In Flaming Moderate: A Riveting Journey and Quest to Save Democracy, Bo Roberts eloquently illustrates the transformative power of bipartisanship, beginning with his close relationship with Senator Howard Baker, despite political differences, emphasizing the vital role of unity in governance. Roberts does well in pinpointing moments that should have driven change, like the Virginia Tech shooting, and really humanizes tragedy in advocating for bipartisan action. I was touched by his connection with victim Shani, and while I have always been a champion of gun reform, Roberts completely underscores the urgency for cooperation in a personal way. His writing style, marked by intelligent rhetorical questions and direct address to readers, feels like a conversation with an impassioned friend and encourages active engagement. Still, Roberts keeps a hopeful tone throughout and makes a call for action sure to inspire his readers to embrace optimism and pursue positive change. Very highly recommended.

Constance Stadler

Bo Roberts begins Flaming Moderate: A Riveting Journey and Quest to Save Democracy by defining what this unusual pairing of words in the title represents. When serving as Chief of Staff to the Governor of Tennessee at the time when Martin Luther King was assassinated in Memphis, he had a key role in extinguishing the scorching flame of consequential mob violence. As CEO of the 1982 World’s Fair, there were fires to be nurtured, such as the inclusion of the People’s Republic of China, efforts that had a transformative state-wide impact. Roberts’ enflamed commitment to the betterment of the Volunteer State is the core theme, as expressed through a compilation of twenty years of op-ed columns advocating achievable solutions and reflecting his thoughts on moderation. His encapsulated portrait of Howard Baker, who represented the state for decades and achieved astounding success in the Senate through service as “The Great Conciliator," is inspirational. When Roberts advocated for building a domed stadium and system of mass transit, where long-term benefits would far exceed costs, he was in synch with Baker’s stalwart belief in the need for like-minded bi-partisan coalitions. 

Roberts consistently stresses necessary choices in line with the legacy of Tennessee’s honorable past and the hope of an even better future. In arguing for a purple party, he is somewhat cheeky in tone but direct in the intended message. His argument against proposed English-only drivers demonstrates the breadth of what is thought noteworthy. Emphatic insistence on the state honoring the worth of teachers and not reducing state-supported college tuition costs are issues he returns to several times because, in his view, there is nothing of greater importance. The national need for universal health care and the meeting between Trump and his North Korean counterpart, Kim Jong Un, are topics within his incisive scope, but Roberts’ focus is state-centered. As the reader progresses from section to section, a living portrait of Tennessee’s needs and priorities emerges, exemplifying what should be the same for every state in the Union. When reaching the final pages, Bo Roberts makes an excellent case for why the Declaration of Independence is equally relevant in the 21st century. Flaming Moderate is a book that has relevance for every American.

K.C. Finn

Flaming Moderate: A Riveting Journey and Quest to Save Democracy is a work of non-fiction in the government and politics, sociocultural issues, and motivational writing genres. Penned by author Bo Roberts, this engaging volume chronicles a compelling narrative of overcoming adversity and striving for progress amidst the challenges facing democracy. From confronting the specter of racism symbolized by a burning Ku Klux Klan cross to navigating the aftermath of Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination, the book captures the resilience and determination of individuals working toward positive change. Through insightful reflections and praise for effective public servants, Roberts highlights the importance of reasoned collaboration across political divides to address global, national, and local issues. The author delves into vital community and national issues, offering readers actionable insights to improve society and uphold democratic values.

Author Bo Roberts has crafted an enlightening and inspiring journey through the tumultuous landscape of American democracy that showcases firsthand accounts and astute observations. The information is clear and concise, shedding light on the challenges facing the nation and the individuals dedicated to finding solutions with enthusiasm and objectivity. The author offers a lot of hope and I appreciated the emphasis on constructive and meaningful dialogue, which is modeled very well by the narrative itself. The work is also well organized to build on previous ideas with a good, logical structure. It would serve well to introduce newcomers to the world of American politics who may be less familiar with how it all works. Roberts' call to action at the conclusion of the book is reasoned and emotionally impactful, and it’s sure to leave readers feeling empowered and motivated to engage more actively in the democratic process with a new, more fully-rounded perspective. Overall, Flaming Moderate is a rallying cry for citizens to come together and work toward a brighter future for all, and I’d certainly recommend it to anyone with a keen interest in politics and social change.