Before stardom hit, Rachel Maddow had lots of growing up — and coming out — to do.

Lisa Rogak’s well-researched “Rachel Maddow: A Biography” (Thomas Dunne Books) details Maddow’s life from growing up in the conservative town of Castro Valley, Calif., as the youngest child of Elaine and Robert Maddow to becoming the popular and brilliant superstar political pundit for MSNBC-TV on the Emmy award-winning “The Rachel Maddow Show.”

As a freshman at Stanford University, she decided to reveal her sexuality in the most public way possible, via an article in the college newspaper, which made her the most visible lesbian on campus. One catch: She hadn’t yet told her parents, who were very Catholic (two of Rachel’s maternal aunts are nuns). When the news hit, they were hurt; there were tears and there were fears of Rachel going to hell. In the end, they just wanted her to be safe and eventually, came around. Maddow currently has been in a 20-plus-year relationship.

This biography focuses on a remarkable woman who knew exactly where her destiny lay, who was devoted to AIDS activism and was bright enough to be invited to study at Oxford where she was awarded a doctorate after completing her thesis on HIV/AIDS and Health Care Reform in British and American Prisons.

After returning to the United States, Rachel continued her involvement with projects that satiated her activism while moving between jobs, including a stint as a DJ on a local radio station. During that time, there were thoughts she would someday take a job with the American Civil Liberties Union, and she began putting out feelers to contacts about working there.

Then a history-changing event happened that would alter the direction of her life and career forever — 9/11. She decided radio would be the best place for her at this time because she felt she could help to explain things clearly to listeners. From there she blasted her way onto the national stage with a stint on Air America, at that time the only all-progressive talk radio network. People noticed. MSNBC-TV came calling. And the rest, as they say, is history.

With the success of “The Rachel Maddow Show” reaching its 12-year mark, and its host showing no signs of slowing down, and with a current work schedule that would take down lesser mortals, does she ever think about leaving MSNBC-TV and maybe doing something else?

Not this lady. “I have the best job on earth. I think helping people understand what is going on in the world and what is going on in your country is a noble thing to do. I have found something I think I am good at.”

If you love politics and a well-written story, Lisa Rogak’s “Rachel Maddow: A Biography” is just the book for you.

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