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While America Sleeps by Russ Feingold

A Wake-Up Call for the Post-9/11 Era

While America Sleeps by Russ Feingold
  • On sale: January 1, 1970
  • Price: $
  • ISBN: 9780307952523
Contact: Campbell Wharton

A powerful and provocative discussion detailing America’s collective failure to respond properly to the challenges posed in the post-9/11 era


“This incisive political memoir . . . provides fascinating glimpses into a senator’s daily life and decision-making process, from cloakroom wheeling and dealing and congressional delegations to Iraq, Asia, and Africa to town hall meetings and confrontations with constituents throughout Wisconsin. . . His shockingly reasonable and carefully considered responses, as well as his respect for, and collaboration with, such Republican colleagues as John McCain and John Ashcroft, will make progressives, Wisconsinites, and other frustrated Americans nostalgic for the days of a more thoughtful, productive Congress.”

Publishers Weekly, Pick of the Week


While America Sleeps marks the welcome return of Russ Feingold’s principled and uncompromising voice, criticizing our institutions’ failed responses in the decade after 9/11. It’s a book unmistakably rooted in the same qualities that distinguished Feingold in his eighteen years as a senator: love of country, principle before party, a hunger for solutions, and a belief that a lost America can find its way again.” Arianna Huffington

“Sage, sensible words by a leader who can now point to how right he was.”

Kirkus Reviews

“With precise recommendations in areas as diverse as citizen-advocacy programs and foreign language education, Feingold offers a thoughtful prescription for elected officials and voters alike, and he invokes a passionate plea for every American to realize the momentous connections between ourselves and others around the world so that our nation is better able to proactively meet future challenges.” Booklist


Revered on the left and respected on the right, former Senator Russ Feingold is known for sticking to his convictions. He represented Wisconsin in the United States Senate for eighteen years and became a champion of progressives and liberals. In his highly anticipated new book, already garnering acclaim in prepublication reviews, WHILE AMERICA SLEEPS: A Wake-Up Call for the Post-9/11 Era (Crown Publishers, on sale February 21, 2012), explains from the senator’s unique point of view where America went wrong after 9/11. Feingold explores how the government and citizens alike can reverse our missteps through proposed solutions to the international problems that threaten America.

Feingold also pulls back the curtain on his fascinating time in politics, offering many tidbits inside the Beltway. In addition, he offers a frank assessment and critique of foreign policy and the protection of civil liberties under President Obama. Some of the stories and items discussed in WHILE AMERICA SLEEPS include:

  • Feingold’s candid criticism of President Obama on his continuation of some of President Bush’s War on Terror policies, including civil liberties and the war in Afghanistan.
  • A chilling account of how GOP senators, such as Lindsey Graham and Jim DeMint, were so set on not working with President Obama but instead were thwarting him from the start. DeMint wanted to “break him.”
  • Feingold’s criticism of the Obama administration’s overconfidence in how degraded the threat from Al Qaeda has become.
  • Feingold’s opinion of Harry Reid and his ability to occasionally spout out a little too much information.
  • President Obama admits to Feingold he was right on Iraq: “Russ I’m always with you—just six months later.”
  • Feingold’s lonely but inspiring account of being the only senator to vote against the Patriot Act.
  • What was behind Feingold’s controversial censure resolution against President Bush.
  • Feingold’s heated conversation with John McCain during the 2005 Iraq visit that included this exchange: “John, you know darn well if you were president at the time, there’s no way you would have chosen that moment to invade Iraq.”
  • A fascinating, inside blow-by-blow account of revising and refining the Authorization for the Use of Military Force in the days after 9/11.
  • Feingold’s alarming meeting with Richard Holbrooke just before his untimely death.
  • Things in Iraq were so bad on a 2006 trip, that the GOP governors that are part of the delegation are all really dismayed. Bob Riley, the governor of Alabama, admits to McCain: “John, I’m getting a little worried. Feingold is the only one who’s making sense to me.”
  • A harrowing account of the hours following the 9/11 attacks when congressional leadership is hidden at a secret location, leaving senators and congressmen and -women to wonder ”Who’s in charge?”
  • Evidence of Al Qaeda’s breadth of appeal before the 9/11 attacks: on a 2001 trip to Nigeria, Feingold spots postcards and T-shirts featuring Qaddafi and Osama bin Laden.
  • Prior to interviewing him, George Will calls Feingold “the devil himself” to his face, then freaks out at how close Feingold’s offices are to the anthrax attack on Tom Daschle’s mailroom.
  • A detailed account of the anthrax attack and the toll it took on Feingold’s staff, two of whom tested positive for exposure.
  • Feingold’s interesting encounter with Richard Nixon, and coming away with a newfound respect for the former president’s understanding of foreign policy.
  • McCain playfully barbs Feingold on Iraq trip: “This is Russ Feingold. I bring him along because he is consistent, consistently wrong.” Later in the trip, he introduced him to the prime minister of Kuwait: “Your Excellency, this is Senator Feingold. He is a member of the Communist Party.” Feingold laughs it off.
  • Feingold is laughed at by senate leadership about making changes to the Patriot Act, even after he got John Ashcroft’s willingness to hear him out.
  • A frank discussion of Feingold’s often tense relationship with Tom Daschle.
  • Eye- rolling gaffes by Jesse Helms and Joe Biden when meeting with world leaders in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
  • Feingold’s account of his time as he deemed it as “The First Post-Cold War Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.”
  • Feingold’s call for extended national service and “citizen diplomacy.”

WHILE AMERICA SLEEPS also suggests ways in which we can awaken a new national conversation to engage with the rest of the world and one another in a more thoughtful way.

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