If you thought the Cosmo centerfold was edgy, hold on tight, Senator Scott Brown’s got more to share. Another political bombshell is set to hit a bookshelf near you.
Senator Brown’s new autobiography “Against All Odds,” reveals a childhood of divorced parents, frequent moves, shoplifting, battering abuse at the hands of drunken stepfathers, and sexual assault by a summer camp counselor.
The book, scheduled for release Monday, after Brown appears in a “60 Minutes” segment Sunday night, reveals new insights into the shaping of Brown’s surprising trajectory from troubled youth to basketball all-star, to law school, to Cosmo centerfold and partying, to the US Senate.
Brown shocked the country when he catapulted from powerless state senator to the Senate a year ago, winning a seat held for decades by the late Democrat Edward M. Kennedy – a stunning Republican victory in the bluest of blue states, Massachusetts.
“Against All Odds” also marks the first time Brown publicly exposes details of his sexual assault. It happened the summer after fourth grade, when he was 10 years old. He was at a Christian summer camp in Cape Code, he writes, when he had to go to the camp infirmary. A camp counselor followed him inside the bathroom.
“I can remember how he looked, every inch of him: his long sandy, light brown hair; his long, full mustache; the beads he wore; the tie-dyed T-shirts and the cutoff jeans, which gave him the look of a hippie,’’ Brown writes. “I was standing there with my pants down and he came right up next to me and asked me if I needed help, and then he reached out his hand,’’ Brown writes, continuing a graphic scene of the fondling.
The counselor threatened harm if Brown revealed the incident. Brown kept quiet – and found himself back at camp the next summer. Though the abuse wasn’t repeated, Brown said he was always on edge and learned a tough lesson: There was no refuge, no one he could “truly trust.”
And then there was a string of abusive stepfathers.
Truck driver Dan Sullivan married Brown’s divorced mother in the 1960s. Brown recalls an incident in which he was supposed to wake up his stepfather.
“He rubbed his face and caught sight of the clock, and the next thing I knew, he balled his hands into fists and began smacking me around,’’ Brown writes. When it was over, his stepfather threatened to kill Brown if he told his mother. “I knew that he would kill me,” Brown writes.
Soon after, Brown heard screams and ran to another grisly scene.
“My mom was screaming and yelling, and crying big choking sobs, and he was hitting her, his fists landing blow after blow,’’ Brown writes.
Brown rushed to protect his mother, biting his stepfather through his pants. “He tasted of soiled Dickies fabric, of coarse male hair and sweaty skin, but I bit down hard, right on the inside of his thigh,’’ Brown writes. “He began pounding my head until my brain rattled like a Jell-O mold turned upside down.’’
Battling an absent father, multiple abusive stepfathers, and a youth of few opportunities and less money, Brown writes that he found salvation in basketball.
He also shares details about the infamous semi-nude 1982 Cosmo centerfold. An incredulous Brown, then a law student at Boston College, thought it was a prank when the Cosmo editor called. When he arrived for the shoot, “pale” and flabby, the Cosmo staff sent him back home and told him to return in two weeks, “more cut.” After a crash diet and feverish workouts, he returned “bronzed and toned,” he writes.
Somewhat expectedly, Brown says his rough childhood made him stronger. “Like a fractured bone, I have knit back stronger in the broken places,’’ Brown writes.
Like most political memoirs, this one undoubtedly serves a strategic purpose and news media everywhere are predicting Brown’s next moves as Brown prepares to start his book tour February 22, at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston.
“The bombshell revelation…reinserts Brown into the national political dialogue at a key juncture for him and will undoubtedly add to the political intrigue surrounding the senator,” reports the Washington Post.
Of course, this is just the beginning. As Brown’s book tour gets underway, he may have more to share about his future ambitions.
Husna Haq is a Monitor correspondent.