The slogan Don’t Let the Fire Go Out! became the guiding force for Jean Carnahan as she confronted life’s challenges after her husband, son, and longtime friend were killed in a plane crash on October 16, 2000. The wife of Mel Carnahan, the well-known and highly respected Missouri governor and popular leader of the Democratic Party, Jean Carnahan made history when she agreed to serve in the U.S. Senate after Missouri voters elected her husband to the position posthumously. Don’t Let the Fire Go Out! is a fascinating and compelling look at the life of this amazingly strong woman.
Although the emphasis in this book is on the years 2000 through 2002—as Carnahan survived the tragic deaths of her loved ones and made her push forward with the campaign to fill what would have been her husband’s Senate seat—it also covers her family, her years of growing up in the Anacostia neighborhood of Washington, D.C., and her marriage to Mel Carnahan. She offers a rare, behind-the-scenes look at life in the Governor’s Mansion during her years as Missouri’s First Lady. The book also provides insight into Mel Carnahan’s devotion to public service. Jean Carnahan recounts her own introduction to the U.S. Senate, her struggle with the decision to vote against the confirmation of John Ashcroft as attorney general, her interactions with other senators, the loss of her Missouri farmhome to fire, a trip to Afghanistan, her reelection defeat in 2002, and countless other experiences that shaped her life and thought.
Don’t Let the Fire Go Out! is an intimate and revealing memoir of an extraordinary woman who overcame great tragedy to become the first woman from Missouri to serve as a United States senator. Resilient, intelligent, and charming, Jean Carnahan will inspire all who read her remarkable story.
About the Author
Jean Carnahan grew up in Washington D.C. and graduated from George Washington University, but spent most of her life in Missouri, where she worked alongside her husband Mel Carnahan in his 19 political campaigns. In 2000, Governor Carnahan was elected to the U.S. Senate posthumously, following a plane crash in which he and their oldest son were killed. Jean went to Washington in his place, becoming the first woman from Missouri to serve in the U.S. Senate. Now retired, the former First Lady of Missouri is a motivational speaker, political activist, the author of five books, and creator of the political website firedupmissouri.com.
Published by University of Missouri Press, 2004. Hardback, 272 pages.