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Yet some of them have terrific stories to tell about their early lives. If only they would write about the interesting bits of their biographies and leave out the already familiar career highlights and tiresome score-settling. Consider Hawaii Sen. Mazie K. Hirono’s “Heart of Fire: An Immigrant Daughter’s Story” (Viking, 397 pages, $28) . Ms. Hirono, in this reviewer’s admittedly biased opinion, is author of some of the most witlessly partisan remarks in recent U.S. legislative history. Yet I found the book’s early chapters very moving. Ms. Hirono was born in Japan in 1947. Keiko, as she was called, was a small child when her father fell into alcoholism and gambling. His own parents treated Keiko’s mother with shocking cruelty. When her mother’s breasts suddenly ceased to give milk, “her mother-in-law insisted that [her daughter-in-law’s] upper arm be branded with a sizzling iron, to shock her body into making her milk flow once more.” Ms. Hirono recalls “my mother’s glazed look as she told me this story many years later, almost as if she were recalling an event that had happened to someone else.” She bore the scar on her arm for the rest of her life.
Ms. Hirono’s mother […]