WASHINGTON — Thursday marks Sen. Tammy Duckworth’s 16th “Alive Day,” the anniversary of when she almost died after her helicopter was shot down over Iraq — just one part of an extraordinary journey the war vet has turned into her memoir, “Every Day Is a Gift.”
The Illinois Democrats’ book is scheduled for publication on March 30, 2021, Duckworth’s publisher announced Thursday.
Terms of Duckworth’s deal with TWELVE, a brand of Grand Central Publishing/Hachette Book Group, while not immediately revealed, will have to be reported on her next Senate financial disclosure report. An audio edition will be published by Hachette Audio.
Duckworth was represented by attorneys Robert Barnett — a native of Waukegan — and Deneen Howell, the team at the law firm of Williams & Connolly who put together lucrative publishing deals for former President President Barack Obama and ex-first lady Michelle.
Barnett is known for getting top dollar for high-profile Washington figures on both sides of the aisle.
Duckworth said in a statement, “Today, on the 16th anniversary of the day my helicopter was shot down in Iraq, I am grateful to be able to tell my personal American story…. My life has been filled with unexpected challenges and painful experiences, but also with the rewards that come with service and perseverance.”
Publisher Sean Desmond said in a statement Duckworth’s story “is emblematic of what is great about America — resilience, hope and opportunity — and we’re excited to share her journey with readers.”
The book comes as Duckworth is at the peak of her political career, vaulting into the top ranks this summer when she made the short list of women President-elect Joe Biden was considering to be his vice president pick.
In some speculative stories about Biden’s cabinet, Duckworth’s name has come up as a potential pick for Defense Secretary or Veterans Affairs chief.
Duckworth, of Hoffman Estates, has a narrative unique in U.S. political life.
The then-Illinois Army National Guard officer lost two legs and shattered her right arm on Nov. 12, 2004, in the attack. She is alive only because the members of her crew, some also injured, pulled her out of the burning Black Hawk helicopter and made sure the medics did not take her for dead.
She had a hardscrabble youth with her family once on food stamps. Duckworth was born in Thailand. Her father is from the U.S. and her mother is Thai of Chinese descent.
Duckworth’s life took another twist while recovering from her wounds at the old Walter Reed military hospital in Washington.
Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., asked a staffer to find hospitalized Illinois soldiers who he could invite as his guests to the State of the Union. Duckworth was picked, and on Feb. 5, 2005 — just weeks after being shot down — she went to the Capitol. An impressed Durbin put her on the path to politics — eventually a House seat, then, in 2016, election to the Senate.
The cover photo of the book, shot by the famed Annie Leibovitz for a 2018 Vogue Magazine profile, sums up part of her story: Duckworth is pictured in her Senate office, in her wheelchair with one of her titanium legs showing. She is nestling her then-newborn Maile while Abigail is peaking out from under her desk.
Duckworth, 52, made history when she became the first senator to give birth while in office, and she has been candid in talking about the in-vitro fertilization treatments making her late-in-life children possible. Maile was born on April 9, 2018; Abigail on Nov. 18, 2014. Husband Bryan Bowlsbey works for an information technology firm.
The subtitle of her memoir also sums up her story: “Soldier, Senator, Mother.”
BARACK OBAMA’S BOOK OUT TUESDAY
While the post-election drama continues — President Donald Trump is not accepting that President-elect Joe Biden beat him — Obama bursts back big on the scene with the global publication Tuesday of the first of two volumes of his presidential memoirs, titled “A Promised Land.”
Obama is on a monster publicity kick, starting with Sunday interviews — his first since Biden’s election — with Scott Pelley for “60 Minutes” and Gayle King for “CBS Sunday Morning.” One Tuesday, Obama appears with pal Oprah Winfrey on her “The Oprah Conversation” show on Apple TV+.