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A Passion for Purpose

Building Cities for Our Children

by Sylvester "Sly" James with Sean Wheelock

foreword by Kit Bond

$26 USD / $30 CAN
In this candid autobiography that seamlessly incorporates political philosophy, the life story of Kansas City, Missouri Mayor Sylvester "Sly" James is told in a fast-paced, entertaining, informative, and authentic style.

Elected to the mayor’s office in 2011 as a political outsider, James immediately made his mark with his unflinching candor. That tone carries over to this book, as James holds nothing back when detailing the life experiences that shape his core values and beliefs.

James strongly believes the only government that runs efficiently is local government, and he details how politics on the civic level should be implemented on the state and federal stages. Although he was elected in a nonpartisan process, James reveals his strong and reasoned political leanings.

A fierce advocate for children, James has targeted reading proficiency for third graders as a benchmark for success in later life. Consistent with this, Education is the first of the "4 E Agenda" he created as mayor, along with Employment, Efficiency, and Enforcement.

The product of all-black neighborhoods, James always felt comfortable interacting with people different from himself—whether it be in forms of race, religion, ethnicity, or beliefs. In an era when segregation was still the norm, James attended a predominantly-white Catholic high school, was the sole black member in a rock band, and later entered into a mixed-race marriage. When he became the first black lawyer for a prestigious Kansas City law firm, James immediately thrived by showcasing his intelligence and work ethic.

Along with his service during the Vietnam War, these experiences laid the foundation for James to become mayor of a city that still bears the signs of an unofficially-segregated past.

When he won re-election to the office in 2015 with an amazing 87 percent of the vote, it was a crystal clear indication that James is first and foremost a unifier of the people.

A Passion For Purpose serves not just as the title of this revealing and perceptive book, but also as the mantra by which Sly James based his tenure as mayor--and his life.
A Passion for Purpose

About the Authors

Sylvester "Sly" James

Sylvester "Sly" James was sworn in as the 56th Mayor of Kansas City, Missouri in 2011, and was re-elected for a second term in 2015. A native Kansas Citian, James served as a military police officer in the Marine Corps during the Vietnam War.

Prior to his entry into politics, James was a highly successful attorney. He has served as President of the Kansas City Metropolitan Bar Association and in leadership positions on numerous other boards and commissions.

As mayor, James created the "4 E Agenda," which focuses on Education, Employment, Efficiency, and Enforcement. He worked extensively to raise Kansas City’s statewide and national profile, and at the state level was an advocate for common-sense gun control laws, a minimum wage increase, and the addition of more high-quality seats in classrooms. James also has been active in leadership positions in several national mayoral organizations.

James has been married to Licia Clifton-James, Ph.D., since 1981, and is the proud father of four children: Eric (deceased), Malik, Kyle, and Aja.

Sean Wheelock

Sean Wheelock is one of the most experienced television commentators in combat sports, and has commentated globally for numerous major fight promotions.

Wheelock has previously authored two books as well as numerous articles for the Wrestling Observer Newsletter/Figure Four Online, and the websites of the British Broadcasting Corporation, Fox Sports, and Major League Soccer. He serves as a Commissioner of the Kansas Athletic Commission, and as Chairman of the ABC’s MMA Rules and Regulations Commission.

Wheelock lives in Shawnee, Kansas with his wife Kelly, originally from England, and their daughters.


Autobiography/Biography/Celebrity, Memoir, Politics and Social Sciences
Publication Date
July 2019
Hard Cover with dust jacket
Trim Size
5 1/2" x 8 1/2"
Page Count
304, with 16-page photo insert
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