The Lindsey Graham story is now available as an e-book

Lindsey Graham is following the route of other presidential contenders, releasing an autobiography this week that details his upbringing in small-town South Carolina and how his political philosophy was shaped by his life and times.

It’s not a tell-all, but Lindsey Graham is following the route of other presidential contenders by releasing an autobiography.

“Everyone has a story,” Graham says in the opening line of “My Story.”

The 126-page account is being released Wednesday as an e-book, free of charge, by the Graham for president campaign.

Much of the setting focuses on Graham’s growing up in the back of the family’s Sanitary Cafe, the epicenter of his parent’s restaurant, bar and pool hall.

It’s where the undersized Graham says he learned as a youth about black and white, men who liked to spin tall tales and how his struggling parents worked hard to keep it all together.

“Most of our regulars were good people and good company, and not the type to cause trouble,” he wrote.

As a 12-year-old, Graham said he did everything from stock iced beer, rack pool balls, and steal lit cigarettes and sips from half-empty glasses.

“They came to drink some beer and have a good time with their co-workers, friends and neighbors. They talked about work or hunting or Clemson football. They might talk a little politics now and then, but most folks steered clear of truly controversial topics.”

But race was still an issue in 1960s Central, the town where Graham grew up in what was then a part of Upstate South Carolina’s thriving textiles and mill country. Twenty percent of the town’s population was black.

“Times being what they were, most of our customers were white,” he wrote. “My folks sold beer to anyone of legal age, but, I’m sorry to say, for many of the years my parents operated the bar, black people were expected to drink the beer they purchased from us off the premises.

“ ‘It’s just the way it is,’ my Dad explained to me. That eventually changed, but not until the early ’70s, much later than it should have.”

The rollout comes as e-books are considered a much quicker path into circulation than traditional hardback or paperback-book publishing.

Graham, the state’s senior U.S. senator, is one of a dozen Republicans in the GOP White House field. Several others have written autobiographies, as well.

Graham’s account touches on how he dealt with a variety of highs and lows before he became a full-time Washington politician. Told in detail is how both his parents died about 15 months apart, leaving him as the sole guardian of his sister Darline.

Graham, 59, also includes a brief account of a woman he almost proposed to in the 1980s while serving in the Air Force in Europe, a flight attendant for the German airline Lufthansa named Sylvia.

Graham, a bachelor, discussed her publicly for the first time last week after being questioned about remaining single and who the first lady would be in a Graham White House.

“The relationship became serious quickly,” he wrote. “At one point, I thought I would propose, or at least I entertained the idea. It wasn’t to be, though. She was responsible for an aging mother in Vienna, and I was a South Carolina boy, who needed to go home. We stayed in touch for a while after we parted.”

She later married a doctor. “A good move on her part,” he said.

While Graham is listed as the author, its co-author is Mark Salter, former chief of staff for U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, the previous two-time presidential hopeful and Graham’s closest Senate ally.

Graham’s supporters have long held that his modest upbringing would play well on the national front as voters see beyond his modern-day persona as Capitol Hill defense hawk.

The book ends with Graham winning his first Congressional race for the Upstate’s 3rd District in 1992.

The book will be available for download Wednesday at 9 a.m. at

Reach Schuyler Kropf at 937-5551