I spent the snowy weekend getting to know Chris Christie all over again, the governor who at first fascinated, and eventually infuriated, me.

The man I first encountered six years ago has been so busy barnstorming America - on what looks more and more like a quixotic quest for the presidency - that I'd forgotten how beguiling he could be.

But as the flakes fly and the wind blows, I stay in my jammies and savor my friend and former Inquirer colleague Matt Katz's American Governor - Chris Christie's Bridge to Redemption (Threshold Editions).

I dive into (OK, binge on) the book. And sure enough, I get a glimpse of the Christie whom I, a congenital liberal, found myself rather smitten with early on.

The guy with the bootstrapish blue-collar Catholic bio I related to.

The politico who spoke like a human being and not an algorithm.

The governor who had a soft spot for people, like me, who are in recovery, even if he stubbornly believed that gay people (me, too!) should be excluded from civil marriage by "definition."

The book took me back to those days when Christie's up-close-and-personal political skills seemed so thrilling.

The days when he seemed poised to knock the dust off (and perhaps, some sense into) the calcified carcass of partisan business-as-usual.

That's what Christie seemed to be doing on a sweltering June afternoon in 2011, when I heard him speak passionately about building decent schools for Camden's children.

A modern Republican politician finding his way to the city was news enough.

But as Christie spoke, off to the side stood South Jersey's preternaturally cool Democrat-in-chief, George Norcross, listening, as Katz memorably writes, as if inside "an air-conditioned space all his own."


Christie was sufficiently bold and bipartisan to work with Norcross? What was going on here? Something new?

No, not really.

American Governor goes on to describe, in deeply reported (and depressing) detail, how Christie was and is little more than a variation on the same old theme.

It's the story of the same old power games, allegedly played on our behalf by an insular insiders' club. The members of which may see themselves as the elect without necessarily being elected.

The club - to which, Katz makes clear, Christie has long hungered to be admitted - is for those who have acquired the wherewithal to do/get what they want, purportedly out of an altruistic desire to give the rest of us what's good for us.

Whether we want it or not.

For club members, the projection and, even more important, protection of power is, in the end, the sole goal.

So I keep on reading, between bouts of shoveling snow, popping aspirin, and firing up a trusty heating pad for my lower back.

American Governor offers reminders of the countless contradictions that initially gave texture to, but eventually came to tarnish, the Christie brand.

The have-a-beer Jersey Joe turns out to have an unseemly champagne taste for perks; his blunt talk about reforms is belied by blatant backroomy deals; and that refreshing aura of forthrightness flounders amid a sour undercurrent of surreptitious, petty vengefulness.

In the last third of American Governor, Katz exposes the thoroughly rotten heart of Bridgegate, the scandal to which the book's title cheekily (if a bit clumsily) alludes.

He deploys a technique that newspaper people call a "ticktock" - a blow-by-blow, vignette-rich, sequential summary of events.

This account of those five days of "traffic problems in Fort Lee" makes clear that ordinary New Jerseyans - in other words, people other than the poobahs who sit in private Super Bowl boxes - were made to suffer.

For nothing.

856-779-3845 @inqkriordan