Cost of Courage: The Journey of an American Congressman

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Carl Elliott has lived the American dream and the American nightmare. His courage, tenacity, and vision carried him from the hills of northwest Alabama to the United States House of Representatives, where he served eight distinguished terms--only to see his career destroyed by the greatest political chameleon of our time, George Wallace, in a vicious battle of the politics of race and segregation. Born in a log cabin on a tenant farm in 1913, Carl Elliott worked his way through the University of Alabama during ...
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Overview

Carl Elliott has lived the American dream and the American nightmare. His courage, tenacity, and vision carried him from the hills of northwest Alabama to the United States House of Representatives, where he served eight distinguished terms--only to see his career destroyed by the greatest political chameleon of our time, George Wallace, in a vicious battle of the politics of race and segregation. Born in a log cabin on a tenant farm in 1913, Carl Elliott worked his way through the University of Alabama during the Depression, and was elected to Congress in 1948. With a no-nonsense philosophy of fairness and equal opportunity, he established himself as one of the most effective members of the House of Representatives during the 1950s. He was a progressive Democrat in an era when segregationists dominated southern statehouses. Elliott fought for his constituents, the dirt farmers and coal miners he grew up with and who sent him to Congress. He was the instrumental force in passing the National Defense Education Act of 1958, which has provided loans enabling more than twenty million Americans to attend college, and he became a member of the prestigious House Rules Committee during the Kennedy administration. Carl Elliott's effectiveness made him the target of the racist reactionaries who rose to power in the South in the late 1950s and early 1960s--most notably George Wallace. His refusal to join the Wallace forces, and his stand against them in the 1966 gubernatorial race, ruined him professionally (he never returned to elected office) and financially (he cashed in his congressional pension to help finance his campaign for governor). Human and heartfelt, laced with humor and wry wisdom, The Cost of Courage is the story of a decent, steadfast man who worked with some of the most important political names of this century--Truman, Eisenhower, Nixon, Kennedy, Rayburn. It is the story of an individual making his way across a stage as large as America, to encounter som
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Former Democratic Alabama congressman Elliott ( Annals of Northwest Alabama ), assisted by Virginia journalist D'Orso, here recounts his role in the struggle for civil rights--and against George Wallace. Recognized by the first John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award in 1990, this largely unsung hero emerges from years as a destitute invalid to recall his part in passage of the National Defense Education Act and membership in the House Rules Committee under Kennedy. With zest and without self-pity, he relives his youth as a Southern tenant farmer, his hard-earned education and his career as a ``barter'' lawyer for the miners and dirt farmers who sent him to Congress in 1948. The Klan, Birchers and the Wallace machine defeated Elliott's bid for reelection to a ninth term and a 1966 gubernatorial attempt which ruined him financially and ended his political life. The narrative is rich in portrayals of political figures, including the ``fearsome magnetism'' of a ruthless Wallace. Photos not seen by PW. (Feb.)
Library Journal
Former Alabama Congressman Elliott was the first winner of the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award. His autobiography focuses on his political career in the 1950s and 1960s when Alabama and the rest of the South were convulsed by struggles over racial integration. It was his liberalism, his failure to staunchly support segregation, and the power then wielded by segregationist Governor George Wallace that brought Elliott's career to an early end. His book contains a few factual errors (e.g., the Congress of Racial Equality is misidentified). Still, it is a good way for general readers to develop some understanding of the problems facing moderate and liberal Southern politicians during this turbulent period. For a broader examination of Southern politics during this same era, readers can consult Numan V. Bartley and Hugh D. Graham's Southern Politics and the Second Reconstruction ( LJ 6/15/75). Suitable for public library collections on Southern history and politics.-- Thomas H. Ferrell, Univ. of Southwestern Louisiana, Lafayette
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780385420914
  • Publisher: Doubleday Publishing
  • Publication date: 1/1/1992
  • Edition description: 1st ed
  • Pages: 336

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