Every Man a King: The Autobiography of Huey P. Longby Huey P. Long
Huey Long (18931935) was one of the most extraordinary American politicians, simultaneously cursed as a dictator and applauded as a benefactor of the masses. A product of the poor north Louisiana hills, he was elected governor of Louisiana in 1928, and proceeded to subjugate the powerful state political hierarchy after narrowly defeating an impeachment
Huey Long (18931935) was one of the most extraordinary American politicians, simultaneously cursed as a dictator and applauded as a benefactor of the masses. A product of the poor north Louisiana hills, he was elected governor of Louisiana in 1928, and proceeded to subjugate the powerful state political hierarchy after narrowly defeating an impeachment attempt. The only Southern popular leader who truly delivered on his promises, he increased the miles of paved roads and number of bridges in Louisiana tenfold and established free night schools and state hospitals, meeting the huge costs by taxing corporations and issuing bonds. Soon Long had become the absolute ruler of the state, in the process lifting Louisiana from near feudalism into the modern world almost overnight, and inspiring poor whites of the South to a vision of a better life. As Louisiana Senator and one of Roosevelt's most vociferous critics, "The Kingfish," as he called himself, gained a nationwide following, forcing Roosevelt to turn his New Deal significantly to the left. But before he could progress farther, he was assassinated in Baton Rouge in 1935. Long's ultimate ambition, of course, was the presidency, and it was doubtless with this goal in mind that he wrote this spirited and fascinating account of his life, an autobiography every bit as daring and controversial as was The Kingfish himself.
- Da Capo Press
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Thanks to the fascinating Ken Burns documentary, "Huey Long," 1985, for including the title of this engaging autobiography. The Long political machine pretty much evaporated after his assassination and, as history is written by the winners, it is refreshing to read an explanation in Long's own words of some of the actions, events, motives, and methods his detractors attacked, otherwise questioned, or outright misrepresented. For the most part, I think, Long's words simultaneously resound with down-home, small-town genuineness and the undeniable brilliance of a man who passed the bar exam after as little as one or two semesters of undergraduate study and a single year at the Tulane University Law School. Huey Long was a very persuasive speaker and writer who once boasted, "I can sell anything to anybody," but, together with the Burns documentary, I'm ever more thoroughly convinced that there has been an ongoing campaign by various special and corporate media interests to besmirch the memory of this tireless champion of the downtrodden and powerless. Long's thinking regarding his "Share Our Wealth" program seems especially applicable in these times of increasing income inequality and greater consolidation of assets which -- absent the means of more equitable redistribution via aggressively progressive income tax, inheritance tax, and other ideas Long proposed and/or supported -- spell doom for democracy, the so-called American Dream, and even the very idea of "America" itself. Five stars.