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Kingfish and His Realm: The Life and Times of Huey P. Long

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'Well proportioned and tartly written, Hair's book is notable for its conceptualization and exhaustive research, for its analysis of Long's extraordinary control of Louisiana and his role in national politics, and for its interpretation of the Long phenomenon.'--Journal of American History
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Overview

'Well proportioned and tartly written, Hair's book is notable for its conceptualization and exhaustive research, for its analysis of Long's extraordinary control of Louisiana and his role in national politics, and for its interpretation of the Long phenomenon.'--Journal of American History
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In this biography of Louisiana governor Huey P. Long (1893-1935), Hair reveals that Long's antecedents, contrary to the image he promoted, were not dirt-poor tenant farmers but landowners who also held slaves right up to Emancipation. To further his political career, begun when he was elected to the Louisiana Railroad Commission in 1918, the ``Kingfish'' compounded the myth of humble origins with that of white supremacy in his search for popular support. In 1931, while serving as governor, Long declared his dedication to racial purity by forcing an appointed official to prove that she had no Negro blood. Elected to the U.S. Senate in 1932, Long soon took control of the state's courts, school system and militia, his style of leadership earning him such labels as demagogue and dictator. Before his assassination in Baton Rouge three years later, he was seen as a potential presidential candidate promoting a national distribution of wealth with his ``Share Our Wealth'' program. Hair teaches history at Georgia College. (Nov.)
Library Journal
Former Louisiana governor Long was fascinating and controversial during his lifetime; mere mention of his name still evokes strong feelings in his home state. This latest biography explores the man and his political, economic, and social milieus. Drawing on many sources, including those used by T. Harry Williams in his monumental Huey Long ( LJ 9/15/69), Hair offers a less flattering portrait than Williams, emphasizing the darker side of ``The Kingfish.'' It is, nonetheless, a balanced depiction and has the advantage of being quite readable. Libraries owning the Williams volume should probably acquire this one as a complement. For all libraries.-- Melvin L. Grotberg, Hobbs P.L., N.M.
Booknews
Hair (history, Georgia College) sets the legendary Louisiana governor and his regime in the context of the history of Louisiana and the South, providing both a psychological profile of the man and his career, and a thorough treatment of his social, political, and economic environment. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Kirkus Reviews
A masterly biography of the redneck messiah who, before he was assassinated in 1935 at age 42, played a leading role on the US political stage. Setting Long and his Louisiana regime in the post- Reconstruction context of America's Deep South, Hair (History/Georgia College) provides an unsparing, albeit scrupulously documented, account of a backwoods pol whose will to power almost defies belief. The author's interpretive analysis of the self-styled Kingfish's rise and violent end represents a persuasive challenge to the standard 1969 reference (Huey Long) by T. Harry Williams, who credited the charismatic Long with a measure of benign intent. By contrast, the author portrays the politician as a calculating control freak, essentially contemptuous of his fellow man, for whom politics was a blood sport. A son of landed yeomanry, Long spent his young manhood as a traveling salesman for patent medicines and other dubious products. Having crammed his way past the bar exam, the high-school dropout practiced law for a while, soon winning a seat on Louisiana's Public Service Commission. The governorship followed, allowing Long to begin turning Louisiana into a personal fiefdom. Playing the patronage game, he rewarded friends and punished enemies, and promoted laws that made Louisiana a virtual police state. Even after surviving impeachment proceedings and moving on to the US Senate in 1932, Long retained his regional as well as local influence. A spellbinding orator, he made no secret of his presidential ambitions. Having cobbled together a populist coalition whose adherents encompassed the radical, racist likes of Gerald L.K. Smith and Fr. Charles E. Coughlin, he had a third-party candidate'splausible chance at the White House. But the dream (or nightmare) died in a hail of gunfire—and Hair leaves little doubt that the country was the better for the untimely demise of a rabble-rousing demagogue. A consistently engrossing portrait of a despot who sowed discontent among the electorate's disaffected and reaped the whirlwind just as he was hitting his stride. (Illustrations—not seen.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807117002
  • Publisher: Louisiana State University Press
  • Publication date: 2/29/2000
  • Pages: 430
  • Product dimensions: 6.45 (w) x 9.31 (h) x 1.40 (d)

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