Alben Barkley: A Life in Politics

Alben Barkley: A Life in Politics

by James K. Libbey


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Born to poor tenant farmers in a log cabin in Graves County, Kentucky, Alben Barkley (1877—1956) rose to achieve a national political stature equaled by few of his contemporaries. His memorable public career ranged from the Progressive era to the early years of the Cold War, and he witnessed or influenced many of the key events of the twentieth century. Eventually elected vice president of the United States on the ticket with Harry S. Truman in 1949, Barkley possessed a candid demeanor and social skills that helped him become one of the most popular politicians of his day.

In Alben Barkley: A Life in Politics, James K. Libbey offers the first full-length biography of this larger-than-life personality, following Barkley in his transition from local politician to congressman, then senator, senate majority leader, vice president, and senator once again. A loyal Democrat, Barkley was instrumental in guiding Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal programs through Congress. He later took on a key role in managing domestic policy as the president became more and more immersed in World War II.

Libbey also reveals Barkley's human side, from his extremely humble beginnings to his dramatic and chilling final speech at Washington and Lee University in 1956, when he said, "I would rather be a servant in the house of the Lord than to sit in the seats of the mighty," delivering the legendary quote moments before succumbing to a massive heart attack. A significant contribution to American history, this definitive biography offers a long overdue look at the "Iron Man" of politics.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780813167138
Publisher: University Press of Kentucky
Publication date: 04/15/2016
Series: Topics in Kentucky History
Pages: 360
Sales rank: 433,206
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

James K. Libbey, professor emeritus at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, is the author of numerous books including Dear Alben: Mr. Barkley of Kentucky and Alexander P. de Seversky and the Quest for Air Power.

Table of Contents

Prologue 1

1 Child of the Jackson Purchase 5

2 Clinton and College 17

3 Barkley's Reconciliation with His Roots 31

4 From Courthouse to Congress 45

5 Congressman Barkley and the New Freedom 55

6 The Reformer in Time of War 69

7 The Congressman in War and Peace 85

8 "Normalcy" and the Tale of Two Elections 105

9 Senator Barkley from Coolidge to Depression 125

10 Senator Barkley from Depression to the Announcement of a New Deal 145

11 The Assistant Majority Leader and the New Deal 165

12 The Majority Leader in Time of Peace 183

13 The Majority Leader from Neutrality to War 201

14 The Senator in a Time of Troubles and Triumphs 221

15 The Iron Man Becomes a Veep 241

16 The Iron Man Keeps His Mettle 259

Acknowledgments 279

Notes 281

Selected Bibliography 331

Index 339

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