Kingfish: The Reign of Huey P. Long Paperback – 19 Sep 2006
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About the Author
Richard D. White, Jr., is a professor of public administration at Louisiana State University and the author of Roosevelt the Reformer: Theodore Roosevelt as Civil Service Commissioner 1889 1895. He lives in Baton Rouge.
"From the Hardcover edition.""
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This is not the definitive life of Huey Long -- that honor goes to the nearly 1,000 page account by T. Harry Williams nearly a generation ago. And "Kingfish" lacks the poetic license of "All The King's Men" by Robert Penn Warren. But for the reader who desires a readable story and wants the controversial aspects of Huey Long's life laid out, this book will do.
The book doesn't spend much attention on Huey's early years (he was born in 1893), and focuses on the period from his successful gubernatorial run in 1928, to his Senate election two years late, to his ascension as a national figure, to his assassination in 1935. In between, it provides delicious detailed stories and tidbits of many of Huey's often unbelievable exploits as he ruthlessly conquered every inch of Louisiana and came close to running for President and perhaps endangering FDR's re-election chances in 1936. Beyond that, the book perfectly captures the political and social mood in the Pelican State in Long's day: the sweltering heat, the unrest and bitter hatred Huey engendered in the elite and ruling classes and the equal love and hope he inspired in the long-ignored rural masses, and of course Long's larger than life persona and even bigger ambitions. I also loved the author's use of all of the classic insults Huey and his enemies hurled at each other that seem to appear on every page ("demagogic screech owl from the swamps of Louisiana").
"Kingfish" is a very good book and a quick and fun read for anyone interested in learning about Huey's life and exploits. However, if you want to read a great book, do yourself a favor and buy "Huey Long" by T. Harry Williams. Still, the two books could work well together - as "Kingfish" covers a few areas Williams' book does not - so it might be a good idea to check out "Kingfish" as an appetizer, and move on to "Huey Long" as the main course. You won't be disappointed.
I was not impressed by Mr. White taking a shot at Mr. Williams in the booknotes section...unnecessary and tasteless.
Good but not great. Read this, then go read T. Harry Williams book.