[Reading] ➽ Huey Long Author T. Harry Williams – Dailytradenews.co.uk

Huey Long chapter 1 Huey Long, meaning Huey Long, genre Huey Long, book cover Huey Long, flies Huey Long, Huey Long 82ed9dc17061f Who Was Huey Long He Was An Extraordinary Figure In American Political History A Great Natural Politician Who Looked, And Often Seemed To Behave, Like A Caricature Of The Redneck Southern Politico Yet, At The Time Of His Death, He Had Become A Serious Rival To Franklin Roosevelt For The Presidency In This Biography, The First Full Scale Analysis Of Long, This Intriguing And Incredible Man Stands Wholly Revealed And UnderstoodThe Eminent Historian T Harry Williams Has Created A Work Masterly In Its Scope And Detail This Award Winning Biography Brings Fresh Life To The Sensation Ridden Years When Long Became A Figure Of National Importance Huey Long Was Winner Of The Pulitzer Prize And National Book Award

10 thoughts on “Huey Long

  1. says:

    UPDATE Johnathan Alter was wrong See his quote below.DICTATOR in politics, a leader who rules a country with absolute power, usually by forceFASCIST an individual who favors dictatorial government, centralized control of private enterprise, repression of all opposition, and extreme nationalismDEMAGOGUE a political leader who gains power by appealing to people s emotions, instincts, and prejudices in a way that is considered manipulative and dangerousPOPULIST an advocate of the rights and interests of ordinary people, e.g in politics or the artsI don t know which is forbidding T Harry Williams massive biography 994 pages or the political career of the colorful, charismatic, controversial legend that is its focus Huey Pierce Kingfish Long served as the 40th governor of Louisiana from 1928 to 1932, and represented his state in the U.S Senate from 1932 to 1935 His term in the Senate was cut short at age forty two when he was assassinated in the halls of the state capitol in Baton Rouge, ironically, a building that he made possible At one time or the other, he was branded with all of the political labels mentioned at the beginning of the review, sometimes two or three simultaneously, and in the same breath And the truth is, he was a little of all of them However, Williams, in his critically acclaimed and award winning biography, which was published in 1969, leans toward the populist label Williams was born in Illinois and grew up in Wisconsin He eventually moved south where he taught American history at Louisiana State University LSU from 1941 to 1979 Since Long had been dead only six years when Williams took the position and the controversy surrounding him had hardly abated at all in the interim, it is only natural that historians, especially in Louisiana, would still be keenly interested in his legacy, though they might differ on the nature of that legacy Williams was also able to interview many of Long s champions and enemies who were still alive when he was conducting his research and that gives the book an air of immediacy that later biographies would not have His research also leaned heavily on oral histories that had interviewed people in both camps Williams biography is surprisingly sympathetic toward its subject Although he doesn t gloss over Long s many faults or his heavy handed tactics, he does respect what Long attempted to do and, in many cases, did do for the poor people of his state And he did accomplish a great deal This is not the place to list all the things that Long did for his state and its people especially the poor for it is a long list, but there is no doubt that the populist label does fit.I do not know any man who has accomplished so much that I approve of in one state in four years, at the same time that he has done so much that I dislike It is a thoroughly perplexing, paradoxical record Raymond Gram Swing one of the most influential print and broadcast journalists during the time of Huey Long s heyday It is also true that Long was a demagogue and that he did become a virtual dictator in his state, controlling it with an iron hand in a fashion that no state before or since has ever experienced Further, that control did not let up with his election to the U.S Senate but, on the contrary, it intensified In his short tenure in that office he spent time in Baton Rouge micromanaging the affairs of his state than he did in Washington, D.C It wasn t in his personal makeup to leave the state s business in the hands of the new governor, even though that individual was his handpicked successor and carried out each and every one of his wishes Huey Long s clownish humor and acerbic tongue make Donald Trump look like Michael Dukakis Johnathan Alter, NewsweekAs a senator, he at first supported FDR and the New Deal, but the two men became estranged because Huey didn t think that the president s economic policies went far enough At the time of his death, he was positioning himself to run for president on a third party ticket.He never got that chance, but he did force FDR to propose legislation that he favored The president did so because, as he privately stated, he wanted to steal some of Huey s thunder The result was the so called Second New Deal that was proposed by FDR and passed by Congress in 1935 It included the Social Security Act and the Works Progress Administration WPA , two programs advocated by Long.This was my second reading of Williams book and each time I was struck by the similarities that I thought Long shared with another politician Lyndon Johnson grew up under similar circumstances and he possessed the same burning ambition to be somebody and he was also known to be ruthless and to demagogue on occasion, but he also accomplished greatness Both were bigger than life personalities whose lives read like something out of a Greek tragedy And as someone once said of LBJ, they both knew what made the mule plow It doesn t surprise me that upon his retirement from LSU in 1979, T Harry Williams began immediately to write a biography of Lyndon Johnson Unfortunately, just two months after his retirement and after completing the first two chapters of the book, Williams died at age seventy.It is impossible to summarize his biography of Long, but needless to say it is a thorough documentation of the life and times of one of the most fascinating politicians this country has ever produced And Williams leaves no stone unturned or fact unexamined in making that abundantly clear There have been a number of Huey Long biographies published since and most have been less sympathetic toward its subject, but they all have to be measured against Williams monumental work.

  2. says:

    With this magisterial biography, the late T Harry Williams did for Huey Long what David McCullough did for Truman, Robert Remini did for Andrew Jackson, and Douglas Southall Freeman did for R E Lee he crafted the definitive biography Huey Long is a sterling example of biography as history It is notable too as an early academic foray into oral history Williams interviewed 295 people, including Long s family, friends, enemies, journalists, elected officials and private citizens, and delved deeply into numerous manuscript collections and official archives to shape a complete portrait of Louisiana s renowned Kingfish The results were admirable Among Williams talents was that of a skillful prose stylist With 896 pages of text, followed by a bibliographical essay and index, Williams book appeared daunting, but read well and never flagged This was not just a biography of a politician, but a perceptive history of politics in Louisiana, the American South, and the United States from the beginning of the 20th century until just before World War II Professor Williams received the National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize for Biography in 1970 for Huey Long Both awards were well deserved Any reader with a deep interest in American politics or Depression era history should pick up a copy of Williams Huey Long It earned Five Stars from me.

  3. says:

    This was one of the best biographies I ve ever read and I ve read lots of biographies Such praise is especially noteworthy in that its author was an academic historian Few biographies I ve seen combine the virtues of great writing with high standards of scholarship Few biographies of such length have so captivated me that I poured through them so quickly.Of course, I d heard about Huey Long, Governor, the Senator of Louisiana I d seen both filmed versions of All the King s Men, read one biographical book combining the stories of Huey and Coughlin, the radio priest , read many references to Long in histories of the thirties all of which left me with the unattractive two dimensional picture of a fascistic populist demagogue.Williams portrayal of Long, while fleshing out what his critics were objecting to, is generally sympathetic, if a little bewildered Williams Long sincerely wanted to help the masses and did, in fact, do so, concretely His manipulations even creations of the instrumentalities of power, his politics as it were, were most often tactically brilliant, but they were not very democratic in a parliamentary sense They had, however, profoundly democratic effects and were reconfirmed by the voters at the polls in election after election How far, then, Williams wonders, can one go, ethically speaking, in amassing power through questionable means towards commendable ends This question hangs over the whole book It is a profound one, never answered by the author, but its presence is a factor in making this biography than just a good read.

  4. says:

    An excellent biography of Huey The Kingfish Long A controversial figure to this day for those who are political history buffs and probably the only man who might have been able to mount a serious challenge to FDR in 1936 However we ll never know because he was gunned down in 1935 Professor Williams was a professor of history and approached this biography from the perspective of an academic The amount of research that went into this book is impressive Though Mr Williams seems to have admired Huey Pierce Long he is not blind to the man s faults either The biography achieves a good balance and that s important when considering Huey Long The writing is very solid and never seems to drag which is saying something considering that the bulk of this 800 paged book is dedicated to covering his political career this book could have been an instant cure for insomnia, but it isn t Finally Mr Williams accomplishes what I believe the best historians can accomplish He doesn t romanticize or tear apart the time period that Huey Long lived in Mr Williams shows that when Long lived people were no better and no worse than the present The era was not simpler nor were those living during that time somehow stronger or capable They were just people doing the best and worst that they could This is a massive work and I didn t rush my way through it, but I never put it aside and forgot about it either I ve read a few Pulitzer Prize winning books in the past and in my opinion Huey Long is one of the better winners.

  5. says:

    Mr Williams has written an excellent biography of one of America s greatest politicians, a man whose importance, I sense, has slowly eroded given time s tidal forces Mr Williams research reminds me of Robert Caro s efforts in The Power Broker and his volumes on Lyndon Johnson I felt I was living with Huey.After finishing this work, I think Huey Long defies description He was a character set to a time and place long passed You ll find the word demagogue often used in this book Sure, there s some similarity to the Donald Trumps or Hugo Chavez s of this world Huey, however, was a different character altogether I was struck with his dedication to remediating poverty, yet his dedication knew a degree of racial boundaries this was the South, and the pre civil rights South at that, after all.And what of Huey s family life His wife, his children I come away with the impression that family was, at best, an after thought Was it really What would have become of Huey Long, or this country, had he survived, rather than dying at the hand of a 29 year old ear, nose and throat specialist turned assassin Was Huey a good person Would I have voted for him I m left to ponder those thoughts Truly, a great book, worthy of five stars.

  6. says:

    Definitely one of the best political biographies of all time.When T Harry Williams published the book back in 1969, he was one of the first academically trained historians to use oral history sources to compliment his research, and unlike academic historians today who use oral histories to beat to death some tired theory, he uses them to create a stunning political yarn.Williams understood early on that Huey Long was not one to leave many written notes, so he interviewed everyone from his bodyguards to his sisters to his political opponents The picture he gets from them is of a remarkable political genius who came to run Louisiana like it was his own personal fiefdom Huey understood how to use every board or committee as a political tool Though he started out as a personal injury lawyer suing for workmen s comp, he quickly moved into a spot on the Public Service Commission, a new regulatory board that was supposed to enshrine good government principles in an objective, nonpartisan body Yet with authority over the rates of railroads, oil and gas pipelines, and telephone companies, Long used it to browbeat companies to provide services and lower prices for political friends and attack enemies When someone wanted a telephone installed in their house in Louisiana in the early 1920s, they didn t go to the company, they went to Long Same with a town that wanted a train station With this power, and with constant semi libelous attacks on the established power structure, he built up a machine that catapulted him to the governorship in 1928 Within a few years he increasingly broke down local government in the state, passing laws that allowed him to appoint members of the New Orleans Dock Board, the Highway Commission, local police deputies, and even, by the end, local teachers His Civil Service Commission extended its power over almost every job in the state, and he used that patronage and the deducts from his appointees to move himself to the Senate From there he hoped to challenge Roosevelt in 1936 and become President, as he had predicted since he was a child, but an assassin s bullet from the son in law of a jilted political rival ended his dreams The Roosevelt administration, which considered Long a leftist demagogue and the most dangerous man in the country, was not so secretly thrilled Williams is less interested in the policy aspects of Long s career than the constant machinations Like some of the best political writers he takes a real thrill in divining every underhanded trick or piece of legislative legerdemain He ranks right up there with Caro in terms of beautifully elucidating how power works in America.

  7. says:

    I begin this book with a vague idea of Huey Long I thought he was a crook who became popular and flamed out I was ignorant Huey Long was a genius who should be as well known to Americans as any other great American He was no choir boy, but his accomplishments awed me in this terrific biography that is a roller coaster read Huey Long s story extends the limit of what one person can accomplish beyond what I thought possible.Throughout history there has been a balancing act between the extremes of tyranny and chaos From the murder of Julius Caesar to the rise of Hitler the question has always been how much power to give to one person over others.On the side of tyranny have come individuals who in their own estimation cannot have enough power A strength of democracy has been the ability of the people to get rid of those who take too much power But democracy is no guarantee that this ability will be used and individuals have come along that have proven adept in working the machinery of democracy to their own advantage Meet Huey Long, a great intellect that presented himself as a regular guy and always had the down and out in mind He was perfectly suited to rise in a nation strapped by the Depression He never lost an election to office He was a tyrant the people enthusiastically endorsed.Long s story is one of an undeniably self made man Coming from a small town in Louisiana, free of any mentors and beholden to no one, Long stumbled around in his youth but early on showed the characteristics that would typify his life a love of attention, an eagerness to make a scene to get it and a complete lack of fear in challenging power starting with that of his high school principal As a result he did not graduate from high school but undeterred went on to law school providing the foundation for the political career that started with his election to the lowly Louisiana Railroad Commission.He had a clear idea of what he wanted to do to help the little guy while always enhancing his authority to do so, finding it intolerable that anyone should try to stop his plans Think of Huey as the bowling ball and his opponents as the pins The idea that he could be president of the United States was never far from his mind and he came quite close, within a year, of making the attempt against no less a man than FDR As much a man of the people as one could be, he leveraged it to become governor of Louisiana and then a Senator from that state, dominating every office he held Incredibly, he ventured into Arkansas and campaigned successfully to get a woman elected Senator from Arkansas who shared his progressive views.Huey had a gift for reaching people through speaking He could be the good old boy or the legal professional at the bar with equal ease He had an uncanny ability to see the right path to follow to achieve objectives, both short and long term Most remarkable of all, time and again he could turn what appeared to be setbacks into advances to the great frustration of a multitude of opponents He was so gifted that his opponents right up to the members of the U.S Senate essentially gave up trying to knock him down, fearing to even stand and speak against his efforts because all knew that in reply he would not only rip them to shreds but make them look like fools as well.No stranger to technology, Huey pioneered the national radio address He perfected a technique of traveling a state with sound trucks that allowed him to be heard in person by thousands of people as he raced from a crowd in one small town to another, using one sound truck to speak as another was at his next stop being set up for his arrival.What else did he do I ll mention just a few things among many.He fell in love with Louisiana State University and raised it from a third rate school to one in the top rank with a football team to matchhappily grabbing a baton to be band leader, writing fight songs for the team, submitting plays for the coach to use, running to the locker room at half time to fire up the team until a new coach prohibited it as part of his contract Oh, and he got the medical school top rated too with new facilities and a nationally recognized facultyHe gave Louisiana new roads and bridges and had free textbooks distributed to all elementary school students, including the previously forgotten black students He inspired not just Louisianans but Americans as a whole who would crowd his every appearance and rush to their radios when he was scheduled to speak FDR feared him.Huey Long was a phenomenon and a dangerous man He knew how to work democracy and never showed an interest in fascism like others on the world scene at the time There was no need because he was a master in getting the vote People can freely choose a tyrant Pick up this book and be amazed at a man who might well have become president.

  8. says:

    T Harry Williams has written what is and will most likely forever remain the most detailed biography on Huey Long It is difficult to imagine someone delving further into the minutiae of Long s highly interesting, yet tragically short, life Williams, who invested than a decade into the research and writing of this book, was in a unique position to do so he was a Louisiana native and thus familiar with Long s period of power and his accomplishments while both Governor and Senator But he was also conducting his research from the mid 1950s to the late 1960s, when many of the people who knew Long intimately were still alive Thus, he was able to gain first hand although possibly embellished with the passage of time knowledge of what type of person Long was, both out in the public spotlight and behind closed doors The result is a vivid and engaging portrait of a larger than life persona who inspired many and scared While by no means fawning, it does seem that Williams held a great deal of respect for Long He does not condone the methods that Long uses to gain control, but makes sure to emphasize that the opposition was no less unscrupulous and ruthless than Long himself was It seems clear that early on Long turned his back on his family, some of whose support he relied on heavily when first starting out in the world If not for the intervention of his brother Julius who gave money to Huey when he literally had nowhere to go and no means to get anywhere if he did have a place to go it is hard to see how Huey would have been able to subsequently have the amazing career that he did Williams is none to kind to Julius, however, instead painting him as a bitter older brother who was upstaged by the devious Huey As well, his younger brother Earl also looks less than saintly for flip flopping repeatedly between supporting and opposing Huey Williams seems to tacitly approve of Huey s handling of his brothers, and no doubt they were not angels But Huey s treatment of his wife, Rose, does not stand up well to scrutiny Theirs was not a close marriage, with Rose spending lengthy periods of time away from Huey Rose and their children often remained in Shreveport while Huey was Governor, where he spent most of his time in either Baton Rouge or New Orleans Likewise, when Long went to Washington D.C as Senator, for the most part Rose remained in Louisiana, only coming to Washington periodically, and even then her time spent there was brief It is clear that Long subordinated any attempt at family life to politics And he loved politics because it gave him power He wanted power than anything else even than his Share the Wealth campaign that he constantly preached about Long wanted to redistribute wealth throughout the country to everyone, but he wanted to consolidate power to himself alone Ultimately, his insatiable quest for power led to his sudden demise Williams fills the book with so many interesting anecdotes that, all together, they provide the reader with a good flavor of what Long s life was like, and how he operated They contain colorful language, tales of intimidation and bribery, and Long s flair for the dramatic Williams also shows long to be a completely polarizing figure people were either committed to him and his program wholeheartedly, or they despised him and went to extraordinary and illegal means to try to thwart him An example of the former comes on page 700, when Williams is talking about the also polarizing minister Gerald L.K Smith He worshiped Huey He sometimes even went into a hotel room where Huey was sleeping and curled up on the floor beside the bed The final chapter deals with Huey s assassination at the Louisiana state capitol For years Huey had feared for his life, and it turned out with good reason Williams details how there were many people and groups who literally hated Huey and were willing to do whatever was needed to stop him even if it meant killing him It is sadly ironic that a man who fretted about being killed, constantly surrounded himself with bodyguards and never went anywhere alone for fear of someone stepping out of the shadows to kill him was nonetheless shot by someone emerging from behind a pillar At the time of his death, Huey was a powerful and menacing figure to many politicians, not the least of whom was Franklin Roosevelt Huey fully intended to run for the presidency, possibly as early as the following year 1936 That he never got the chance to do so is yet another one of history s what if questions Reading the book, it was hard to like Huey because he treated so many people so cruelly He used people, and had no compunction about doing so boasted about it, in fact Yet there did seem to be a part of him that genuinely wished to help poor people in America Huey grew up poor and started with basically nothing, and he did not want other people to have to experience such hardship Unfortunately, he got carried away with his own sense of grandiosity, and obtaining power became a thing in and of itself Ultimately, his never ending crusade to obtain and wield greater and greater power cost him his life While one can make the point that Williams is overly detailed parsing through 1920s Louisiana Public Service Commission meetings does not make for enthralling reading , there are so many interesting stories involving Huey that the narrative, except for a few places, moves quickly Huey was a colorful and flamboyant figure reading about his life is, if nothing else, entertaining Grade A

  9. says:

    Excellent Huey Long was astounding He was a huge presence not only in Louisiana, but also in the nation during early 1930s especially He was probably the only person who could have possibly challenged FDR for the Democratic nomination in 1936 Roosevelt considered him one of the two most dangerous people in the country Is this why I ve only heard of him in passing in books on FDR The power that Long held over Louisiana politics, not only when he was Governor, but as a Senator was really almost hard to believe Williams tells us early in the book that Louisiana politics is unlike any other state in the nation and goes on to show us how Tom Connally said, I advise anyone who things he knows something about politics to go down to Louisiana and take a postgraduate course p 686 Many called Long a demagogue Williams disagrees and says He was different from all other Southern politicians of his time and from most contemporary politicians anywhere in the nation He quotes historian Eric Hoffer in describing the type of leader Long is a mass leader To set a popular movement in motion, He articulates and justifies the resentment damned up in the souls of the frustrated He kindles the vision of a breathtaking future He harnesses man s hungers and fears to weld a following and make it zealous unto death in the service of a holy cause p 414 Long was brilliant, a natural politician, but also one who did research on his issues and knew what he was talking about He loved power, and at some point wanted it for its own sake, but he never seemed to lose sight of who he was working for That being said, his methods were questionable to say the least Williams writes in a wonderful narrative style, yet still documents all his research very well I highly recommend this if you have an interest in American politics, or the depression era in general.

  10. says:

    On a trip to New York with my dad and my brother several years ago, we met his old college professor for dinner and he then kindly bought this book for me at a used bookstore I think in the Village, maybe It s sat on my self since then but I figured that now that I m living in Louisiana I had to finally read it.And I m glad I did This book is a detailed examination of Long s life Strangely, however, after reading it I didn t necessarily feel like I really knew him all that well He s at the center of everything crusading, looming larger than life, picking fights, and consolidating power but I never had a sense of who he really was.Williams is clearly trying to rehabilitate Long s reputation In some ways, that is welcome I admire many of Long s fundamental instincts concern about income inequality, most crucially and he did indeed consistently advocate for policies aligned with these instincts He also was clearly a quick thinker and not some deep over his head country bumpkin, as some have apparently believed.And yet the defense is too instinctive at times Williams cannot help but admit that Long s methods often were crazy Williams would probably try to be measured and say it was over the top this is a man who had a citizen with a potential October surprise kidnapped and held until after an election , and a man who consolidated power and used it so broadly that his retribution largely using the mechanisms of patronage was brutal and that his use of power often seemed to do little other than perpetuate Long s power but Williams tries to pass everything as a deviation from the true core of Long s political identity Williams also tries mostly successfully to argue that Long s rhetoric and policies were less racist than usual for a Southern politician of his time but then argues unsuccessfully that we should therefore largely ignore Long s still rather frequent use of racist rhetoric and his exclusionary, segregationist policies And Williams doesn t even really address the significance on this front of Long s close ties to noted bigots like Father Coughlin and Theodore Bilbo.So I had some complaints, but all in all I m really glad I read this biography I learned a lot about my current home state s history and about a truly fascinating political personage I m grateful to my father s old professor, Paul Wice.

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *