Tempest Over Teapot Dome: The Story of Albert B. Fall
Albert B. Fall, interior secretary in the Harding administration, was the first American cabinet member sent to prison for a crime committed in office. In the Teapot Dome affair - the worst modern political scandal until Watergate - Fall leased two naval oil reserves, Wyoming's Teapot Dome and California's Elk Hills, to Harry E. Sinclair and Edward L. Doheny and received payments of $404,000 from the two millionaire oilmen. Tempest over Teapot Dome describes Fall's role in Harding's administration, his tribulations in court before going to prison in 1931, his freewheeling career in New Mexico politics, his lawyering for underdog ranchers in a bloody range war, his gut-fighting style as a U.S. senator who opposed Woodrow Wilson's foreign policy, and his strident activities as an expert on Latin American affairs, particularly U.S.-Mexican relations. Fall's belief in the unrestricted and immediate disposition of public lands was as typically western as his black, broad-brimmed Stetson hat and his love of fine horses. Stratton shows the money Fall took from Sinclair and Doheny played only an incidental role in determining his actions - that the real scandal lay in Fall's attempts to undo Progressive Era reforms - and that the recent sale of the Elk Hills Reserve - the biggest privatization of federal property in American history - makes Fall's leasing policy seem surreally visionary.
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This book tells the story of Fall from many perspectives and places it in the context of what else was going on at the time. It is well written and an interesting tale.