Legacy to Power: Senator Russell Long of Louisiana

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Paragon House, Jan 1, 1992 - Biography & Autobiography - 458 pages
Russell Long towered over the U.S. Senate for almost four decades as one of the most powerful men in Washington and the nation. He was a politician's politician, always operating behind the scenes, masterfully pulling the levers of the legislative process in a unique and colorful fashion.
Legacy to Power tells Russell Long's story and the larger story to which it belongs - the fascinating tale of the Longs of Louisiana, one of America's greatest political dynasties. For almost six decades, the Long family dominated Louisiana politics: Russell's legendary father, populist senator Huey Long, his flamboyant Uncle Earl, a three-term Louisiana governor, and his mother, who served in the Senate after Huey's death, were among the many Longs in public office. When Huey Long died from an assassin's bullet in 1935, Russell, aged sixteen, became heir to his father's powerful political legacy. His entry into politics in 1948 was kindled by an obsession to rehabilitate his father's tarnished reputation. Elected to the Senate the day before his thirtieth birthday, he embraced some of Huey's populist politics but soon acquired his own distinctive style. Where Huey had been fiery and impatient, Russell was quiet, respectful, and tolerant, wielding his power with a velvet glove.
This is also the story of how the Washington political game evolved after World War II and how Russell Long mastered the game by constantly outwitting his more sophisticated legislative foes. Long - who served with eight presidents from Truman to Reagan - played a role in most foreign policy issues of his time, including the perennial debate over foreign aid, the Korean conflict, and the divisive Vietnam War. During his chairmanship of the Finance Committee, Long was at the center of most of Lyndon Johnson's Great Society programs of the 1960s and 70s. He became what his father abhorred - the ultimate Washington insider - and his political technique was so refined that Newsweek once said Russell Long could "outtalk, outfoot, and outfox just about any man in the Senate." The last of the Senate's great southern barons, he was praised from all quarters, Republicans and Democrats alike, when he retired in 1987.
This fast-paced and sharply written biography full of political intrigue, personal insight, and colorful anecdotes of Washington life - from the backroom politics that brought a football team to New Orleans to the spirited filibusters and wily compromises that shaped the nation's civil rights laws. Sometimes critical in its assessment of Long, Legacy to Power is a celebration of a great and tragic dynasty that survived an assassination and rose to new heights of power, only to find its members often pitted against each other. Despite their differences in style and method, Russell Long never wavered in his abiding affection for his family's powerful legacy and was dedicated always to the compassionate ideas that spawned this extraordinary political dynasty.

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LEGACY TO POWER: Senator Russell Long of Louisiana

User Review  - Kirkus

Adroitly told biography of Russell Long, longtime US senator from Louisiana, by his former press secretary. Long's legendary father, Huey (``Kingfish'') Long, was assassinated when the future senator ... Read full review


User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Long's decision not to seek reelection to the Senate from Louisiana in 1986 brought an end to almost four decades of service in that body. The son of former Louisiana governor and senator Huey Long ... Read full review


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