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Huey Long Paperback – August 12, 1981


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 944 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; 1st Vintage Books ed edition (August 12, 1981)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0394747909
  • ISBN-13: 978-0394747903
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #117,120 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, this work describes the life of one of the most extraordinary figures in American political history.

From AudioFile

Finding insufficient material about politician Huey Long to adequately capture his past, the author sought hundreds of personal histories from family, friends, and acquaintances. They form the structure of an intimate biography, the kind to savor. Long, an unlikely mix of self-interest and altruism, led a life of scheming and intrigue worthy of becoming a novel. Many Louisianans populate the story, and Tom Weiner gives them perfect Southern accents. He mimics Martin Berman, the 1920s mayor of New Orleans: "You can make prostitution illegal in Louisiana--but you can't make it unpopular." Weiner employs a sharp, authoritative tone for Long, telling his amusing and sometimes apocryphal stories. The combination of excellent material, skillful composition, and Weiner's engaging narration makes this audiobook easy to recommend. First published in 1969, the hardback was awarded both a Pulitzer Prize and a National Book Award. J.A.H. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award © AudioFile 2009, Portland, Maine --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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I would recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in politics and history.
T.K. Norman
Though I typically do not read & am not interested in historical reads, I thoroughly enjoyed this book.
FOE I
This is a very fair and balanced biography and the author's writing style is marvelous.
Dennis Phillips

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

104 of 108 people found the following review helpful By Dennis Phillips on May 9, 2004
Format: Paperback
Academic historians spend a lot of time complaining about the merits of so called popular history. This is of course mostly due to the fact that popular histories outsell what the academics turn out causing the academics to cry foul. I have read a fair amount of both types of history and have always felt that if the academics would turn out books that weren't so dull they could attract readers also. In his biography of Huey Long, T. Harry Williams delivers absolute proof that academics can turn out extremely interesting books. This book is fascinating from cover to cover and anyone who is considering a career in government should read this biography of one of the cleverest politicians of all time.
Historians often crucify the Kingfish but Williams doesn't follow that course. He simply presents the story and lets the reader decide whether Long was a hero or a villain. Huey's tactics were ruthless there is no doubt but in order to break the power of the Bourbon ruling class of Louisiana there was little alternative. This elite ruling class was thoroughly entrenched and had been grinding the people of Louisiana under their feet for years. Long may have indeed become a dictator but he broke the power of the Bourbons and brought Louisiana out of the 18th century. Huey's list of accomplishments is far too long for a review of this type but there is one area that must be mentioned. Huey gave to the people of Louisiana the key that would open the door to a brighter future by finally giving people a chance to get an education. For the first time children in Louisiana received free textbooks and LSU was built into a major institution of higher learning. He also created a medical school at LSU so those qualified citizens of the State that couldn't pay the high tuition at Tulane could still become doctors.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Mark Greenbaum on August 20, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Since reading Williams' great bio of Huey Long, I have become fascinated by the Kingfish and have been looking for anything about him to absorb. That says a lot about the book. While Caro's books on LBJ are considered the gold standard of political bios, this book is slightly better. It is so detailed and so fascinating that you can breeze through the nearly 1000 pages in no time.
I suppose the one thing that stands out is how Williams is able to effectively show that Long was not the political boogeyman he is often painted as by historians like Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. and many others. Yes, Huey was a flawed man and showed some dictatorial shades. But he also did many great things for Louisiana and was forced to use political heavy-handedness to deal with the vicious party machines that had controlled Louisiana prior to Long's emergence in 1928.
One could argue that Williams was a little too pro-Kingfish. He attempts to tone down many of Huey's character flaws and doesn't spend much time on Long's movement of state militia troops into New Orleans in an attempt to oust Mayor Walmsley. Nevertheless, despite this flaw, the book does well to balance against the very anti- Long views espoused by most historians.
I would suggest reading this book along with Garry Bouldard's book on Long's "siege" of New Orleans, and Ken Burn's outstanding Long biodrama. Both are available here on Amazon. Either way, this book was the best biography I have ever read and I would recommend it to any one with an interest in politics or with an interest in reading a compelling book.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Mickey Rouse on November 3, 1999
Format: Paperback
Many on-line reviews of the book critique it as "slow", "plodding", "pro-Long", etc. Any definitive biography by definition covers all available detail on the life of its subject. Harry Williams does that indeed. In fact, by the standards of biographers such s Barbara Tuchmann, it is somewhat restrained. It is probably impossible to be ambivalent regarding Huey Long, but Willimas does look at hims as objectively as could be imagined. He seems to separate Huey the man- often coarse and boorish- with Long the master politician. Indeed, in the chapter "Power Unto Himself", he points out that Long changed, with the focus of his efforts shifting from what he could do for Louisiana to what he could do for himself. It is a masterful book, and after reading it, one feels tempted to style oneself as an authority on Long. If there is a serious shortcoming, there is no epiloug to analyze the Long legacy, itself huge as personified by brother Earl and son Russell.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Tom Munro on November 28, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a fascinating book about a controversial political figure who is now probably largely forgotten. Huey Long was a politician from Louisiana. He initially trained as a lawyer and although young he had a remarkable record in that profession. He then won election to a regulatory commission and used it as a stepping stone to being governor of the state. Prior to Long the regulatory commission had done little but he attempted to use it as a means of increasing state revenue and controlling big companies. He was able to turn it into an effective body despite only being in his twenties when gaining a position on it.
Long was seen at the time as a populist and a radical. The issues he fought for however would now seem main stream. He was elected on a platform of providing free schoolbooks to children and in surfacing the states roads. (At the time he was elected only some 600 miles of Louisiana's' roads were surfaced.) Other projects he was involved in were the construction of bridges in especially to allow commercial access to New Orleans the upgrading of its port and the provision of natural gas to city dwellers. In addition he also spent funds on education and opened a medical school to increase the number of available medical practitioners. One of his achievements was to expand University Placements in such a way that poorer students would have access to higher education.
His interest in education extended to attempts to provide equality of opportunity in public schools. The quality of education varied from district to district and he set up an equalization fund in an attempt to overcome the problem. He also set up adult literacy classes and reduced adult literacy amongst both white and Afro-Americans substantially.
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