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Mo: The Life and Times of Morris K. Udall Hardcover – December 1, 2000

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Carson and Johnson, both veteran Arizona journalists, present the late Arizona Congressman Morris Udall (1922-1998)--who served in the House from 1961 to 1991 and in 1976 nearly wrested the Democratic nomination for president from Jimmy Carter--as an extraordinarily honorable man with sound political instincts, but one whose singular commitment to public service left his personal life neglected and atrophied. Udall's first marriage ended in divorce, his second wife committed suicide and his children were emotionally estranged from their father yet still admired him. At the heart of the book is Udall's political persona, which was engaging, fair-minded, self-effacing and possessed of extraordinary wit. Even the Vietnam War, of which he was an early vocal opponent, and Watergate are highlighted only to the extent that they played a role in his career. Soberingly, the issues to which Udall devoted his considerable skills--campaign finance reform, congressional reform, tobacco-related questions, civil rights, land use and conservation, and population control--are problems still on legislative agendas today. Where Carson and Johnson shine is in the insight they provide into the inner workings of Congress and what it's like to run for president. For example, in Mo's brother Stewart Udall's opinion, McGovern's 1972 campaign was flawed because McGovern, incredibly, believed that winning the nomination made him a shoo-in for the presidency. About his own presidential bid, Mo Udall once said, "You find yourself almost wishing someone would tell you for sure--that it's no use--so you could quit." Crisp and absorbing, this book should appeal to readers from Udall's home state of Arizona and to conservationists who remember Udall's role in their fight. (Feb.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Veteran political reporters and University of Arizona professors Carson and Johnson recount the life, times, and political legacy of Morris K. Udall (1922-98), who became a political hero to many liberal Democrats during his 30-year congressional career. Udall's loss of an eye at age six, combined with his height as an adult, he was a towering 6'5" differentiated him from an early age and likely contributed to his drive to succeed, a force that shaped his life in both negative and positive ways. His enormous energy and workaholic behavior undermined his first marriage, which ended in divorce, and his second marriage, which ended with his wife's suicide. But it also propelled Udall to leadership in reforming the House of Representatives in the early 1970s. Even though this Young Turk's challenge to his party's House leadership failed, he made an even bolder attempt to claim his party's 1976 presidential nomination. Ultimately, it took Parkinson's disease to thwart "Second Place Mo's" ambition. Throughout his entire life, Udall won over his opponents and built a national following with his decency, work, and sense of humor. Political junkies will enjoy this readable biography, which merits a paperback edition for classroom use. Highly recommended. William D. Pederson, Louisiana State Univ., Shreveport
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 331 pages
  • Publisher: University of Arizona Press (December 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0816520496
  • ISBN-13: 978-0816520497
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.2 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,143,754 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey Ellis on December 26, 2001
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Its amazing how quickly we forget our leaders. After serving 31 years in Congress, running one of the most likeable Presidential campaigns in history, and nearly getting elected majority leader of the U.S. House of Represenatives, Democrat Morris Udall's political career was cruelly and tragically brought to a halt by Parkinson's disease. Once famed as perhaps the wittiest man in Congress (as well as one of the most effective), Udall died seven years after his retirement -- his sterling wit permanently silenced as the disease robbed him of his ability to speak. Most tragically, this man who -- with his brother Stewart -- co-founded both the current conservation movement and America's first Mormon political clan, died a forgotten figure, remembered only by a few political junkies like myself. Fortunately, however, Donald Carson and James Johnson have produced a wonderfully engaging biography of this man that gives us a warts-and-all portrait of a remarkable public servant. While giving ample reason why the man was so beloved, they also don't flinch from revealing why Morris Udall ultimately remained a mystery to even his own family. Unlike other political biographies, this book neither sets out to debunk or canonize Rep. Udall but instead stands as a sharp portrait of a complex man whose public service -- whether you agreed with his liberal politics or not (I certainly don't) -- made this country a better place.
Written in a breezy, conversational tone that still manages to maintain a proper biographical distance, Mo follows Udall from his strict Mormon childhood in Arizona to his first election to the U.S. House.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Jay Rochlin on February 26, 2001
Format: Hardcover
The authors do a masterful job in telling the story of one of America's most valuable public servants during the 2nd half of the 20th century.
The authors, two gifted journalists and writers chronicle the good, bad, ugly, and the excellent parts of Mo Udall's extraordinary career in congress.
And (a terrific plus) this is a very readable book. I love reading authors who can tell a complex story using simple everyday English -- the kind they use with thier friends. This is real nitty-gritty history -- documentation, footnotes, and all -- but the story reads fun and easy. I highly recommend it.
Jay Rochlin
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Steve Kelley on September 17, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Every student of U.S. politics or Arizona history should read this book. Carson and Johnson thoroughly and brilliantly chronicle the life of a man who profoundly influenced the course of America in ways that politicians of greater renown never did. The authors reveal how Mo Udall could champion the most liberal causes and yet gain the respect of someone as conservative as Barry Goldwater. Read this book and you'll wonder what turns America might have taken had Udall fulfilled his dream of becoming president.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 4, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Morris King Udall was one of the great Democrats of the 20th century. After reading this book, you will see why - and you will also regard "Mo" as one of the greatest legislators of the last century. Rep. Udall certainly was one of the most complicated.

The strength of this book rests in the writing style as the authors present a human portrait of a legendary politician who is model public servant. The writing is tight and the story is brisk. The book is a solid work that covers all the facts in Udall's public and private lives - warts and all. It is a perfect blend of personality and public policy as the book discusses Udall's towering legislative achievements regarding environmental protection and Native American rights, his legendary and futile White House run, all the while describing the price his career cost his family and, with heart-breaking impact, the toll Parkinson's Disease took on the legendary Arizonan and his unrelenting battle against the illness.

By the end of the book, regardless of political persuasion, you will regret that there are no more Mo Udalls in public life today. And, you may lament, as I did, that Morris Udall never achieved his dream of serving as President of the United States.
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