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Strom Hardcover – May 24, 2005


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About the Author

Jack Bass teaches at the College of Charleston. He has written for the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times and is the author or co-author of six nonfiction books, including The Transformation of Southern Politics, Taming the Storm, winner of the 1994 Robert Kennedy Book Award, and the 1998 biography, Ol' Strom, on which he collaborated with Marilyn Walser Thompson.

Marilyn Walser Thompson was an award-winning reporter in South Carolina, where she covered Thurmond in the late 1970s. She later served as assistant managing editor for investigations at The Washington Post and in 2004 became vice president and editor of Kentucky's Lexington Herald-Leader. Thompson is the author or co-author of three previous nonfiction books.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: PublicAffairs; New edition edition (May 24, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1586482971
  • ISBN-13: 978-1586482978
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.6 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #441,924 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Dennis Phillips on August 31, 2005
Format: Hardcover
To the casual observer Strom Thurmond would not seem to be a complicated man. The 1948 Dixiecrat presidential candidate would seem to be the typical Old South politician, a white supremacist who moderated his tone as the years went by out of political necessity. Jack Bass and Marilyn Thompson have however done a masterful job of showing just what a complex man this legend of the Senate really was.

The two authors of this book are imminently qualified to write what may be for years to come the definitive biography of Strom Thurmond because both spent years as journalists covering the Senior Senator from South Carolina. Thompson was the reporter that Strom's illegitimate daughter Essie Mae Washington-Williams contacted about her story after her father's death and Bass kept such a critical journalistic eye on Thurmond that the Senator once referred to Bass as a skunk.

Strom Thurmond is presented in this book not as a stereotype but as a man, and a very complex man at that. This is a man who as School Superintendent of his home county went out of his way to fight illiteracy among blacks. He is also a man who led the fight to repeal South Carolina's poll tax and was primarily responsible for additional federal aid to traditionally black colleges. Here also was a man who counted African-Americans among his closest and most able advisors, a man who voted in favor of the King holiday, and the only Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee who voted in favor of Bill Clinton's African-American nominee for Secretary of the Air Force. On the other hand here was a man that said that all of the armed forces of the United States could not force South Carolina to integrate and who led the segregationist bolt from the Democratic Party in 1948.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Jason Matthews on January 3, 2006
Format: Hardcover
It is easy to characterize Thurmond as the typical racist "Southern Politico." However, Bass and Thompson even-handedly portray Thurmond as a truly complicated man who was a key barometer of the last fifty years of American politics.

The authors succeed splendidly in capturing the transformation of the Southern politics and do a masterful and fair job of capturing the complex human relationship between Thurmond and his illegitimate African-American daughter Essie Mae Washington-Williams. Thus, making this book is an extremely readable, fair, and satisfying biography.

This is a must-read for anyone interested in Southern history, civil rights, politics, and biography. And, for the non-Southerner, this book is very enlightening.
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By Michael on December 19, 2005
Format: Hardcover
No individual displayed a higher level of influence in 20th century South Carolina politics than Strom Thurmond. The man most known for his Southern stance to maintain segregation during the mid 20th century would go on to become the "longest serving senator in United States History," when reelected in 1997.

America has obviously undergone radical changes in the last 50 years with regard to race, so how did an avid racist manage to get reelected for so many years during tremendous social change? Did Strom, ever the politician, simply pander to the inevitable black vote or did he genuinely have a change of heart about the black populace?

Dr. Bass and Marilyn Thompson's book, "Ol' Strom," was an eye-opening book for me, and I would recommend it to anyone who wants to know more about South Carolina and Southern politics within the last century. Unlike most South Carolinians, I didn't know much about Strom Thurmond because I did not grow up in this state. After reading this book, I don't believe that one can truly begin to grasp South Carolina until you understand who Strom Thurmond was because he represented the sentiment of a large portion of the people. As Strom's mentality on racial issues matured, I don't think it's any accident that a large portion of the white populace whom he represented matured with him.
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