Virginia in the Vanguard: Political Leadership in the 400-Year-Old Cradle of American Democracy, 1981-2006

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ISBN-13: 978-0742552104
ISBN-10: 0742552101
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Hardcover, July 27, 2006
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Virginia in the Vanguard: Political Leadership in the 400-Year-Old Cradle of American Democracy, 1981-2006 + The Dynamic Dominion: Realignment and the Rise of Two-Party Competition in Virginia, 1945-1980 + Governing Virginia
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Editorial Reviews


Frank Atkinson is a rare combination of scholar and practitioner―recognized by all of us who have covered Virginia politics as one of the keenest minds in either party or on either side of the reporter's notebook. Virginia in the Vanguard arrives with superb timing, just as two of Virginia's most interesting and capable politicians are springing on national notice. Atkinson's work will alert readers outside Virginia to something I learned long ago―the Old Dominion has one of the most distinctive, entertaining, and occasionally outrageous, political cultures of any state in the union. (John F. Harris, Washington Post National Politics Editor and author of The Survivor: Bill Clinton in the White House)

Virginia in the Vanguard deserves a place on the bookshelf of anyone interested in the recent political history of the Commonwealth. (James R. Sweeney, Old Dominion University Virginia Magazine)

Virginia has changed from a political backwater to a powerhouse in the past quarter century―the significance of which was missed by almost everyone except Frank Atkinson. He explains―brilliantly, I'd say―how it happened and why it's so important, especially now that Virginia is not as red a state as it once was. You won't understand Virginia's pivotal role in the 2008 presidential race without Atkinson's help and, besides, Virginia in the Vanguard is a great read. (Fred Barnes, Executive Editor of The Weekly Standard and Fox News Commentator)

About the Author

Frank B. Atkinson is the chairman of McGuireWoods Consulting LLC and a partner in McGuireWoods LLP in Richmond, Virginia. In 1994-1996, he served in the cabinet of Governor George Allen as counselor and director of policy. During the Reagan administration, he served as special counsel and deputy chief of staff to the U.S. Attorney General and before that was special assistant in the Justice Department.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers (July 27, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0742552101
  • ISBN-13: 978-0742552104
  • Product Dimensions: 7.2 x 1.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,434,843 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Kevin Gentry on June 17, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Frank Atkinson's "Virginia in the Vanguard" offers a fascinating commentary on a Southern state in rapid social and political transition, just as with his first book, "The Dynamic Dominion." This book also treats you to great historical story-telling. But best of all, it introduces you to some startlingly intriguing characters.

Atkinson is a brilliant, if not artful, writer. Yet, the special appeal of this book it that it is chockful of Atkinson's first-hand, personal accounts and glimpses of an unusual cast of characters who would seem almost Shakespearian in the complexity of their ambitions, achievements -- and tragic limitations and failures.

In 1981, at a high school conference I attended in Richmond, Professors Larry Sabato and Tom Morris, commenting about the then gubernatorial race between the two young and ambitious pols Chuck Robb and Marshall Coleman, remarked that, "Virginia, the mother of presidents, hasn't been pregnant in a long time."

That since 1981 Virginia would see an astonishingly diverse range of actors take the public stage is remarkable in itself. That so many of these actors would become nationally prominent, even frontrunners for the Presidency, is all the more astonishing. But what is perhaps most intriguing is that seemingly all of these players have ultimately stumbled as if tainted by some Shakespearian curse.

Atkinson's book pretty well captures it all. And in a peculiar way, it whets your appetite for a third book which must surely come.
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Virginia in the Vanguard: Political Leadership in the 400-Year-Old Cradle of American Democracy, 1981-2006
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