“John Stewart, Stephen Colbert and Molly Ivins owe a debt to Rogers, as does Rush Limbaugh when he’s actually funny and not just mean. But in his day, Rogers was bigger than all of them. . . . Proving one unelected man’s influence isn’t easy, but White makes a convincing case that Rogers had plenty.” –-New York Times Book Review
(John Schwartz New York Times Book Review
“[A] welcome and necessary book. . . . White’s valuable and timely study will reintroduce a wide range of readers to the man who . . . exercised the political power of laughter borne not of cynicism or enmity, but celebratory democracy.” —Journal of American History
(Peter M. Robinson Journal of American History
From the Inside Flap
He was the top male box office attraction at the movies, one of the most widely read newspaper columnists in America, a radio commentator with an audience of more than 60 million, and a globetrotting speaker who filled lecture halls across the land. But how did humorist Will Rogers also become one of the most powerful political figures of his day?
From just before World War I, through the Roaring Twenties, Prohibition, and the Great Depression, Rogers provided a refreshing yet sobering appraisal of current events and public policy. Through him, millions formed their opinion of President Wilson's quest for a League of Nations, debated freedom of speech and religion during the Scopes Monkey Trial, questioned the success of several disarmament conferences, took pity upon the sufferers of the Great Flood of 1927, and tried to grasp the awful reality of the Great Depression.
Rogers visited Washington often to attend congressional sessions and official receptions, testify at hearings, meet with cabinet officers, and speak at the exclusive Gridiron and Alfalfa Clubs. His open access to the Oval Office, the Senate cloakroom, and other inner sancta of national power was unmatched for someone not holding public office.
In this groundbreaking biography Richard D. White argues that the nation's most popular entertainer was not only an incisive political commentator but also a significant influence upon national leaders and their decisions.