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Will Rogers: A Political Life Hardcover – February 10, 2011

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Will Rogers: A Political Life + Never Met a Man I Didn't Like: The Life and Writings of Will Rogers + Quotable Will Rogers, The
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 380 pages
  • Publisher: Texas Tech University Press; 1 edition (February 10, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0896726762
  • ISBN-13: 978-0896726765
  • Product Dimensions: 1.3 x 6.4 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,018,452 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


“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 2011-03-27)

“[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 2012-10-01)

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.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I knew of Will Rogers, but did not know him. I knew "he never met a man he did not like". I know him now and wished there were more like him in our day. There were issues he did not like. He was a walking, talking, political satirist and polemist who served his nation well , both as a national and international representative . Rogers was a voice which challenged the political authority of the day in humorous , yet practical ways. He simplified the complex issues of the day when there was a vast break between the still agrarian society he grew up in and the sophisticated seats of power in the US and abroad. This book gives a view of the life span of our nation at a unique time in its life as seen by a very bright, less educated man who believed in our nation and himself. Perhaps people today think that success, skill and talent lie solely in technical skills. If one reads this book, they will learn otherwise. Will Rogers was a rural Charles Krauthammer of his day who rose to mingle and counsel with the rich, famous and most daring people of his generation . The book reads like a historical novel. It is well worth the investment of any reader.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Robert Hines on June 15, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I decide to read this book after devouring Dr. White's book "Kingfish". I found it to be just as entertaining and well written as the first. I have purchased additional copies to give as gifts to my father and father-in-law.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Robin on November 30, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Of all the things Will Rogers did, act in movies, perform on Broadway, act as a roving ambassador, raise funds during national disasters, how amazing it is that his political writing should be most relevant to us today. Richard C. White's comprehensive and entertaining book goes a long way toward explaining why Rogers's writing still resonates.

I grew up in the 1960s when everyone over the age of fifty, remembered Will Rogers. He was quoted often, almost as a member of the family. When people remembered them they would smile, and look wistful. Rogers died too young, and when he died, a lot of joy went out of American life.

Rogers's political humor was based on his ability to, gently, point out the obvious. You didn't have to agree with his politics to see that he had a point. And Rogers's was careful to show respect for those with whom he disagreed, without giving in on his main point. White does a good job of explaining how, dispite disagreements, he stayed on good terms with presidents and charmed and was charmed by those with whom he disagreed. There's an interesting story about Rogers's relationship with John D. Rockefeller. Initially Rogers makes Rockefeller the butt of jokes, but then he is introduced to Rockefeller who invites him to his home. Rogers's gets to know Rockefeller and is impressed. This might sound like a case of a celebrity getting snowed by a rich operator except that Rockeller does something that lets you know why Rogers was impressed. Rockeller makes a point of coming to see Rogers at his show in Florida, and brings not only his family, but all of his servants with him.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In the postscript to this book, Will Rogers is described as an "ambassador without portfolio". This description as well as "minister without portfolio" (look it up on wikipedia) aptly describe Will Roger's role in both international and domestic affairs. I agree with the other two reviewers, one who essentially wrote they didn't really know about Rogers before reading this, and the other that wrote it's as easy to read as a (well-written) historical novel. I learned about Rogers' influence on leading issues of his day such as repealing Prohibition to providing disaster relief (1927 Mississippi Flood) and economic relief (after the Stock Market crash of 1929), while never feeling any boredom or other discomfort in the learning.

To his credit the author does not shy away from occasionally painting Rogers in a negative or, at least enigmatic, light, while the reader is largely left to judge for themselves, with many of the issues having counterparts to this very day. In a couple of instances I found the organization of the material to be less than stellar, such as the chapter "Rooting out Political Corruptness" that spends perhaps one third of it's material on the topic, and other places where summaries are interspersed like non-sequiturs in the middle of chapters. Perhaps these warts warrant just 4.5 stars but I'm giving the author the benefit of the doubt here.
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