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Wallace: The Classic Portrait of Alabama Governor George Wallace Paperback – June 3, 1996

4.2 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

George Wallace is the most important failed American presidential candidate of the 20th century. He rose to national prominence during the first of his four official terms as governor of Alabama (there was also the term served by his first wife, Lurleen, when state law prohibited him from a third consecutive run at the office) by fulfilling a promise made to a group of state senators: "I'm going to make race the basis of politics in this state, and I'm going to make it the basis of politics in this country." His commitment to the racial segregation he believed the people of Alabama wanted, when taken to the national level, led to the articulation of a conservative working-class voter demographic that was eventually harnessed by Ronald Reagan in the 1980 elections and without which the candidacies of Ross Perot and Patrick Buchanan would seem much less plausible.

Marshall Frady's Wallace is more than a political biography; it is a portrait in words. It crackles with the liveliness of Wallace on the Alabama campaign trail, capturing the feel of an era in which Southern politicians could still publicly refer to black Americans with a certain word without the slightest trace of self-consciousness. There are some remarkable passages within, including a conversation in which Governor Wallace tries to put Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy on the spot as to the potential deployment of federal troops to enforce the integration of the University of Alabama. Readers will also learn that, for all his racial demagoguery--of which he would repent late in life--Wallace was in many ways a rather liberal statesman, launching massive social programs, and in every way a canny politician despite appearances. --Ron Hogan

From the Back Cover

Wallace is the classic portrait of one of the century's most fiery and controversial political figures. Initially conceived as a novel, Marshall Frady's biography retains the narrative force and descriptive powers of fiction. This is a depiction of George Wallace, a seminal figure of the second half of the twentieth century whose influence has altered the course of national politics.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; 1st Random House, Inc. paperback ed edition (June 3, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 067977128X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679771289
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #501,202 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is one of the best written books I have ever read. Marshall Frady wrote using a better version of William Faulkner's "stream of consciousness" method than Faulkner himself!! But Marshall applied it to non-fiction writing. This is an incredibly up-close portrait of George Wallace, in my opinion the quintessential, greatest American politician that ever lived (whether you liked him or hated him, he was a Politician's Politician!). I found out about this book from reading a Jack W. Germond book which referenced Frady's work on Wallace. If you liked "The Death of A President" by William Manchester, which was a very detailed version of the Kennedy Assassination, then you will love Frady's style!! A must for political junkies like me (it's a hobby!).
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Frady does a great job describing the complexities of George Wallace. He was a very complex man caught up in the racial hatred of the 60s. I remember the fascination my mother and father had for him in Louisiana. Their world was changing and Wallace spoke a word that appealed to the fear. His demagoguery created quite a stir, and thankfully he sought forgiveness before his political life was over. Frady does a good job of working through this complexity. i wish he explore more of Wallace's poor treatment of Lurleen's health condition, but he may not have had those facts.
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By A Customer on November 6, 1999
Format: Paperback
Even if you don't agree with the political message or the idiological slant of this character, you will be extremely glad that you read this character depiction. This takes you through each rise and fall along with his influence on many well-known Alabama political figures.
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Format: Paperback
Has some wonderful passages, especially on Wallace's youth. Frady's biography of Billy Graham is also top-notch. He is a superb prose stylist who can evoke a setting and an age masterfully.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
While Frady does have a terrific Faulknerian writing style the biography and depiction of Wallace is no longer historically relevant. The majority of it was written in 1968, and the lack of historical perspective really shows through. Wallace would wind up being governor three more times, and Frady's novel only pays lip service to those last three terms. If you want a better biography I recommend looking at Stephen Lesher's George Wallace: American Populist or Dan Carter's The Politics of Rage: George Wallace, the Origins of the New Conservatism, and the Transformation of American Politics. If you want to learn more about Wallace's role in the Civil Rights Movement I would suggest Wayne Greenhaw's Fighting the Devil in Dixie: How Civil Rights Activists Took on the Ku Klux Klan in Alabama. Greenhaw was a reporter, Like Frady, but because he worked in Montgomery covering the Civil Rights movement from before Wallace was Governor until after his last term it gives him a much better context to interpret it.
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