Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Will Rogers: A Political Life Hardcover – February 10, 2011
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
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.
Top customer reviews
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.
And then there is Rogers' friendship with the Prince of Wales, whom he called by his first name, quietly reminding everyone, (no disrespect intended) that cowboys do not believe in kings.
Nowadays old films of Rogers can be a bit cloying. There's more "aw shucks" in his delivery than we might like. But if you hang on, there's always a bite to the humor.
Richard White sticks mostly to Rogers' public life but given Rogers' prolific output, there's plenty to say. I am sorry this book did not get more attention. Will Rogers is an American worth remembering and this book makes reading about him, a lot of fun.
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.