I was struck by what I saw as the similarities in Wallace's appeal, if not all his policies, to that of the modern Tea Party. Granted, the Tea Party crowd would not have cared for all his spending priorities, but the naked appeal to anger, along with the anti-Washington and anti-intellectual sentiments, resonates as a not-so-distant ancestor to the current movement. In his rhetoric, Wallace gave voice to similar frustrations, even though his economic populism would likely have few takers amongst most Tea Party adherents. Having grown up watching Wallace, I was impressed with how well Smith captures the essence of the former Governor and the sections covering his rallies effectively place the reader at the scene.
Outside the Deep South, many, perhaps most, people think of George C. Wallace as nothing more than an angry racist.
But Wallace was not a racist; he was something worse: a political opportunist who used fears and frustrations to further and enhance his own political career. He survived by playing on the people's worst instincts and thrived by doing so.
A racist is at least honest, honest about his motivation for hate. Wallace was not. It was all about politics and the next election. He was a political manipulator who played to and encouraged the worst in people. There is nothing, or very little, in Wallace's past or in his political career that suggests he hated Blacks. Yet his political career was based on "keeping them in their place," the place that the lowest and worst elements of Alabama wanted them to be.
Yes, he couched it in "state's rights," but his was essentially a "keep'um in their place," agenda. And in doing so, he brought about untold violence suffering and bloodshed.
His son, George Wallace, Jr., has said that no book about his father would be complete without mentioning redemption at the end. That may well be true and this works discusses his apologies and efforts at reconciliation. The reader and the public will have to decide about that part of the Wallace story. The writer does a good job of offering it up for review and consideration.
The book starts off slow, but picks up when Wallace is elected governor. Good, and fascinating insight into what seem like never-told-before stories about the "Stand In The Schoolhouse Door" and meeting wth LBJ in the days between Bloody Sunday and the start of the Selma March. Wallace was good, but LBJ was the master. He was one of the few people capable of putting Wallace in his place, and he did just that at their White House meeting. Fascinating, real fascinating, stuff.
But in reading the book, one does wonder about the liberal use of quotation marks. Are these actual quotations or are they words the author put in quotations assuming it, or something like it, was said?
Either way, the book is good, well worth reading. As it effectively states, no losing candidate ever affected the national political scene moreso than George C. Wallace.
For those of us who lived through the Wallace Era in Alabama, this book is like a trip down memory lane, not all of it good. Some of it horrifying bad.
George C. Wallace--the master politican. There may have been none better.
Jeff Smith's "The Fighting Little Judge, The Life and Times of George C. Wallace", walks the reader through an unforgettable time in the deep south. A young George Wallace, demagogue and racist, vaults into Alabama politics and quickly gains national recognition. A defiant Wallace "stands in the schoolhouse door" at the University of Alabama, to block the entrance of its fist two African American students. As attitudes change and Wallace's "Separate but equal" mantra loses traction, we see him become a repentant man and a champion for minorities and poor people. This is a well researched book, full of interesting facts and colorful stories.
Jeff Smith has proven again that the best stories are true. I am eager to read his next book. It is said "history repeats itself" well it bears repeating when done by this thoughtful history detective. A really good read. Wonderful personality observations as well as harsh details of a time not so long ago revealed. thank you for your work a gift of compulation and appreciation of intimate. You breathe life into your characters.
Smith proves again that the best stories are true, and he does a great job of telling them. A really good read. The author always pays a close attention to detail and those of us who remember this time...knows of his accuracy. Once again...another Great Read!
Smith does a great job giving insight into the erratic actions of George Wallace. Wallace's controversial actions may cause some to not want to read about him. I disagree and feel that understanding his reasoning and dramatic change of heart in his later years is beneficial. Once again Smith does not just relay the facts, but breathe life into this fascinating man's history.