A Life in Politics
The story of Huey Long's son, the powerful United States senator
Russell Long (1918-2003) occupies a unique niche in twentieth-century United States history. Born into Louisiana's most influential political family, and son of perhaps the most famous Louisianan of all time, Long extended the political power generated by other members of his family and attained heights of power unknown to his predecessors, including his father, Huey.
The Long family and its followers pervaded Louisiana politics from the late 1920s through the 1980s. Being a Long--especially a son of Huey Long--preordained Russell for a political life. His father's assassination set the wheels in motion for his eventual political career. In 1948, Russell followed his father and his mother to a seat in the United States Senate. In due course, he rose to the politically eminent positions of majority whip and chair of the Senate Finance Committee.
Russell Long: A Life in Politics examines Long's public life and places it within the context of twentieth-century Louisiana, southern, and national politics. In Louisiana, Long's politics arose out of the Longite/ Anti-Longite period of history. Yet he transcended many of those two groups' factional squabbles. In the national realm, Long's politics exhibited a working philosophy that straddled the boundaries between New Deal liberalism and southern conservatism. By the time of his retirement in early 1987, he had witnessed the demise of one political paradigm--the New Deal liberal consensus--and the creation of one dominated by a new style of conservatism.
This excellent book by Michael S. Martin thoroughly captures the amazing legislative record of my former colleague, Russell B. Long. The book highlights the open-mindedness and flexibility of Senator Long in seeking the best solution to legislative challenges as opposed to being rigidly attached to a preconceived ideological direction. In today's gridlocked Congress, this book constitutes an excellent 'how to' to break the legislative impasse.- J. Bennett Johnston, United States Senator (D-LA, 1972-1997)
Michael Martin's new book on Russell Long completes the trilogy of the three most significant Longs of Louisiana, adding Russell to Huey and Earl. Russell, the son of Huey and the nephew of Earl, led a longer, more sedate, and in some ways more substantial career than the more flamboyant Longs, who flamed and flared out spectacularly. Russell worked behind the scenes, brought many federal dollars to Louisiana, and was respected by his U. S. Senate colleagues. Martin's book, thoroughly researched, flows like the Mississippi, dominating the state with comparable current. Unlike his father and uncle, Russell rarely aroused hurricane-force winds. This is a book about Louisiana, the South, and the nation, during a crucial era, eloquently written, researched with painstaking diligence by one of Louisiana's leading historians.- Glen Jeansonne, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee