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One Step From The White House: The Rise And Fall Of Senator William F. Knowland
by Gayle B. Montgomery And James W. Johnson
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William F. Knowland was a leading figure in Republican politics during the 1950s. As Senate Majority Leader, he was instrumental in shaping government policy throughout the decade and played a key role in the appointment of Earl Warren to the Supreme Court. But he left Congress to run for governor in his native California in 1958, hoping to set a presidential campaign in motion, and instead brought his political career to a halt. Biographers Gayle B. Montgomery and James W. Johnson both worked for Knowland at the Oakland Tribune, which he published from 1966, taking over after his father's half-century reign, until depression and debt led him to suicide in 1974. Their account of his life is notable for its thoroughness of detail, which--by explaining just how much power Knowland held and just how far he fell--renders its tragic tale all the more powerful.
From Library Journal
Authors Montgomery and Johnson worked as journalists at the Oakland Tribune, the newspaper once owned by the Knowland family, which originally propelled the Knowlands into California politics. Knowland served in the California assembly and the army before being appointed to fill a vacant U.S. Senate seat in 1945. In 1957, he left the Senate to run for governor of California, losing in an avalanche of votes for Edmund G. "Pat" Brown. Knowland then experienced a personal decline that ended in a failed marriage and the loss of the family fortune. While the book is well written and researched, and Knowland's association with Earl Warren and Nixon provides some insight into those famous Californians, the reader must follow the tragic life of an "also ran." In the end, Knowland wound up taking his own life in despair in 1974. Recommended reading that will appeal to political historians or those interested in California politics.?Mark E. Ellis, Albany State Univ. Lib., Leesburg, GA
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
During the Cold War years of the 1950s, William F. Knowland was one of the most important figures in American politics. As the Republican leader of the U.S. Senate, the wealthy California newspaper heir was recognized and respected by millions. His influence with President Eisenhower led to Earl Warren's appointment as chief justice, and Knowland set in motion a U.S.-China policy that remains part of our international direction today. Yet he committed suicide in 1974, following a personal decline that included political humiliation, a ruined marriage, and the loss of his family fortune.
This is the first full-scale biography of Bill Knowland, written by two journalists who came to know him after he left Washington in 1958. Gayle B. Montgomery was a political editor at the Oakland Tribune, the newspaper owned by Knowland's father, the power-wielding Joseph R. Knowland. James W. Johnson was a Tribune editorial writer. Both men worked with Knowland when he returned to the newspaper after giving up his Senate seat in a failed bid to become governor of California. Knowland lost the governorship race to Edmund G. (Pat) Brown; had he won, many observers felt Knowland would have had a clear shot at the White House.
This is a book not only about Mr. Republican, but also one that illuminates the strengths and deficiencies of Republican party politics during the years when the party was at its zenith. In portraying the life of Bill Knowland, the authors cast a glaring light both on the machinations of political power and on the Republican establishment's aspirations in the Warren-Eisenhower era.
From the Inside Flap
"Readers with an interest in American politics, California politics, and the recent history of our time will be overwhelmed by the Greek tragedy aspects of Knowland's life. This is a political biography of national significance and investigative journalism of the highest order."--Kevin Starr, State Librarian of California
From the Back Cover
"Readers with an interest in American politics, California politics, and the recent history of our time will be overwhelmed by the Greek tragedy aspects of Knowland's life. This is a political biography of national significance and investigative journalism of the highest order." (Kevin Starr, State Librarian of California)
About the Author
Gayle B. Montgomery is a former political editor of the Oakland Tribune. He now lives in Concord, California. James W. Johnson is Associate Professor of Journalism at the University of Arizona, Tucson.
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