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Liebling s account of the lesser shorter Long brother at the end of his political road soars in many moments Liebling imagined Earl Long to be a peckerwood Caligula and was pleased to be disabused of the notion, though truth be told, Earl was plenty crazy, and the instances on display in this book are uproariously funny There is a liberal use of phonetics at work in the book, which helps capture aural argot at work in New Orleans and Louisiana on a whole, and which is particularly strong in a passage in which Liebling asks a question of a political bagman, only to have it answered with Damfino I was on the floor.A few years ago, an anthology called Just Enough Liebling came out that includes the best parts of The Earl of Louisiana , and I d recommend reading that, because it focuses on Earl and not the byzantine backstage electoral processes of parish elections If you haven t read Liebling, though, treat yourself. A J Liebling is on of the great essayists in American literature He wrote beautifully on a wide range of subjects but in this book he focuses all his reportorial skills on covering Louisiana politics as epitomized by Governor Earl Long Long, the brother of the famous Huey, emerges as a character who if placed in a novel would be characterized as unbelievable Set during the run up to the 1960 gubernatorial election in Louisiana the book zeros in on the byzantine plotting of a host of disreputable politicians, most of whom are blatant racist bigots, as they jockey to gain advantage in the Louisiana jungle primary Long is a scoundrel, most certainly dishonest and probably crazy but he emerges from the wreckage as the most able and humane politician of this motley crew Such is Liebling s gifts as a writer that the reader is totally entertained as opposed to disgusted by the whole weird extravaganza In the Earl of Louisiana the perfect writer encounters the perfect subject. It may be denial on my part that makes the territory covered seem so improbable Though just a toddler, I was alive during the last campaign of Earl Long of Louisiana, so surely things could not have been so different during my time on earth Right But then again sometimes 50 years is a long time, and a lot can change Plus the early 60s was an amazing time of change and Earl Long comes across to my eyes as the last of a unique breed During Earl Long s last year in the Governor s office he had some sort of break down, declared mentally unstable and flown against his will to a hospital in Texas under direction of his wife and nephew When Earl got out he continued campaigning for another term even though ineligible His announced plan was to quit shortly before his term expired have the lieutenant governor take over and therefore he would not technically be taking another consecutive term.Anyway that was the story that brought Liebling from New York to New Orleans, a place he obviously fell in love with.As for the spirit of the times, it is hard to imagine such blatant racism, so cruel that it makes the Longs Huey and Earl come off as quite magnanimous Or maybe not..the Long family s position on the Southern issue They do not favor the Negro, a Negro educator once told me, but they are less inflexibly antagonistic than the others, pg 23Race is a prominent element is this record of that election year 1959 but for all of Liebling s northern liberality I don t think he ever mentions talking to an actual black person, well aside from the quote just above I guess.A.J Liebling must have been quite a character and I like his presentation, but I think it does have the feel of a different age of journalism I like it, but it is different One thing is that I found it hard to prepare quotes from the book for examples in this review, because the ones I really liked were not one liners He sets up a small story and it takes paragraph or two to finish it off It is well worth it but you can t just take one sentence to show how good he is.His analysis is a little free wheeling, such as one of his recurring observations that New Orleans is part of the Arab and Mediterranean cultureThe Mediterraneans who settled the shores of the interrupted sea scurried across the gap between the Azores and Puerto Rico like a woman crossing a drafty hall in a sheer nightgown to get to a warm bed with a man in it Old, they carried with them a culture that had ripened properly, on the tree Being sensible people, they never went far inland All, or almost all, the interior of North America was therefore filled in from the North Atlantic coast, by the weakest element in that incompletely civilized population those who would move away from salt water.The middle of Louisiana is where the culture of one great thalassic littoral impinges on the other, and a fellow running for Governor has got to straddle the line between them Pg 89See what I mean about trying to pull one bit out One piece is tied to another, then another and suddenly I am pasting the whole page in here.His Levant Louisianna connection idea is, I think, based on and earlier time s clich that was embedded in people s minds about the nature of the Arab world then.On meeting the mayor of New Orleans The ceremonial coffee is a link between Louisiana and the rest of the Arab world It is never omitted even though your host is going to throw you out when you have drunk it pg 54Louisiana and New Orleans especially must have been quite a sight back then Morrison sees no chance of stemming the tide of Federal court decisions He suffers under the disadvantage of living in the contemporary world, while the Perezes and Rainachs remain in the Jurassic It is the gift of the Longs that they could straddle the intervening million years Pg 179One of the last political memories before I left the Great State was of the Governor devising political catfish bait The cat is not a fish to be taken on bird feathers with whimsical names It demands the solid attraction of chicken guts surrounded by then aura of asafetida Smells bad, but cats love, the manual says But other hands had been setting other troutlines with baits even persuasive to the legislators.They the statesmen left the baits on his hooks untouched they did not seem to be hungry Pg 145And now Uncle Earl himself We got the finest roads, finest schools, finest hospitals in the country yet there are rich men who complain They are so tight you can hear em squeak when they walk They wouldn t give a nickel to see a earthquake They sit there wallowin hundred dollar bills like a bullfrog swallow minners if you chunked them as many as then wan they d bust Pg 96About his rival Mayor deLesseps S Morrison of New Orleans I hate to say this I hate to boost old Dellasoups but he ll be second again he always referred to him as Dellasoups..I d rather beat Morrison than eat any blackberry, huckleberry pie my mama ever made Oh how I am praying for that stump wormer to get in there I want him to roll up them cuffs, and get out that little old tuppy, and pull down them shades and make himself up He s the easiest man to make a nut out of I ve ever seen in my life The tuppy for toupee , was a slur on Morrison s hair, which is thinning, though only Long has ever accused him of wearing a wig Pg 26 if he was going to make up with Mrs Long, and if he didn t think that would help him get the women s vote in the primary He said, If dat s da price of victory, I rather go ahead and be defeated After all, lots of men have lost elections before Pg 125Oh yeah It s a very good book. Journalist a.j Liebling wrote this account of the last 18 months of Earl Long, brother of Huey As the book begins, Earl is governor of Louisiana, just returned from Texas where he had been committed to a mental institution by his wife Blanche who perhaps did not appreciate Earl s penchant for attending strip clubs and befriending Blaze Starr, a notorious burlesque performer It is 1959 and the legislature has passed a law that a governor can only serve one term Earl had already served a term and sat out a term and then was reelected Earl decides he will resign and then run again Liebling uses the occasion to examine the great state of Louisiana divided between libertine Catholics of New Orleans and the hard scrabble Baptists in the northern part of the state Liebling likens all of this to Lebanon The divisions also were between populists like the Longs and oil interests Progressives and racists All factions had the good sense to reward their friends and punish their enemies and engage in graft Eventually Long decides he can not trust the Supreme Court to rule his way and instead runs for lieutenant governor He is defeated by Jimmie Davis , a singer who is rememebered for the song, you are my Sunshine Davis joins forces with racists to convince the Long supporters that they must abandon populism for racism Undettered, long then runs for a vacant House seat, wins the primary which is tantamount to winning the election but suffers a heart attack on the day of the vote but refuses to go to a hospital on election day for fear that his opponents would capitolize on the news He died the next day.I have spent slot of time in Louisiana and can say that this book captures the spirit of the politics of this state saints and sinners, con men, racists, big oil men, demagogues, rogues, and eccentrics They also have great food at least the Cajuns do, and great music too. [ Read E-pub ] ⚆ The Earl of Louisiana ⚖ In The Summer Of , A J Liebling, Veteran Writer For The New Yorker, Came To Louisiana To Cover A Series Of Bizarre Events Which Began When Governor Earl K Long Was Committed To A Mental Institution Captivated By His Subject, Liebling Remained To Write The Fascinating Yet Tragic Story Of Uncle Earl S Final Year In Politics First Published In , The Earl Of Louisiana Recreates A Stormy Era Of Louisiana Politics And Captures The Style And Personality Of One Of The Most Colorful And Paradoxical Figures In The State S History This New Edition Of The Work Includes A Foreword By T Harry Williams, Pulitzer Prize Winning Author Of Huey Long A Biography
This book is amazing A.J Liebling was a politics and war correspondent, but mostly he was really into food, boxing and horse racing, three subjects which he manages to relate everything to, along with ancient Greece and Napoleon He came to Louisiana right after Earl Long was committed to a sanitarium and followed Long s struggle to get back into office It s a really great portrait of the insanity of Louisiana politics. Mon dieu The race for governor of the gret stet of Louisiana in 1959 was not politics as we know it The past and Louisiana are both foreign countries For entertainment s sake if nothing else, we need Democrats of the Huey and Earl Long tradition to make a comeback Who is getting on stage nowadays to defend welfare spending for the spastics This is a fascinating, entertaining look at American politics Earl Long was Huey s brother He served as governor of Louisiana in the late 1950s, which is when Liebling went to the state to report on the gubernatorial election He expected to find just unsophisticated racist trash, but discovered a political scene and a politician that were much less easily dismissed. Essential to understanding the history of American politics and Liebling may be one of the best writers of the 20th century. A masterpiece Even if you don t like politics, this is brilliant as human drama The influence on Thompson in his Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail 1972 is obvious.