The story of Alabama's governors has been often bizarre, occasionally inspiring, but never dull. Several of the state's early governors fought duels; one killed his wife's lover. A Reconstruction era-governor barricaded himself in his administrative office and refused to give it up when voters failed to reelect him. A 20th-century governor, an alumnus of Yale, married his first cousin and served as an officer in the Ku Klux Klan. This collection of biographical essays, written by 34 noted historians and political scientists, chronicles the foibles and idiosyncrasies, in and out of office, of those who have served as the state's highest elected official. It also describes their courage; their meaningful policy initiatives; their accomplishments and failures; the complex factors that led to their actions or inaction; and the enormous consequences of their choices on the state's behalf. Taken together, the essays provide a unified history of the state, with its recurring themes of race, federal-state relations, economic development, taxation, and education. Alabama Governors is certain to become an invaluable resource for teachers, students, librarians, journalists, and anyone interested in the colorful history and politics of the state.
Samuel L. Webb is Associate Professor of History at The University of Alabama at Birmingham and author of Two-Party Politics in the One-Party South. Margaret E. Armbrester is Assistant Professor of History at The University of Alabama at Birmingham and author of John C. Persons: Citizen-Soldier.