Born to poor tenant farmers in a log cabin in Graves County, Kentucky, Alben Barkley (1877--1956) rose to achieve a national political stature equaled by few of his contemporaries. His memorable public career ranged from the Progressive era to the early years of the Cold War, and he witnessed or influenced many of the key events of the twentieth century. Eventually elected vice president of the United States on the ticket with Harry S. Truman in 1949, Barkley possessed a candid demeanor and social skills that helped him become one of the most popular politicians of his day.
In Alben Barkley: A Life in Politics, James K. Libbey offers the first full-length biography of this larger-than-life personality, following Barkley in his transition from local politician to congressman, then senator, senate majority leader, vice president, and senator once again. A loyal Democrat, Barkley was instrumental in guiding Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal programs through Congress. He later took on a key role in managing domestic policy as the president became more and more immersed in World War II.
Libbey also reveals Barkley's human side, from his extremely humble beginnings to his dramatic and chilling final speech at Washington and Lee University in 1956, when he said, “I would rather be a servant in the house of the Lord than to sit in the seats of the mighty,” delivering the legendary quote moments before succumbing to a massive heart attack. A significant contribution to American history, this definitive biography offers a long overdue look at the “Iron Man” of politics.