White tells Long story

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 27, 2006

Vidalia &8212; Huey P. Long was a colorful character with an unquestionable thirst for power and was an unforgettable part of Louisiana history.

That&8217;s what author Richard D. White Jr. told a room full of people wanting more of the story on the character White&8217;s most recent book was written on.

Kingfish: The Reign of Huey P. Long, written by White, is a book William Coleman called needed. Coleman is the grandson of Sheriff Elliot Coleman from Tensas Parish. Elliot Coleman, one of Long&8217;s bodyguards, killed the man who assassinated Long &8212; Carl Weiss.

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&8220;There are so many misconceptions and contradictions about Huey Long that this book needed writing,&8221; William said. &8220;This is about why he was Huey and why he did what he did.&8221;

White, a native of Williamsburg, Va., grew up with a mother who was a historian, simply putting the love of history in his blood, he said.

&8220;I wrote this book not only for the people in Louisiana, but for the people in Iowa and Maine, to let people know that that kind of democracy existed,&8221; White said. &8220;I spent a lot of time in this book painting a picture and letting Huey Long talk. I used a lot of dialogue and tried not to use any modern words to make it as interesting as I could.&8221;

White spoke of the things Long pursued and revealed the many character traits he portrayed. Long was a politician who funneled all his actions to the very reality of who he was &8212; a power hungry politician with ideas on politics that were extreme, yet heart-felt.

&8220;In many ways, this book wrote itself,&8221; White said. &8220;Just when you think Long can&8217;t go any further in pushing the system, you turn the page and he does.&8221;

White has written in numerous scholarly publications and is the Marjory B. Ourso Excellence in Teaching Professor at LSU, where he has taught for the last nine years.

White received his Ph.D in public administration from Pennsylvania State University, an MBA from Purdue University and a B.A. in political science form Old Dominion.

White called Louisiana politics unlike any other in the country and said the state was the only one with no experience when democracy took over.

&8220;There is nothing like the closeness of relationships in Louisiana,&8221; White said. &8220;We don&8217;t trust leaders or politics, and when politicians are corrupt and screw up, we don&8217;t hold them accountable. When you deal with that difference, you always trip up on Huey Long.&8221;

Concordia Parish Library, Vidalia Comfort Suites, The Louisiana Center for the Book and Delta Bank hosted the event.