Paul Simon: The Political Journey of an Illinois Original

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9780809329458: Paul Simon: The Political Journey of an Illinois Original
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With Paul Simon: The Political Journey of an Illinois Original, author Robert E. Hartley presents the first thorough, objective volume on the journalistic and political career of one of Illinois’s most respected public figures. Hartley’s detailed account offers a fully rounded portrait of a man whose ideals and tenacity not only spurred reform on both state and national levels during his celebrated forty-year career but also established the lasting legacy of a political legend.

Simon first became a public figure at the age of nineteen, when he assumed the post of editor and publisher of a weekly newspaper in Troy, Illinois. From there, he used his paper to launch a fierce crusade against the crime and corruption plaguing Madison County. This battle sparked his entry into politics, helping to land him a seat in the state legislature in 1954. While serving, he campaigned tirelessly according to his principles, earning him the mass voter approval that would usher him into the seat of lieutenant governor in 1968—the first person elected to that position who did not share party affiliation with the governor.

As lieutenant governor, Simon initiated many changes to the position, remaking it to better serve the citizens of the state of Illinois. The cornerstone of his reform plan was an ombudsman program designed to allow the people of the state to voice problems they had with government and state agencies. The program, extremely popular with the public and the press, solved problems and helped to make Simon a household name throughout Illinois. Although he faced challenges along the way, including racial upheaval in Cairo and the student and police riots on the Carbondale campus of Southern Illinois University, Simon’s outspoken honesty and strong support of his constituents earned him the utmost esteem and popularity.

While his 1972 bid for governor of Illinois ultimately failed, this did not deter Simon from his dedication to social progress. In 1974 he began his remarkable twenty-two-year career in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate, where he earned the admiration of the country for his political integrity. Despite the praise and support Simon had earned during his time in Washington, he was unable to win the Democratic presidential nomination in 1988 and returned to the Senate, winning a second term in 1990.  Simon committed time and energy to the myriad issues of interest to him, especially in the field of education, with one of his biggest successes coming with the passage of the National Literacy Act, which he sponsored. He continued to foster his ties to journalism throughout his lengthy political career, authoring numerous books, articles, and columns, all of which he used to relentlessly promote open government and social programs.

            This vivid account of the public life of Paul Simon reveals a man whose personal honor and dedication were unshakeable throughout nearly half a century in the political arena. Robert E. Hartley provides a candid perspective on Simon’s accomplishments and victories, as well as his mistakes and losses, revealing new insights into the life of this dynamic and widely respected public figure.

 

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About the Author:

Robert E. Hartley has written for publication since the age of fourteen, when he covered high school sports for his hometown newspaper. He graduated in journalism from the University of Kansas and had a thirty-year career in the newspaper business, including seventeen years in Illinois. He is the author or coauthor of seven books on history and politics, including Death Underground: The Centralia and West Frankfort Mine Disasters.

Review:

Paul Simon is the best thing that happened to me in politics, and Robert Hartley has captured our relationship with clarity and brevity.  This book, in my view, will be judged as the benchmark of Paul’s outstanding state and national career as a journalist, legislator, and educator.” Alan J. Dixon, former U.S. senator, Illinois  

Paul Simon: The Political Journey of an Illinois Original at long last provides an objective analysis of the political career of Paul Simon, one of the most incredible figures in the modern history of Illinois. This first-rate book delves deeply into the background and reasons for Simon’s admirable nonconformity. This is an unprecedented examination that goes far beyond the surface on a most admirable subject.”

—Taylor Pensoneau, author of Governor Richard Ogilvie: In the Interest of the State

Paul Simon kindles memories of Frank Capra’s classic 1939 film, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. The fictional drama features Jefferson Smith, a wholesome idealist played by James Stewart. Maintaining uncommon integrity while occupying a seat in the United States Senate, Smith emerges as a lonely voice against the corruption and unbridled cynicism often rampant in American politics.

Fast forward to the long political career of Paul Simon and one can easily see a real-life incarnation of Jefferson Smith. In his years as a leading state political figure and then as a congressman and United States senator, Simon held the high ground with a ferocious consistency that stamped him in the public eye as a politician who never, ever betrayed or lost the public trust. That put him in select company. It made him, well, an Illinois original. Robert E. Hartley realizes this originality and incorporates it in the title of his first-rate book, Paul Simon: The Political Journey of an Illinois Original.

During his 40 years in public office, Simon received heavy press coverage, beginning in 1954 with his surprising election to the Illinois House of Representatives (when he was a 25-year-old newspaper publisher), through his final term in the U.S. Senate in the 1990s. His virtues and political triumphs were extolled, and his several political setbacks — such as his failure to win the Illinois governorship in 1972 and his abortive bid for the White House in 1988 — were chronicled.

Still, an objective analysis of Simon and his career (irrespective of his own autobiography published in 1999) was lacking. Until now.

Hartley has filled this void with an incisive dissection of the background, influences and experiences that shaped Simon’s independent mindset. He does so in a telling fashion because of a knack, demonstrated in his previous books, for scholarly research and tapping resources that produce heretofore unknown insights. Hartley’s skill as an ardent digger for information was readily visible in his books on other major Illinois political figures, including Charles H. Percy, James R. Thompson and Paul Powell. Some readers who think they already know a lot about Simon are in for a detailed, but never boring, surprise.

Hartley’s writing style is an appealing mix of the down-to-earth journalist (which he once was) and academic interpreter. Yet, he is in no way ivory-towerish. His manner with words is encompassing, quite suitable for the bulk of folks who are not political junkies.

Most likely, this will be the seminal book on Simon, particularly where the first part of his life story is concerned. Most of the book deals with his political career in Illinois — the years in which, after reaching the Illinois House, he was elected to the Illinois State Senate, the office of lieutenant governor and finally to a seat in Congress. Frankly, these are the years of greatest interest to most Illinois readers. It was the era in which Simon, a son of a Lutheran pastor, displayed the courage and political candor that made him a virtual folk hero for many individuals, especially in downstate Illinois.

The book retells with engrossing detail Simon’s use of the Troy Tribune (the small paper he purchased for $3,500 in 1948) to fight political corruption in Madison County. This journalistic fervor won him acclaim, which he translated six years later into his successful race for the Illinois House as a Democrat. His victory surprised none more than the old-line Democrats who ruled the party in that part of the state. It launched the start of Simon’s never-ending independence from party machine bosses.

In the House, Simon became part of a cadre of Young Turks or Democratic mavericks who challenged their own party’s entrenched leaders (like Paul Powell), as well as Republicans, on questionable doings or issues. A compatriot of Simon in those years was Belleville’s Alan J. Dixon, another young Democratic upstart in the House. The political careers of Simon and Dixon would be intertwined from that point on, as each progressed in a parallel fashion to the Illinois Senate, then statewide office and, lastly, to Washington (where Dixon went directly to the Senate while Simon served first in the House before election to the Senate). After decades, the two continued to be viewed as political boy wonders.

Simon never lost the innocent look of a bespectacled choir boy. He also never abandoned his journalistic roots, putting together a chain of small newspapers (eventually sold), and writing numerous newspaper columns and books. The ink in his veins abetted his unusually close ties to the press, first in Illinois and then in Washington.

Simon’s name appears on little landmark legislation. But in Illinois and in the nation’s capital the media easily recognized that he stood out because of his dogged pursuit of ethical behavior by elected and appointed officials. Insisting on the transparency of government operations, the man never ceased to be a good conscience of authority.

Bob Hartley brings all of this home in a book that certainly will bolster Hartley’s reputation as a master recorder of modern Illinois political history.

the author of books about Illinois political leaders and gangsters. His next book, set for publication early in 2010, is Dapper & Deadly: The True Story of Black Charlie Harris.

(Taylor Pensoneau Illinois Times 2009-11-05)

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Book Description Southern Illinois University Press, United States, 2009. Hardback. Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Charts the political course of an Illinois legend. With Paul Simon: The Political Journey of an Illinois Original , author Robert E. Hartley presents the first thorough, objective volume on the journalistic and political career of one of Illinois most respected native sons. Hartley s detailed account offers a fully rounded portrait of a man whose ideals and tenacity not only spurred reform on both state and national levels during his celebrated forty-year career but also established the lasting legacy of a political legend. Simon first became a public figure at the age of nineteen, when he assumed the post of editor and publisher of a weekly newspaper in Troy, Illinois. From there, he used his paper to launch a fierce crusade against the crime and corruption plaguing Madison County. This battle sparked his meteoric rise into politics, helping to land him a seat in the state legislature in 1954. While serving, he campaigned tirelessly according to his principles, earning him the mass voter approval that would usher him into the seat of lieutenant governor in 1968 - the first person elected to that position who did not share party affiliation with the governor. As lieutenant governor, Simon initiated many changes to the position, remaking it to better serve the citizens of the state of Illinois. The cornerstone of his reform plans was an ombudsman program designed to allow the people of the state to voice problems they had with government and state agencies. The program, very popular with the public and the press, solved many problems and helped to make Simon a household name throughout Illinois. Although he faced many challenges along the way, including racial upheaval in Cairo and the student and police riots on the Carbondale campus of Southern Illinois University, Simon s outspoken honesty and strong support of his constituents earned him the utmost esteem and popularity. While his 1972 bid for governor of Illinois ultimately failed, this did not deter Simon from his dedication to social progress. In 1974 he began his remarkable twenty-two-year career in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate, where he earned the admiration of the country for his forthright efforts to uphold voter concerns and political integrity. Despite the praise and support Simon had earned during his time in Washington, he was unable to win the Democratic presidential nomination in 1988 and returned to the Senate, winning a second term in 1990. Simon committed time and energy to a myriad of issues of interest to him, especially in the field of education, with one of his biggest successes coming with the passage of the National Literacy Act, which he sponsored. He continued to foster his ties to journalism throughout his lengthy political career, authoring numerous books, articles, and nationally syndicated columns, all of which he used to relentlessly promote open government and social programs. Robert E. Hartley s vivid account of the public life of Paul Simon reveals a man whose personal honor and dedication were unshakeable throughout nearly half a century in the political arena. Paul Simon: The Political Journey of an Illinois Original provides a candid perspective on Simon s accomplishments and victories, as well as his mistakes and losses, revealing new insights into the life of this dynamic and beloved public figure. Seller Inventory # FLT9780809329458

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Book Description Southern Illinois University Press, United States, 2009. Hardback. Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Charts the political course of an Illinois legend. With Paul Simon: The Political Journey of an Illinois Original , author Robert E. Hartley presents the first thorough, objective volume on the journalistic and political career of one of Illinois most respected native sons. Hartley s detailed account offers a fully rounded portrait of a man whose ideals and tenacity not only spurred reform on both state and national levels during his celebrated forty-year career but also established the lasting legacy of a political legend. Simon first became a public figure at the age of nineteen, when he assumed the post of editor and publisher of a weekly newspaper in Troy, Illinois. From there, he used his paper to launch a fierce crusade against the crime and corruption plaguing Madison County. This battle sparked his meteoric rise into politics, helping to land him a seat in the state legislature in 1954. While serving, he campaigned tirelessly according to his principles, earning him the mass voter approval that would usher him into the seat of lieutenant governor in 1968 - the first person elected to that position who did not share party affiliation with the governor. As lieutenant governor, Simon initiated many changes to the position, remaking it to better serve the citizens of the state of Illinois. The cornerstone of his reform plans was an ombudsman program designed to allow the people of the state to voice problems they had with government and state agencies. The program, very popular with the public and the press, solved many problems and helped to make Simon a household name throughout Illinois. Although he faced many challenges along the way, including racial upheaval in Cairo and the student and police riots on the Carbondale campus of Southern Illinois University, Simon s outspoken honesty and strong support of his constituents earned him the utmost esteem and popularity. While his 1972 bid for governor of Illinois ultimately failed, this did not deter Simon from his dedication to social progress. In 1974 he began his remarkable twenty-two-year career in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate, where he earned the admiration of the country for his forthright efforts to uphold voter concerns and political integrity. Despite the praise and support Simon had earned during his time in Washington, he was unable to win the Democratic presidential nomination in 1988 and returned to the Senate, winning a second term in 1990. Simon committed time and energy to a myriad of issues of interest to him, especially in the field of education, with one of his biggest successes coming with the passage of the National Literacy Act, which he sponsored. He continued to foster his ties to journalism throughout his lengthy political career, authoring numerous books, articles, and nationally syndicated columns, all of which he used to relentlessly promote open government and social programs. Robert E. Hartley s vivid account of the public life of Paul Simon reveals a man whose personal honor and dedication were unshakeable throughout nearly half a century in the political arena. Paul Simon: The Political Journey of an Illinois Original provides a candid perspective on Simon s accomplishments and victories, as well as his mistakes and losses, revealing new insights into the life of this dynamic and beloved public figure. Seller Inventory # FLT9780809329458

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