My First Days in the White House (Stackpole History Classics)

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9780811713221: My First Days in the White House (Stackpole History Classics)
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  • Novel by the flamboyant Kingfish, one of Franklin Roosevelt's political rivals during the Great Depression
  • Rollicking, lavishly illustrated fantasy outlining how Long would enact his "Share the Wealth" program if elected in 1936
  • Long's plans included making healthcare more widely available, taking on the Federal Reserve...and appointing the defeated FDR secretary of the navy

    During the 1930's, while Hitler and other dictators brought their boot heels down on Europe and Asia, many Americans looked the other way. Some, however, saw the dangers and published books sounding the alarm. Stackpole is proud to reprint a selection of these classic calls-to-arms, as well as other titles reflecting the spirit of the times, all of which shed light on a dark decade and have resonance in our own time.

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    From the Publisher:

    In 1935, United States Senator Huey Long decided to run for President. At the time, the "Kingfish" of Louisiana was a national political figure known for his signature program to combat the Great Depression through a redistribution of the nation’s wealth. A confidential poll commissioned by the Democratic Party in 1935 indicated that as a third party candidate Long might receive anywhere from three to six million votes in the 1936 Presidential election. Supporters of President Franklin D. Roosevelt feared that in a tight election Long might draw enough votes from the President to tip the election to the Republicans.

    In the mist of this pre election speculation, Long decided to write a novel which would provide a vision of how he would govern as President. In Washington in the spring of 1935, he dictated the first draft of My First Days in the White House to Mabel Roshton, a secretary brought from Louisiana to work on the book. Ms. Roshton’s transcribed notes were then turned over for revision and editing to Earle Christenberry, the Senator’s press secretary, and to Ray Daniell a political reporter for The New York Times.

    Christenberry and Daniell’s involvement has led some critics to suggest that they wrote the book on Long’s behalf. T. Harry Williams, in his Pulitzer Prize winning biography Huey Long, dismissed that claim, noting that years after the Senator’s death, Ms. Roshton still retained the shorthand notebooks used to record Long’s dictation of the novel. (Huey Long, T. Harry Williams, 1969, NY, Knopf.)

    After the Congressional recess in August of 1935, Long made a concerted effort to get My First Days in The White House into print. The revised manuscript was submitted for publication to the Telegraph Press, a small publishing firm with offices in Harrisburg Pennsylvania and New York. Shortly thereafter Long traveled to New York where, after a night on the town, he negotiated a book deal with the publisher in a predawn meeting at the New Yorker Hotel. Since he was scheduled to deliver a speech in Oklahoma City on Labor Day, Long left New York shortly after the meeting and stopped at the Telegraph Press offices in Harrisburg to sign the publisher’s agreement and to pick up the first proofs of the book. An employee of the Telegraph Press joined the Senator on the trip to Oklahoma so that the edited proofs could be quickly returned to Harrisburg.

    As some point the manuscript for My First Days in The White House was reduced to less than half its original length. The reason for this drastic revision is not known. Tulane University’s Burton L. Hotaling, writing in Journalism Quarterly in the 1940's, speculated that Long may have wanted to save some of the material for speeches in the Senate or may have found the editing process tedious and chose to drop out whole portions of the text. Possibly the Telegraph Press convinced the author that a shorter book would have greater sales.

    Huey Long would not live to see the publication of My First Days in the White House. After the Labor Day speech in Oklahoma City he left for Louisiana to attend a special session of the State Legislature. On the night of September 8th he was shot by a lone gunman in a corridor of the State Capitol. Mortally wounded, he died two days later at Our Lady of the Lake Hospital in Baton Rouge. A notation in the records of the United States Copyright Office indicates that the first publication of My First Days in The White House occurred on September 12, 1935, two days after Long’s death. It is likely the publication date was moved forward in order to get the book before the public in a timely manner. The current scarcity of the Telegraph Press edition indicates the book had a limited first printing and there appears to have been no second printing. This edition of My First Days in the White House by O’Bryan House Publishers, LLC, is the first American paperback edition of the novel.

    RD, Editor
    O’Bryan House Publishers, LLC

    About the Author:

    Huey Long (1893-1935) served as governor of Louisiana and U.S. Senator. He was assassinated in 1935.

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