Can he go from jail to Congress? The Authors Collection.
May 1, 2014
Don’t that beat all. The former governor of Louisiana, my former governor, Edwin Edwards is out of prison – convicted of bribery and extortion – and he’s and running for Congress. Take a look at his good-looking young blonde wife, and you know immediately that his age – 86 – doesn’t bother him or slow him down. As the press swarmed around him for his official announcement, Edwards said, “I haven’t had this much attention since the trial.” Welcome to Louisiana where felonies aren’t particularly detrimental to political candidates.
Here is a review I wrote about the book that profiled one of Louisiana’s most controversial governors and politicians, and over time there have been plenty of them.
“There is no such thing as a ‘twelve year long torrid love affair.’ Twelve days or twelve weeks, maybe, but not twelve years!’” That was the advice then governor Edwin Edwards gave to candidate Bill Clinton on how to respond to the press when the Gennifer Flowers story broke. So typical of the quick replies and humorous quips for which he was well known. In four terms as governor and over fifty years in the spotlight, Edwin W. Edwards said a lot of things. His remarks cover the spectrum from philosophical to hilarious. He got credit for saying some things he probably didn’t say and was often misquoted.
“You can’t get elected to a state-wide office in Louisiana unless you’re under indictment.” was another comment often attributed to the state’s first Cajun governor. Regarding legal entanglements, he is quoted with, “People say I’ve had brushes with the law. That’s not true. I’ve had brushes with overzealous prosecutors.” There’s a list of quotes available online here.
This reviewer moved to North Carolina after Hurricane Katrina and still remembers visiting with friends and sharing our favorite stories about Huey P. Long and Edwin Edwards. Leo Honeycutt gathered over 1,800 pages (with 3,000 footnotes) of stories about the former governor after two years of research. Fortunately for readers, he has distilled them down to a few over six hundred along with two sixteen slick pages of photos spanning the governor’s career. Images document Edwards’ youth, military experience, and interactions with every president from JFK through Carter. There are even photos of Edwards with Willie Nelson and Elvis!
Honeycutt, a veteran journalist with over thirty years of covering Louisiana politics, has written a fast-paced narrative covering topics from poverty, racism, crime (New Orleans mafia), and politics (from dog catcher to president). All these topics become the story of an Avoyelles Parish LSU graduate-come-federal prisoner. Edwin Edwards – Governor of Louisiana is billed as “an authorized biography” with quotes and anecdotes from the former governor throughout. No doubt there will be concerns that Honeycutt is an apologist for Edwards, but the fact is, no matter which stories you hear, they’re all fascinating and well presented here.
How does an author pare a book down from 1,800 pages to 600 without leaving out the favorite stories many Louisiana readers will be expecting? Choices have to be made and priorities assigned. Certainly there is enough material for another volume. The book’s epilogue is a ten page letter from the former governor himself in which he apologizes, takes a few shots at detractors and enemies, and promises to write a book about the trial that sent him to prison.
Perhaps more tragic than an eighty year old man being released from jail to run for political office is the fact that our society needs constant reminders of lessons we just can’t seem to learn from experience.
Please click the book cover image to read more about FCEtier and his novels.