LITTLE GIANT: The Life and Times of Speaker Carl Albert by Carl with Danney Goble Albert

LITTLE GIANT: The Life and Times of Speaker Carl Albert

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The memoirs of former Speaker of the House Albert, from his youth in Bug Tussle, Oklahoma, to his role in Congress' weighing of an impeachment of Richard M. Nixon. An odd amalgam of homespun idiom and the language of power, Albert's narrative is sometimes too casual for what are often weighty matters. Albert--here aided by Goble (History/Univ. of Tulsa)--speeds past some of the major issues facing the country during his 30 years (1947-77) in the House of Representatives, such as the civil-rights movement, the Vietnam War, the Watergate hearings, the Cuban missile crisis, and the early years of the Cold War. A good portion (and the most entertaining segments) of the book deals with his education, from a poor subscription school to his days as a Rhodes Scholar ""up at Oxford."" As a high-school student, Albert's essay on the Constitution earned him a trip to Washington, D.C., where he met Pres. Coolidge and Oklahoma Sen. Elmer Thomas, a larger-than-life politician who befriended the ambitious young man. Albert's youthful belief that the Constitution must be upheld above all political parties, people, movements, and crises remained with him throughout his career. One article of that document brought Speaker Albert, upon Spiro Agnew's resignation of the vice-presidency, just a heartbeat away from the Oval Office. Here, Albert rather offhandedly relates incidents where he used his power to get his way. He had no qualms, for instance, about changing the rules of the Democratic caucus in order to silence Bella Abzug, who repeatedly took the floor to denounce the Vietnam War. And Albert doesn't conceal that he thrived politically by utilizing the notion that one who goes along, gets along. Reminiscences and anecdotes of daily life in Congress that--however self-serving or breezily presented--make fascinating reading.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1990
Publisher: Univ. of Oklahoma Press