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HARD RIGHT: The Rise of Jesse Helms by Ernest B Furgurson

HARD RIGHT: The Rise of Jesse Helms


Pub Date: Oct. 21st, 1986
Publisher: Norton

An unauthorized political study of conservative North Carolina Senator Jesse Helms, which is part biography, part journalistic sniping. Newspaperman Furgurson (the Baltimore Sun) here he takes the reader back to Helms' earliest day. As he puts it: ""In 1921, North Carolina's new governor took office with a summons to 'the forces of progressive democracy' to 'war for righteousness with the reactionary and unprogressive forces of our state.' As if in response, Jesse Alexander Helms, Jr., was born that fall."" The son of a small-town policeman, Jesse worked hard to get to Wake Forest, but was quickly lured into life at two Raleigh newspapers. In only a dozen short years, this shy, gangling young man had parlayed his newspaper work and a popular opinionating radio program into a political base that landed him in Washington. Once in the Senate, he came under the wing of Alabama's conservative Senator, James Allen, observing how the elder Senator was able to take advantage of parliamentary rules and obstruct the Senate's more progressive forces. Furgurson surveys Helms' connections to the tobacco industry back home (so strong that it kept him from accepting the cherished chairmanship of the Foreign Relations Committee), and Helms' powerful and wealthy mail-order funding operation. Furgurson writes in the tradition of guttersniping used by Victor Laski in JFK: The Man and the Myth. That Helms has a lot to snipe at doesn't salve the feeling that one is reading an excessively biased analysis. Liberals will rave, conservatives groan.