Fighting Bob La Follette: The Righteous Reformer
By Nancy C. Unger
416 pages, 37 b/w photos and illus., 6.125 x 9.25"
"The story of La Follette and the progressives remains a lively and highly relevant chapter in American history. It is the antidote to resignation and complacency that emerges when problems are perceived as unprecedented in their severity, immune to remedy, and thus accepted as inevitable." -from the Preface
Now in paperback with a new preface, this comprehensive biography weaves the triumph and the tragedy of the public and private lives of the most famous of Wisconsin leaders, Robert "Fighting Bob" La Follette. In her introduction, Nancy C. Unger writes that La Follette "dedicated his life to returning power to the people." As a U.S. representative, governor of Wisconsin, and U.S. Senator, La Follette's political legacies have been long lasting; among them are the election of senators by constituents, creation of the Department of Labor and the Federal Trade Commission, women's suffrage, and workers' compensation.
Despite his successes, La Follette's personal life was marred by misfortune including the death of his father when La Follette was only eight months old and illnesses so severe that complete rest, often for months at a time, was the prescribed cure. Through the personal letters, diaries, and documents of the La Follette family, Unger uses the private life of La Follette as a means for understanding the public figure.
Thoroughly researched and documented, "Fighting Bob La Follette: The Righteous Reformer" is a testament to the progressive tradition in Wisconsin and its premier leader. The political climate, as well as some of its challenges, that Fighting Bob found himself facing at the turn of the nineteenth century will remind readers that, as cliche as it may be, history does repeat itself. And while it would be easy for Nancy C. Unger to sanctify a figure like Bob La Follette in this biography, she does not; she humanizes him.