Defining Moments
Historic Decisions by Arkansas Governors from McMath through Huckabee
Robert L. Brown
Foreword by Mack McLarty

Ten Arkansas governors at pivotal moments in history

"All will come to know, and understand, more about contemporary Arkansas politics than they did before. And that is no small thing."
—Janine Parry, Arkansas Historical Quarterly, Summer 2011

“Bob Brown’s thorough research allows him to strike the right tone in giving readers an inside view of life in the governor’s office. Defining Moments combines informed historical content with a nuanced writing style that draws the reader into the work.”
—Governor Mike Beebe

“With these profiles and vignettes, Justice Brown has assembled a lesson-book on leadership, and the difficulties of decision-making in the moments it matters most.”
—Mack McLarty, from the Foreword

Defining Moments explores how all Arkansas governors since Sid McMath (a group that has produced a president, two U.S. senators, and two presidential contenders) acted in times of crisis. These ten exceptional leaders stand out in Arkansas history and politics for having had their personal and political mettle tested by issues concerning education, the environment, social justice, the conduct of politics, race, and more of the nation’s defining debates.

The governors and situations covered include Sid McMath’s bout with the Dixiecrats; Francis Cherry’s ploy to label his opponent a Communist; Orval Faubus’s decision to block integration at Little Rock Central High; Winthrop Rockefeller’s tribute to Martin Luther King Jr. on the State Capitol steps; Dale Bumpers’s battle against political corruption; David Pryor’s veto of the U.S. Corps of Engineers’s Bell Folley Dam; Frank White’s endorsement of Creationism; Bill Clinton’s decision to test public school teachers; Jim Guy Tucker’s bold solution for the Medicaid program and his resignation; and Mike Huckabee’s quest to consolidate the state’s high school districts.

Robert Brown, who knew nine of the ten governors personally and worked as an aide for Dale Bumpers and Jim Guy Tucker, tells these stories with an unusual combination of historical research and personal familiarity. He crystallizes the difficult choices faced by these memorable leaders, showing how their decisions at crucial points shaped their tenures, molded their legacies for good or bad, and changed the course of history.

Robert L. Brown is an Arkansas Supreme Court justice and has been involved with Arkansas politics for over forty years.

Mack McLarty has a distinguished record of business leadership and public service, having served as advisor to three Presidents of both parties, including as President Bill Clinton’s White House Chief of Staff. He is currently President of the Washington DC-based international strategic advisory firm McLarty Associates, and Chairman of The McLarty Companies, a fourth-generation family transportation business based in Little Rock.


6 x 9, 105 pages, 26 photographs
$19.95 (s) paper
ISBN 978-1-55728-944-5