A Pryor Commitment

The Autobiography of David Pryor
with Don Harrell
September 2008

Available In:

Paper: $19.95 (978-1-935106-10-4)
Cloth: $29.95 (978-0-9800897-3-8)


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“David Pryor is a great Arkansan and a great American.”
—Sen. Hillary Clinton

“David Pryor never stops giving back to the people of Arkansas. His remarkable book is another service to our people because it sheds light on important chapters of our state’s history.”
—Gov. Mike Beebe

David Pryor’s career of public service is unparalleled in Arkansas history: he has been elected state representative, congressman, governor, and, alongside Dale Bumpers, U.S. senator (1979–1997), a seat his son Mark Pryor now holds. Through it all, Pryor’s curiosity, compassion, and concern for ordinary Americans draw the reader from one colorful vignette to another. His father sold Chevrolets, volunteered at church, and held local office just to be sure the right things were done in their community. Pryor’s richly detailed childhood memories are worth the price of the book. Yet there is so much more.

In the best tradition of American populists, Pryor followed his insight into the lives of ordinary Arkansans and Americans. He followed the voices of children in underfunded schools, of local officials who lacked funding to fulfill their responsibilities, of the elderly who needed adequate care in nursing homes. Pryor threw himself into fray after fray as advocate—often as champion—for the last, the least, and the neglected of our society.

David Pryor’s mother, one of the the first women to seek public office in Arkansas after women achieved the right to vote, once told a family friend that her son should not enter public life because he would be too easily “disillusioned.” Perhaps she underestimated her son—and the lessons she taught him. After nearly half a century serving Arkansas and the nation, Pryor continues to serve, now on the board of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Don Harrell, a childhood friend of Pryor’s, was the senator’s chief of staff during his years in the U.S. Senate and has recently retired as chief of external relations for TIAA-CREF in New York City, where he now resides.

Distributed for the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies