In The Education of Henry Adams, the early twentieth-century classic from which this book derived its name, Adams described the ascent, or descent, of a postwar social and political order into something some called modernity. Dumas follows this evolution, not in the whole of the United States as Adams did, but in insular Arkansas.
Beginning with the defeat of Governor Francis Cherry by Orval Faubus, the son of a hillbilly socialist, at the end of the Joseph McCarthy era, Dumas traces the development of a modern political cast that eventually produced Arkansas’s first president of the United States—also exploring what brought about the second-ever impeachment of an American president.
Dumas has written about politics for more than sixty years, since 1954, the year that the stolid Cherry fell to Faubus. The book is also a political memoir that describes not only Dumas’s education in the ways of politicians but also the politicians’ own education and miseducation in how to win voters and then how to get things done. Through the eyes of a journalist, this book collects the mostly untold stories, often deeply personal, that reveal the inner struggles and sometimes the tribulations of the state’s leaders—Cherry, Faubus, Winthrop Rockefeller, Dale Bumpers, David Pryor, John McClellan, J. William Fulbright, Bill Clinton, Jim Guy Tucker, and others.