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Rayburn: a biography.

Rayburn: A Biography.

D.B.Hardeman, Donald C. Bacon. Texas Monthly Press, $21.95. Sam Rayburn served as speaker of the House longer than anyone else-- from 1940-1961, with time out as minority leader during the Eisenhower administration. Today he is remembered chiefly as a reticent survivor who admonished younger legislators, "in this House, the people who get along the best, go along the most.'

But there was more passion andsubstance to Rayburn than the saying suggests. While still a freshman, Rayburn sponsored legislation giving the Interstate Commerce Commission the authority to approve all new transportation securities--a measure that brought Rayburn into conflict not only with the then-powerful railroads but also with President Woodrow Wilson. Rayburn's actions so angered Wilson that he lent support to Rayburn's opponent in the next election.

The tension between Rayburn'spopulist ideals and the need to "get along' ought to provide material for a first-rate biography. And with Rayburn's protege, get-along, goalong, Jim Wright, recently ascended to the speakership, this is a useful time for such a biography to be published. Unfortunately, Hardeman, a former Rayburn staff member, and Bacon, an editor at U.S. News and World Report, have produced a worshipful book that, paradoxically, makes Rayburn seem a dull fellow. Until a really first-rate biography appears, the curious will do better to read Robert Caro's brilliant chapter on Rayburn in The Path to Power.
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Author:Noah, Timothy
Publication:Washington Monthly
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jun 1, 1987
Words:230
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