Book Review: Edwin Edwards Governor of Louisiana by Leo Honeycutt
“There is no such thing as a 'twelve year long torrid love affair.' Twelve days or twelve weeks, maybe, but not twelve years!'” That was the advice then governor Edwin Edwards gave to candidate Bill Clinton on how to respond to the press when the Gennifer Flowers story broke. So typical of the quick replies and humorous quips for which he was well known. In four terms as governor and over fifty years in the spotlight, Edwin W. Edwards said a lot of things. His remarks cover the spectrum from philosophical to hilarious. He got credit for saying some things he probably didn't say and was often misquoted.
“You can't get elected to a state-wide office in Louisiana unless you're under indictment.” was another comment often attributed to the state's first Cajun governor. Regarding legal entanglements, he is quoted with, “People say I’ve had brushes with the law. That’s not true. I’ve had brushes with overzealous prosecutors.” There's a list of quotes available online here.
This reviewer moved to North Carolina after Hurricane Katrina and still remembers visiting with friends and sharing our favorite stories about Huey P. Long and Edwin Edwards. Leo Honeycutt gathered over 1,800 pages (with 3,000 footnotes) of stories about the former governor after two years of research. Fortunately for readers, he has distilled them down to a few over six hundred along with two sixteen slick pages of photos spanning the governor's career. Images document Edwards' youth, military experience, and interactions with every president from JFK through Carter. There are even photos of Edwards with Willie Nelson and Elvis!
Honeycutt, a veteran journalist with over thirty years of covering Louisiana politics, has written a fast-paced narrative covering topics from poverty, racism, crime (New Orleans mafia), and politics (from dog catcher to president). All these topics become the story of an Avoyelles Parish LSU graduate-come-federal prisoner. Edwin Edwards – Governor of Louisiana is billed as “an authorized biography” with quotes and anecdotes from the former governor throughout. No doubt there will be concerns that Honeycutt is an apologist for Edwards, but the fact is, no matter which stories you hear, they're all fascinating and well presented here.Continued on the next page