True Believer: Hubert Humphrey’s Quest for a More Just America

Basic. Feb. 2024. 528p. ISBN 9781541619579. $35. POL SCI
Award-winning journalist Traub (foreign policy and intellectual history, NYU Abu Dhabi; Judah Benjamin) explores the life of politician Hubert Humphrey. He started his career by running for mayor of Minneapolis; eventually became a two-term U.S. senator representing Minnesota; and served as the country’s 38th vice president, during the Lyndon B. Johnson administration. Traub focuses on their fraught relationship and how Johnson tended to overshadow and belittle Humphrey. Throughout his career, Humphrey, known for his promotion of liberal values and tendencies towards compromise, campaigned for civil rights, nuclear disarmament, and labor rights. He ran for president several times, but the changing opinions of the electorate and ideological shifts contributed to his losses. His promotion into Democratic Party leadership led to his taking positions that were more toward the center, and many of his ideologically minded supporters grew disenchanted with him. Traub argues that Humphrey was tied to Johnson’s disastrous handling of the Vietnam War, and he struggled to shake that legacy as well.
VERDICT A flattering look at a liberal political figure. Fans of American political history will appreciate this one.
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