J. V. Conran and Rural Political Power

J. V. Conran and Rural Political Power : Boss Mythology in the Missouri Bootheel

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James Vincent Conran (1899-1970) was the most significant political organizer in the history of rural America. Conran served as a rural Missouri prosecutor for 32 years, but he was also the much sought political friend of statewide and national candidates such as President Harry S. Truman, U.S. Senator Thomas F. Eagleton, and Governor Warren Hearnes. Contemporary media depictions tended to portray Conran as a traditional, corrupt political boss, like Conran's notorious contemporaries, Tom Pendergast of Kansas City or Ed Crump of Memphis. In J.V. Conran and Rural Political Power Will Sarvis paints a more accurate image of Conran by describing both the extent and limitations of his power and influence.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 194 pages
  • 154.94 x 231.14 x 20.32mm | 453.59g
  • Lanham, MD, United States
  • English
  • maps
  • 0739169858
  • 9780739169858

Table of contents

Preface Introduction Chapter One: Embedded Traditions of Election Fraud and Bloc Voting Chapter Two: Launching a Political Career amidst the Great Depression Chapter Three: Elusive Apex Chapter Four: Other Stars Rising Chapter Five: Changing Times Chapter Six: Power and its Limitations Legacy and Epilogue Appendix: Merits and Demerits of Oral History Source Materials Index
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Review quote

Will Sarvis's J. V. Conran and Rural Political Power is a welcome scholarly introduction to one of the bootheel's chief political figures, known to most only in folklore... This is an important book that illuminates the texture and nuance of 'swampeast Missouri.' On the post-Pendergast landscape of Missouri politics, Conran's was but one of many provincial fiefdoms where powerful men trafficked in political influence. Even if J. V. was not the boss, he was still a fascinating regional kingpin whose story had never been told until now. Missouri Historical Review J.V. Conran and Rural Political Power: Boss Mythology in the Missouri Bootheel is...a study of Conran's professional career as a politician (prosecuting attorney of New Madrid County) and power broker within Missouri's Democratic Party... This book is a case study of a common misunderstanding of how power is used. Sarvis integrates political theory throughout to place politicians like Conran in historical perspective. The author succeeds in providing context and insight into political methods that dominated Conran's era. Journal of Southern History Will Sarvis has accumulated a wealth of information about politics in Missouri's Bootheel. He paints a vivid picture of power and paternalism in this corner of the rural South. -- Pamela Riney-Kehrberg, Iowa State University Will Sarvis has written a detailed narrative that demonstrates the great possibilities of using oral history in documenting political change. This study of the life and political activities of J. V. Conran shows the ease of misunderstanding political machines, especially in rural areas. J.V. Conran and Rural Political Power also shows the contradictions that exist in politicians who are scrupulously honest in their handling of public affairs, but who condone electoral fraud as a means to an end. The book also explores the idea that rural southeastern Missouri was a crossroads between the South and the Midwest, making it an ideal place to study the practice of local and state politics. Political historians and public historians alike will find much to enjoy in this book. -- Phillip Stone, Wofford College
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About Will Sarvis

Will Sarvis is instructor of history at Lane Community College in Eugene, Oregon.
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