Posted: April 26, 2013 in I CALLED HIM GRAND DAD
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The title, I Called Him Grandad by Thomas T. Fields, Jr., suggests an easy going book with reflections of a paternal grandfather. This is not the case. It is an in depth biography of Harvey G. Fields whom I had not heard of. His list of appointments and accomplishments boggle the mind: successful lawyer; State Senator; Federal District Attorney (check out his conviction rate in the book); Chairman of the Democratic Central Committee; orator, author; but most of all, a staunch fighter for the justice system. As I started reading the book, I was drawn into Thomas’s writing style that was to the point, detailed and entertaining. One minor point is there are a few times that the stories do overlap, so there is some repetition. The biography spans Field’s life from 1883 to 1961 – the years that shaped America into what it is now. The book also gives insight and detail into his close friends, acquaintances and co-workers, who were some of the most influential and powerful men in America at that time such as: Huey Long, the former Governor of Louisiana; President Roosevelt; Clarence Darrow, who defended Darwinism in the famous Scopes Monkey Trial in the 20’s. The list goes on and on. An added bonus were the letters of correspondence included in the book from all of the players. How one man could keep up with all his involvements is a testament to Fields of his love of life and work.

What I found particularly interesting is the connections of the justice and political infrastructure that Fields was a part of. He was drawn into some of the major historic events at that time. Corruption was rampant before and during Fields time in office, and it is almost as if he wanted to singlehandedly tackle the “black hats” in Louisiana that had been ruling for years and years. He was a crucial part of the infamous Louisiana Scandals in the ‘30’s that brought down many politicians. This did not actually help Fields in his political career; other agendas in Washington ruled that day. Fields was part of some of the most cut-throat wrangling that America has ever seen.

Thomas does not dwell too much into the home life and outside activities of Fields, although I think that may have shown another side to the man. He does elude that in retirement he enjoyed talking to random strangers about all types of events. This suggests that Fields was a likable individual and a bit of a storyteller, which eventually was passed down to his Grandson, the author. I have heard stories of Louisiana and, like most, have seen films about that southern state. To read about the pulse of power that ran that part of the world for those few decades and to see it though the eyes of a major player was a treat for this history buff.

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