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UL Lafayette historian captures political life of Russell Long

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A new book by a University of Louisiana at Lafayette history professor traces the political history of one of the nation's most powerful lawmakers from Louisiana's most influential political family.

Dr. Michael Martin, who is also director of the Center for Louisiana Studies at UL Lafayette, is the author of "Russell Long: A Life in Politics." It examines Long's public life and places it within the context of 20th-century Louisiana, southern, and national politics. The book was published by the University Press of Mississippi.

In an online review at, former U.S. Sen. J. Bennett Johnston writes, "This excellent book by Michael S. Martin thoroughly captures the amazing legislative record of my former colleague, Russell B. Long.

"The book highlights the open-mindedness and flexibility of Senator Long in seeking the best solution to legislative challenges as opposed to being rigidly attached to a preconceived ideological direction. In today's gridlocked Congress, this book constitutes an excellent 'how to' to break the legislative impasse." Johnston, a Democratic senator from Louisiana, served from 1972 to 1997.

Russell Long, who died in 2003, was the son of Louisiana Gov. Huey Long and the nephew of Gov. Earl K. Long, two flamboyant political figures.
His father's assassination in 1935 set the wheels in motion for his eventual political career. In 1948, Russell Long followed his father and his mother to a seat in the United States Senate. In due course, he rose to the politically eminent positions of majority whip and chair of the Senate Finance Committee.

An additional review, by Glen Jeansonne, professor of history at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, describes Russell Long: A Life in Politics as "a book about Louisiana, the South, and the nation, during a crucial era, eloquently written, researched with painstaking diligence by one of Louisiana's leading historians."

Martin is the Cheryl Courrégé Burguières/Board of Regents Professor of History  at UL Lafayette. He is also managing editor for the academic journal, Louisiana History.