Professor-Politician: The Biography of Alabama Congressman Glen Browder

By Key, Barclay | The Journal of Southern History, August 2014 | Go to article overview

Professor-Politician: The Biography of Alabama Congressman Glen Browder


Key, Barclay, The Journal of Southern History


Professor-Politician: The Biography of Alabama Congressman Glen Browder. By Geni Certain. With an autobiographical essay by Glen Browder. (Montgomery, Ala.: NewSouth Books, 2012. Pp. [xxx], 257. Paper, $25.95, ISBN 978-1-58838-254-2.)

Retired journalist Geni Certain's compelling political biography of Alabama congressman John Glen Browder fits nicely into historians' ongoing analyses of southern politics after the 1960s. Browder's childhood in Sumter, South Carolina, was marked by the untimely death of his father and perpetual economic insecurity. Despite such obstacles, Browder excelled in school, particularly as a writer, and completed a degree in history from Presbyterian College in 1965. He volunteered for military service that year but was rejected because of a medical condition, a fateful outcome that enabled him to pursue doctoral studies in political science at Emory University. Browder then launched his academic career at Jacksonville State University in Alabama, where he became a beloved professor and established a base for a concurrent political career.

Convinced that most state and national politicians lacked civic vision and leadership, Browder charted a course that formally began in 1980 when he served as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention. After one term in the Alabama House of Representatives, Browder won a statewide election for secretary of state in 1986 and a special election for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in 1989. Browder retained this seat through 1996, the year of his lone electoral defeat, when he lost a runoff in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate.

Students of recent Alabama politics will enjoy following the trajectory of Browder's career, the extensive remarks on local and state issues, and the stories of lively politicians who are relatively unknown outside the state. …

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