Writing a biography of " Richard Brevard Russell, Democrat, of Winder, Ga.," as he liked to be known, has been a challenging but rewarding adventure. Russell's contemporaries found him a difficult man to understand, and the passage of time since his death in 1971 has not done much to clarify his enigmatic character. Indeed, Russell was in many ways a complex and contradictory figure. A quiet, reserved, and modest man, he relished the frequent praise heaped upon him; although he never married, he believed deeply in family values; he had many admirers in Georgia and throughout the nation but very few close personal friends; and he held no personal ill will toward blacks, but he was largely responsible for delaying effective civil rights legislation for nearly twenty years. These and other seeming inconsistencies and contradictions may make it difficult to understand Russell the man, but they in no way cloud his long career of distinguished public service. It is my hope that this biography will help explain Russell's thought, his strength of character, and his contributions to his state and nation. Because of his penchant for secrecy on some matters, not all of Russell's actions can be adequately explained. This was especially true in regard to aspects of national defense and his oversight of the Central Intelligence Agency.
Born on November 2, 1897, and reared in an elite southern family, Russell grew up in a highly stratified and class-conscious society. No other factor made such a deep impression on him as his upbringing and residence in the South and his understanding of the region's history. The Russell family planned that Richard, Jr., the oldest son, would pursue a political career, and that he did. He served in public life from 1921 to 1971, a period that witnessed some of the most dramatic and far-reaching changes of any half century in American history. After ten years in the Georgia General Assembly, the last four as Speaker of the House, he was elected governor in 1930. He served in that office from 1931 to