Coup by Keel Hunt
Once upon a time in a land far, far away, an evil governor was selling pardons for cash. Many bad men would be released from gaol–free to roam the kingdom of Tennessee threatening the gentle populace. But a band of noble men, some close advisors to the mad ruler, staged a coup and a new leader in a plaid shirt triumphantly strode into the capital. And the good people of Tennessee lived happily ever after.
With all the recent squabbling in Washington, Keel Hunt’s book, Coup: The Day the Democrats Ousted Their Governor, Put Republican Lamar Alexander in Office Early, and Stopped a Pardon Scandal sounds like a fairy tale, but it is a true story.
That the coup happened at all is rather astounding as there were significant legal and constitutional barriers to overcome. But most challenging was that the plan required leaders from both parties to work together creatively, amicably, and very quickly for the good of the state– a situation which seems almost unimaginable in our current polarized political environment.
Hunt’s book also serves as a reminder of how other things have changed. With a few exceptions, in 1979 there were virtually no women leaders in our political, legal, or business communities. The where are they now conclusion to the book lists forty-nine men and four women (three reporters and a secretary.) The coup like so many decisions at that time was plotted and executed entirely by white men with long sideburns.
It may be too “inside the parkway” (James Robertson that is!) for some readers, but Keel’s portraits of Nashville’s leaders and politicians in the mid 20th C is fascinating reading.
A recommended read for local history buffs.