New York State Writers Institute

Styles Bridges: Yankee Senator
James Kiepper
Historian & Biographer
James Kiepper
November 7, 2006 (Tuesday)
12:15 pm Seminar, Science Library 340

James Kiepper, historian, biographer, and leading authority on the history of the New Hampshire Presidential Primary, will offer an Election Day discussion of U. S. politics and historical research.

Kiepper is the author of Styles Bridges: Yankee Senator (2001), a biography of the former governor of New Hampshire (1935-37) and U.S. Senator (1937-61). A farm boy from Maine, with only two years of education at an agricultural college, Bridges rose from obscurity to become one of the most powerful men in American government.

Though strongly associated with the conservative wing of the Republican Party, and a staunch opponent of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal, Bridges was a master of the art of compromise, and famous for his ability to deliver votes from Democrats as well as Republicans. As a long-serving member of the Senate's Armed Services and Appropriations committee, President Roosevelt entrusted Bridges with the task of camouflaging the funding for the development of the atomic bomb during World War II.

"…a marvelous portrait of a conservative who devoted his life to his community…. Bridges, a master of the political art, is well served by this fine biography." - Michael Potemra, National Review

"While Kiepper spends a good deal of ink on Bridges's positives--his Horatio Alger rise, his political savvy, his popularity, and the care he took of his New Hampshire constituents, his power and his constant reelections--he also delves into his dark side." - Lois Shea, Boston Globe

The latter included Bridges' compulsive practice of collecting "dirt" on friends as well as enemies in order to maintain his political advantage. The book features a forward by CNN commentator Robert Novak.

Kiepper was a professor in the School of Education at the University at Albany for 35 years. He also served as special assistant to Michigan Governor George Romney, and to New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller in his national Republican campaign for the presidency in 1968. Prior to writing the biography of Styles Bridges, Kiepper edited the papers of several members of the U.S. House of Representatives, and of Bridges himself.