Marc Johnson on Burton K. Wheeler

Oregon journalist and political operative Marc Johnson will read from his new book, Political Hell-Raiser: The Life and Times of Senator Burton K. Wheeler of Montana, a biography of Montana’s independent and controversial four-term Democratic senator, on Thursday, July 11.

Wheeler, a New Deal Democrat and lifelong opponent of concentrated power, came of political age amid antiwar and labor unrest in Butte, Montana, during World War I. As a crusading federal attorney, he battled Montana’s powerful economic interests, championed farmers and miners, and won election to the U.S. Senate in 1922. There he made his name as one of the “Montana scandalmongers,” uncovering corruption in the Harding and Coolidge administrations.

Johnson has worked as a broadcast journalist, a top aide to Cecil D. Andrus, Idaho’s longest serving governor, and a public affairs and crisis communications consultant. He spent nearly 25 years in various capacities with the Idaho-based Gallatin Public Affairs. A student of political history, Johnson writes and speaks regularly on political history with particular focus on the New Deal era, U.S. Senate history, and the American presidency.

Johnson’s writing on politics and history has appeared in numerous regional and national publications, including The New York Times, the California Journal of Politics and Policy, and Montana – The Magazine of Western History.

Pat Williams, Montana’s longtime congressman, says “This long-awaited and first extensive biography of one of America’s most effective and productive U.S. senators, the honorable maverick Burton K. Wheeler, arrives right on time. We Americans need a good and true story like this—about a determined lawyer who defended the rights of day laborers in a hard-rock mining camp out west and went on to represent his constituents as their U.S. senator to his final breath. Marc Johnson has provided that biography.”

The free event begins at 7 p.m. upstairs at Elk River Books, 120 N. Main St. in Livingston, and will be followed by a book signing and reception. For more information, call 333-2330.

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