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Fighting the Odds: The Life of Senator Frank Church

By Leroy Ashby & Rod Gramer

Fifteen years in the making, Fighting the Odds is a milestone in western political biography. Authors LeRoy Ashby and Rod Gramer take readers on a dramatic tour of post-World War II America, as experienced in Frank Church’s twenty-four years in the Senate. From 1957 to 1981, Church stood at the center of searing national debates, emerging as one of the twentieth century’s most respected and influential senators. Ashby and Gramer illuminate the battle for the 1957 Civil Rights Act, the emergence of the Senate’s anti-Vietnam coalition, conflicts over environmental legislation in the 1960s and 1970s, the fight over the Panama Canal treaties, and Church’s highly publicized investigations of the CIA, FBI, and multinational corporations. Interspersed is the gripping tale of the 1976 presidential campaign when Church, the “late, late candidate,” upset frontrunner Jimmy Carter in several key primaries. Throughout his life, Frank Church fought formidable odds. Almost dying of cancer at age twenty-four, he viewed the rest of his life as borrowed time. In 1956 he won a Senate seat, though he had never before held elective office. At thirty-two he became one of the youngest persons ever to take a seat in the U. S. Senate. He served four terms in the Senate – the only Idaho Democrat to ever serve more than one. Defeated in the Republican landslide election of 1980, Frank Church died of cancer in 1984. Fighting the Odds is “a meticulously researched, comprehensive, eminently fair biography,” according to award-winning historian William L. O’Neill. It is destined to become a classic of American political writing.

Lifelong Affair: My Passion for People and Politics

By Bethine Church

This captivating memoir by the wife of the late Idaho senator Frank Church captures the essence of what life was like when, in 1957, as a young couple, the Churches established themselves among the Washington elite and when, later, they fought battles, large and small, both in and out of the political arena. Relating her story simply and sincerely, Church acknowledges that she “was hardly the classic senator’s wife. I have often described my life in Washington as like Cinderella’s: I was either cleaning the fireplace or going to the ball.” Although Church’s role as a senator’s wife demanded active participation in Washington’s social circles, she did more than play hostess; with her political acuity (she was fascinated with politics from her school days), she often advised her husband in matters of state, earning the affectionate nickname “the third Senator from Idaho.”