Thursday, October 6, 2011

James Earl Rudder: Influencing authors, military and even Presidential candidates

Last spring, the first comprehensive biography of James Earl Rudder was published by the Texas A&M University Press. Author Thomas M. Hatfield went far beyond the usual focus on Rudder’s heroism in World War II to recreate with rich detail exciting events on battlefields and in boardrooms. Rudder: From Leader to Legend paints a full portrait that allows a wider appreciation for every phase of Rudder’s early life, from childhood, to his storied military exploits, to his remarkable postwar achievements and far-reaching public service. Utilizing access to previously unavailable family papers, memoirs, and interviews, Hatfield crafted an insightful and unsparing view of the man that applauds his accomplishments and reveals his weaknesses.

Whether scaling the seemingly insurmountable cliffs of Pointe du Hoc with his advance assault troops during the Normandy invasion, restoring integrity to the Texas Land Office, or overseeing transitions in an academic institution with hallowed traditions during a time of contentious cultural change, James Earl Rudder (1910–1970) forged a legacy of wartime gallantry and peacetime leadership that commands continuing respect. Rudder: From Leader to Legend pays tribute to a man who exemplified leadership, vision, and courage. Months after the initial book release, Rudder: From Leader to Legend is still a hit.

Now that Texas Governor Rick Perry is a presidential contender, Americans are trying to figure out what spurs his “personal mix of aw-shucks conservatism and swashbuckling anti-Washington rhetoric.” In this Wall Street Journal article, Perry’s unique personality is explored and explained through his Aggie roots. A former yell-leader and member of the corps of cadets, Perry was Mr. Popularity on the A&M campus in the early seventies.

“Former classmates said Mr. Perry's popularity was boosted by several daring pranks he pulled on upperclassmen, including one his campaign recently confirmed: The young Mr. Perry placed live blackbirds in a student's closet to create a putrid stink during a vacation break,” reported Miguel Bustillo, Wall Street Journal.

Copyright: Texas A&M University, courtesy of Wall Street Journal.
Perry while a student at Texas A&M.

While Perry attended Texas A&M, Rudder served as president of the university. Rudder slowly rooted out these shenanigans and successfully pushed to modernize the school, leading to an increase in attendance rates. Hatfield, who is quoted in the Wall Street Journal article explains that "all male, all military' was the motto of the old Army Aggies, who exercised a great influence.”

Read more about Thomas Hatfield, Rudder: From Leader to Legend and order your own copy here.

For more explanation on Perry’s “Aggieisms” and what the Aggie campus was like during Rudder’s presidency, read the full Wall Street Journal article.