A prominent Louisiana political scientist makes plain the reasons for the state's political peculiarities. In the popular American imagination, Louisiana may come closer than any other state to offering the experience of a foreign culture--a Spanish-moss-draped netherland filled with friendly but vaguely threatening Cajuns, seething creature-infested swamps, the whirling masked chaos of Mardi Gras, seductive N'awlins cadences, and most vividly, even pruriently, the train wreck of Louisiana politics: cash-under-the-table shenanigans, fat and sassy environmental polluters, devil-and-the-deep-bluesea electoral choices like the 1991 gubernatorial runoff between the Klan-tainted David Duke and the criminally indicated Edwin Edwards. Wayne Parent sees all of this clearly with both an entertainer's eye and a social scientist's rigor. He subjects Louisiana's politics to rational and empirical analysis, seeking and finding coherent reasons for the state's bizarre spectacle without resorting to vague hand-waving about "exoticism," while at the same time bringing to life the juicy stories that illustrate his points. Parent's main theme is that Louisiana's ethnic mix, natural resources, and geography define a culture that in turn produces its unique political theater. He gives special attention to immigration patterns, Louisiana's abundant supply of oil and gas, and the variations in political temperaments in the state. Most important, he delivers thorough and concise explanations of Louisiana's unusual legal system, odd election rules, overwrought constitutional history, convoluted voting patterns, and unmatched record of political corruption--while at the same time noting signs of change in theoffing. Rich in historical facts, gripping tales, and comparative data, Wayne Parent's primer on Louisiana politics will satisfy anyone agog at the state's saga.
About the Author
Wayne Parent is Russell Long Professor of Political Science and Chair of the Department of Political Science at Louisiana State University. He is a frequent commentator on national and Louisiana politics for the media, including Nightline, CBS Sunday Morning, All Things Considered, Voice of America Radio, CNN News, New York Times, USA Today, Christian Science Monitor, and U.S. News and World Report. Parent is the co-editor of Blacks and the American Political System. His articles have appeared in the American Political Science Review, American Journal of Political Science, Western Political Quarterly, Social Science Quarterly, Polity, Journal of Black Studies and Political Methodology.