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The Centennial Senator
True Stories of Strom Thurmond from the People Who Knew Him Best

R. J. Duke Short
Foreword by U.S. Senator Bob Dole

An intimate portrait of a legendary figure in national politics as shared by his inner circle

The Centennial Senator gives readers unprecedented access into the public and private life of U.S. Senator J. Strom Thurmond of South Carolina through personal reflections from more than 150 friends, staffers, colleagues, and constituents. From presidents, senators, and Supreme Court justices to Thurmond's legislative assistants and personal driver, the senator's inner circle speaks candidly about these unforgettable interactions with the man behind the lore. Through their memories Thurmond emerges as a multifaceted individual—politician, boss, ladies' man, family man, fitness advocate, backseat driver, soldier, dancer, and friend—who, across his many roles and long life, held public service to his state and nation as the highest calling.

Collected by R. J. Duke Short, who served on Thurmond's staff for thirty years and as his chief of staff for fifteen, these stories and quips are further enhanced by Short's introduction and a foreword by U.S. Senator Bob Dole.

R. J. Duke Short served for fifteen years as chief of staff to U.S. Senator Strom Thurmond. Prior to that, Short was staff director and chief investigator for the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary. He also served as senior investigator to the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Internal Security and as a special agent in the Intelligence Division of the U.S. Treasury Department. For ten consecutive years Roll Call named Short one the fifty most powerful staffers on Capitol Hill. In 2002 Governor James Hodges conferred on Short the Order of the Palmetto, South Carolina's highest civilian honor. Short lives in Alexandria, Virginia.

"The Centennial Senator is a uniquely private account of Senator Thurmond—Thurmond the man, the politician, the war hero, the boss, the generous friend, the doting and committed father—as told by the men and women who knew this legendary man first-hand. Whether offered by presidents, senators, Supreme Court judges, ambassadors, former staff, or constituents, the unforgettable anecdotes and reflections are at once touching, hilarious, and fascinating."—U.S. Senator Bob Dole



book cover


6 x 9
480 pages
92 illustrations
ISBN 978-0-9778870-0-2
hardcover, $34.95t
Distributed for the author
George H. W. Bush
George W. Bush
James B. Edwards
Gerald Ford
Newt Gingrich
Ruth Bader Ginsberg
Lindsey Graham
Orrin Hatch
Trent Lott
Sandra Day O'Connor
William Rehnquist
Alan Simpson
Clarence Thomas
John Walsh
Joe Wilson
and many others.

    Copyright ©2018 The University of South Carolina Press