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Books: Cultural History

Senator William Jenner was certainly one of Indiana’s most colorful lawmaker of the twentieth century.

Serving from 1947-1958 in the U.S. Senate, he championed staunch conservative values: restrained government, opposition to tyrannical and blood-thirsty regimes abroad instead of “kowtowing” to their expansionist outreach and oppression of their own peoples, and character in Washington D.C. Jenner has been called a prototype for such conservative leaders as Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan.

His earnest rhetoric, advocacy of restraint in government and sense of humor on the Senate floor made him popular and respected on both sides of the aisle; his work on the Senate Internal Security Committee was universally praised.

This book follows for the first time in print the political career of this Indiana politician, but beyond that it is a personal look at life of a family in the 1950s United States Senate from an insider’s viewpoint: the author is the son of William Ezra Jenner and lived himself in the whirling eddies and flows of the nation’s capital.

The book is an engaging, revealing and authoritative first look at a senator whose style was a combination of informed public service and down-home Hoosier values. Young Bill Jenner has done a scholar’s job of searching records and newspapers of the times to bring “Jenner of Indiana” to life. An added bonus in the book is the detailed coverage of the shifting, focused and often bitter rivalries of the Republican party in the days when conventions were smoke-filled male-dominated bull sessions, fights over the podium and leadership and prosecutions for fraud were the order of the day.