ABOUT THIS BOOK
Everybody liked Mo. Throughout his political life— and especially during his bid for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1976— thousands of people were drawn to Arizona congressman Morris K. Udall by his humor, humanity, and courage. This biography traces the remarkable career of the candidate who was "too funny to be president" and introduces readers to Mo the politician, Mo the environmentalist, and Mo the man. Journalists Donald Carson and James Johnson interviewed more than one hundred of Udall's associates and family members to create an unusually rich portrait. They recall Udall's Mormon boyhood in Arizona when he lost an eye at age six, his service during World War II, his brief career in professional basketball, and his work as a lawyer and county prosecutor, which earned him a reputation for fairness and openness.
Mo provides the most complete record of Udall's thirty-year congressional career ever published. It reveals how he challenged the House seniority system and turned the House Interior Committee into a powerful panel that did as much to protect the environment as any organization in the twentieth century. It shows Udall to have been a consensus builder for environmental issues who paved the way for the Alaska Lands Act of 1980, helped set aside 2.4 million acres of wilderness in Arizona, and fought for the Central Arizona Project, one of the most ambitious water projects in U.S. history. Carson and Johnson record Udall's early opposition to the Vietnam War at a time when that conflict was largely perceived as a just cause, as well as his early advocacy of campaign finance reform. They also provide a behind-the-scenes account of his run for the presidency—the first House member to seek the office in nearly a century—which gained him an intensely loyal national following.
Mo explores the paradoxes that beset Udall: He was a man able to accomplish things politically because people genuinely liked and respected him, yet he was a loner and workaholic whose focus on politics overshadowed his personal life. Carson and Johnson devote a chapter to the famous Udall sense of humor. They also look sensitively at his role as a husband and father and at his proud and stubborn bout with Parkinson's disease. Mo Udall will long be remembered for his contributions to environmental legislation, for his unflagging efforts in behalf of Arizona, and for the gentle humor with which he conducted his life. This book secures his legacy.