THE STORY OF AN EXTRAORDINARY TIME.
COUP is the story of the extraordinary 1979 ouster of Tennessee’s Governor Ray Blanton by senior leaders of his own political party. Based on 163 interviews, Keel Hunt’s COUP describes one fateful day when collaborators came together from opposite sides of the political aisle and – with no precedent in American history - reached agreement to stop what one FBI agent called “the state’s most heinous political crime in half a century” – selling pardons for cash.
On January 17, 1979, driven by new information that some of the worst criminals in the state’s penitentiaries were about to be released (and fears that James Earl Ray might be one of them), a small bipartisan group chose to take charge. Senior Democratic leaders, friends of the sitting governor, together with the Republican governor-elect Lamar Alexander (now U.S. Senator from Tennessee), agreed to oust Blanton from office before another night fell. It was a maneuver unique in American political history.
FROM THE FOREWORD BY JOHN L. SEIGENTHALER
“The individual stories of those government officials involved in the coup–each account unique, but all of them intersecting–were scattered like disconnected pieces of a jigsaw puzzle on the table of history until the author conceived this book. Perhaps because it happened so quickly, and without major disagreement, protest, or dissent, this truly historic moment has been buried in the public mind. In unearthing the drama in gripping detail, Keel Hunt assures that the ‘dark day’ will be remembered as a bright one in which conflicted politicians came together in the public interest.”
Keel Hunt is a columnist for the USA Today Network in Tennessee. He has been a reporter, editor, Washington correspondent, and editorial writer.
From 1979 to 1986 he was Special Assistant to Governor Lamar Alexander.
COUP is his second book.
The Coup in Pictures…
Are you enthralled with Tennessee politics?
Read the book and then catch up with Keel to discuss and dive deeper.
MORE THOUGHTS ABOUT COUP:
“…told with page-turning intensity”
–Professor Michael Nelson, Rhodes College
“A recommended read for anyone interested in Tennessee history or politics.”
–Tom Humphrey, Knoxville News Sentinel
“…a great accomplishment of reporting and writing. It’s a page turner from start to finish, with lots of great insights into the characters involved and a compelling chronicle of compelling events.”
–Kenneth Jost, Author of The Supreme Court Yearbook
“…well-written and hard to put down once you open the first pages.”
–Victor Ashe, former Mayor of Knoxville and U.S. Ambassador to Poland