The Eberly College of Arts and Sciences and its acclaimed West Virginia University Press will formally launch publication ofRobert C. Byrd: Child of the Appalachian Coalfields,the senators 800-page autobiography, with two special eventsJune 20 in Morgantown and June 21 in Washington, D.C.
The state launch will be held at 11 a.m. Monday, June 20West Virginia Dayat the WVU College of Laws Lugar Courtroom. Sen. Byrd will be on hand for the event, which will include a personal reading from his memoirs and a display of memorabilia.
The national launch will be held Tuesday, June 21, at the National Archives William G. McGowan Theater (at Constitution Avenue and 7th Street NW). A reception is planned for 6 p.m., with a personal reading to follow at 6:45 p.m. The Rotunda for the Charters of Freedom will be open to the public following the reading until 9 p.m.
Copies of the book with the senators signature on book plates will be available at the Morgantown event; price of the book is $35.
The book can also be purchased in advance by contacting the WVU Press toll-free at 1-866-WVUPRESS, or by visitingwww.wvupress.com. Beginning June 20, the senators book, unsigned, will be available atwww.amazon.com.
Robert C. Byrd: Child of the Appalachian Coalfieldsrecounts the senators life experiences from growing up in Stotesbury, W.Va., in the early 1920s to his election to an unprecedented eighth U.S. Senate term in 2000, said Patrick Conner, director of the WVU Press.
The WVU Press, he added, is noted for its publications by West Virginia authors and about Appalachian life.
This book is the generous act of a most generous man who offers us in these 800 pages the chance to understand intimately his role in our political history since World War II,Conner said.
In 1946, Byrd ran for the West Virginia House of Delegates and served two terms before winning a state Senate seat in 1950. In 1952, he won a seat in Congress and, in 1958, the seat in the U.S. Senate he has held ever since.
Only two members of Congress in U.S. history have served longer than Byrd.
He is the former chairman and current ranking member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, and twice served as Senate majority leaderthe only West Virginian to ever hold the post. Today, he ranks as the President Pro Tempore of the U.S. Senate.
Throughout his career, Byrd often has been the voice of the U.S. Senate, Conner said. Byrd spoke for his chamber after the death of President John F. Kennedy, remembering him for all time as a manof good and abiding faith in our people and the peoples of the world.
When President Richard Nixon resigned during the Watergate scandal, Byrd spoke for the Senate when he said,It is a sad ending of a career of a president who, had
it not been for Watergate, might have ranked with some of the greatest presidents.
Conner said the new bookis all the senators work.
Every word in the book came from him, and the first version of the manuscript was over 1,700 pages long. Sen. Byrd was, moreover, one of the best authors we have worked with at the West Virginia University Press. He met deadlines, looked at everything three or four times, involved himself completely in the production of the book, and never missed a chance to express his appreciation for the work we did as well.
Byrd called the projecta labor of love,adding,the book takes the reader on a journeythe story of my life.
WVU President David C. Hardesty Jr. called the booka wonderful gift from one of Americas greatest statesmen.
It would be a grand thing to have such a book written by every senator and congressperson who has served West Virginia, but if we can have only one, this is the one to have,Conner said.
Byrds last book,Losing America,published in 2004, was a best seller. He has also written a four-volume history of the U.S. Senate and a history of the Roman Senate.
Byrd was born Nov. 20, 1917. He has been married to his loving wife, Erma, for nearly 68 years.