A WITNESS TO HISTORY
George H. Mahon,
West Texas Congressman
By Janet M. Neugebauer
Foreword by Kent Hance
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This is the story of George H. Mahon, a man who went to Congress in 1935, when the House Committee on Appropriations still allocated a small amount of money to buy military horses. Forty-four years later, when Mahon retired as Chairman of that same committee, the committee was debating funds to purchase a bomber capable of traveling at 2,000 miles an hour. With a career spanning nearly a half century—spanning almost the entire Cold War—Mahon grew from a West Texas country lawyer to one of the most powerful men in the US House of Representatives, serving twenty-two consecutive terms from 1935–1978.
During his time in Congress, Mahon worked easily with the giants of government, enjoying the friendship and confidence of seven of the eight presidents with whom he served. He worked just as comfortably with his constituents in the Nineteenth Congressional District of Texas. Mahon served on several Congressional committees, but it is through his service on the House Appropriations Committee and the Subcommittee on Defense Appropriations that he had the greatest national impact. He often bragged that under his leadership the Subcommittee on Defense Appropriations was the most non-partisan committee in Congress. Mahon led the subcommittee with a strong but gentle hand that earned him the respect of all who served with him.
In A Witness to History, Janet M. Neugebauer captures the essence of George H. Mahon as a man from humble beginnings; a loving son, husband, father, and grandfather; and a powerful and influential West Texas congressman. While Mahon wasn’t perfect, of course, he definitely came pretty close. The overarching view of Mahon’s strong personality is that he was a man of integrity and honesty and dedicated to the American people, especially his West Texas constituents in the 19th Congressional District of Texas. Mahon was a straight shooter with an indefatigable work ethic and complete devotion to whatever appointment came his way. While Mahon sometimes voted against specific bills that he felt gave the Federal Government too much power, he always did so with his constituents in mind.
Neugebauer expertly weaves Mahon’s personal life with his high-profile life in Washington. Mahon’s political career spanned decades, allowing him to participate in legislation, appropriations, and bills throughout several presidencies. Mahon truly was a witness to history!
While the book is large and chock full of information, the narrative is segmented in a timeline, ranging from Mahon’s birth in 1900 to the end of his 22 congressional terms in 1978 to his death in 1985. This organization makes it easy for readers to reference specific historical as well as historic events throughout Mahon’s life and career.
A Witness to History is the story about a man who stayed true to himself, his family, his constituents, and his country, all in a political arena that often promotes hidden agendas and fair-weather friends. This book would make a valuable addition to anyone’s personal library as a reference to history or simply an interesting and educational biography.
Enter the giveaway below to win a signed copy of A Witness to History: George H. Mahon, West Texas Congressman by Janet M. Neugebauer (Forward by Kent Hance).
Janet M. Neugebauer is deputy director of the Southwest Collection at Texas Tech University. Her many works include Lambshead Legacy and Plains Farmer.
Kent Hance is a former Chancellor of the Texas Tech University System and a former member of the US House of Representatives.
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April 26-May 7, 2017
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