Ken Hechler was an icon of West Virginia politics who died in 2016 at the age of 102. He was a speechwriter for President Truman, a professor at Marshall University, and a U.S. Congressman from 1959 to 1977. As a congressman he was a principal architect of the Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act of 1969. He served as West Virginia Secretary of State from 1984 until 2004. After retirement he was a tireless and militant campaigner against mountaintop removal coal mining, and was arrested during a 2009 protest. More than once, I remember seeing his signature red jeep parked at Shoney’s in Charleston during their Sunday breakfast buffets. Paul Nyden wrote of this book: “Fascinating new insights into the long career of one of the Mountain state’s most intriguing and maverick political leaders.” The author of this comprehensive and compelling biography is Carter Taylor Seaton of Huntington. She published two previous books of both fiction and non-fiction and received the 2014 West Virginia Library Association’s Literary Merit Award and the 2016 Governor’s Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Arts.
Morgantown: West Virginia University Press, 2017. 344 pages with an index, bibliography, notes and 31 photographs. Trade paperback