Nobody But the People

The Life and Times of Alabama’s Youngest Governor

Title Details

Pages: 528

Trim size: 6.120in x 9.250in



Pub Date: 09/01/2008

ISBN: 9-781-5883-8221-4

List Price: $32.50


NewSouth Books

Nobody But the People

The Life and Times of Alabama’s Youngest Governor

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  • Description
  • Reviews
In this first authorized biography of former Alabama Governor John Patterson, historian Warren Trest offers new insights and rich details into the life of a significant Southern politician whose career touched some of the key struggles of the twentieth-century civil rights movement. Patterson later recanted his segregationist views and went on to become a widely respected judge, but as governor from 1958–62, he led Alabama into full white-supremacist rebellion against the national effort to integrate schools and public accommodations. He was a rare Southern supporter of JFK in 1960, but the two broke bitterly over the 1961 Freedom Rides and Kennedy had to send federal marshals into Montgomery to quell KKK-led mobs. Not merely a civil rights account, Nobody But the People also details Patterson's World War II heroism, his role as attorney general in cleaning up vice and corruption, and his efforts to improve education and the economy. Patterson is revealed as a complex and likable politician and jurist whose career was unfortunately blighted by decisions he later regretted on racial issues.
In Nobody but the People: The Life and Times of Alabama’s Youngest Governor, Trest demonstrates deep research and a natural talent for storytelling. Humorous anecdotes, poignant details, and revealing glimpses of both Patterson and peripheral characters, such as George C. Wallace, amplify the context and provide a pleasurable reading experience.

—The Journal of Southern History

The book Nobody But the People is actually written by Warren Trest, but Patterson worked closely with Trest and has been on the circuit promoting its release. From his role in cleaning up organized crime in Phenix City, to a tumultuous term as governor, to the transition to a respected jurist Patterson’s political career has had many acts and Nobody But the People chronicles them all.

—Doc’s Political Parlor

A handful of black-and-white photographs illustrate this compelling, true-life story of Patterson and the many achievements he made during his four-year administration—achievements that are all too often overlooked when examining his stance on civil rights. Highly recommended, and a welcome addition to American biography and Alabama state history collections.

—Midwest Book Review

In Nobody But the People, Warren Trest has given us a thoroughly readable and fair-minded account of John Patterson's career, which was one of the most important in Alabama's recent history. As governor of the state from 1959-63, Patterson's inclinations on issues ranging from public education to the building of roads were noble and progressive. But on the issue of race, he was caught in the tragic time warp of his place, and Trest explores those failings with honesty and heart. The result is a subtle portrait of a complicated man, who has had the courage to admit his mistakes. In telling this important and multi-layered story, Trest has given us a history that is vivid and alive.

—Frye Gaillard, author of Cradle of Freedom: Alabama and the Movement That Changed America

Warren Trest's account is … detailed in its documentation, with footnotes aplenty to suit any academic historian. Part of his meticulousness could be due to the intent to have this be the definitive history of Patterson's era.

—Laura Tutor, The Anniston Star

This biography of John Patterson by Warren Trest offers inside stories of dramatic and monumental events in the history of Alabama. The author tells Patterson’s story in a highly readable, narrative style.

—First Draft

Patterson who was born in Goldville in 1921, and lived in Alexander City while his father practiced law from 1929 to 1933, said he agreed to do the biography because he wanted there to be a historical record of his family. He said the reason for the delay in having a biography published is simple. 'History just can't be told about something until it is at least 50 years old,' he said. 'The important thing for me about the book is being able to have a historical record of my family but especially of my father.'

—The Outlook

Appropriate for public and university libraries and would be enjoyed by those interested in Alabama politics and history.

—Tommy Brown, The Alabama Review

[A] poetic and detailed tome.


Independent scholar Trest analyzes the complex human being who, after all the violence and hatred, was still able to get significant reforms passed that benefited all Alabama and rehabilitated his views to become a respected judge.

—Jane Erskine, Book News, Inc.

About the Author/Editor

WARREN TREST is a former United States Air Force senior historian. A combat reporter, writer, and air power historian in the Korean, Vietnam, and Cold Wars, he has published numerous articles and authored and coauthored more than 50 histories and studies. His book Air Commando One was nominated for the Bancroft Prize for distinguished works in American history. Other recent works include Wings of Denial, Nobody But the People, and Once a Fighter Pilot, and the hard-boiled Jake Falcon mystery novels Missing in Paradise and Requiem for a Flower Child.