The Man in the Arena


The Man in the Arena

The Life and Times of U.S. Senator Gale McGee

Rodger McDaniel
Foreword by Alan K. Simpson

416 pages
22 photographs, index


September 2018


$36.95 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

September 2018


$36.95 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

September 2018


$36.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

Best Nonfiction Book of the Year from the Wyoming State Historical Society

There was a time when Wyoming and other Rocky Mountain and midwestern states were as likely to elect a liberal Democrat to Congress as they were a conservative Republican. Gale McGee (1915–92) was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1958, at the height of American liberalism. He typified what Teddy Roosevelt called “the man in the arena” and was a major player in the development of America’s post–World War II foreign policy and almost every legislative milestone in U.S. history from the 1950s to 1980. McGee’s careers as an academic, a senator, and an ambassador spanned World War II, the Red Scare, the Korean and Vietnam Wars, and the activist Congress of the 1960s. This elegantly conceived biography of a liberal from the conservative rural state of Wyoming offers readers a glimpse into formative political shifts of the twentieth century.

The national liberal consensus of the 1960s, in which McGee played a major role, gave the nation Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, the minimum wage, and the right to collective bargaining, as well as landmark civil rights and environmental reforms. That consensus had ended by the mid-1970s as McGee’s liberalism would no longer be welcome to represent the Equality State.

Moving beyond biography, Rodger McDaniel addresses the significant shift in government and details how the attribution “liberal” became a candidate’s epitaph, as widespread distrust of government cast a shadow on the many benefits acquired through the old liberal consensus. McDaniel’s insights into the past as well as McGee’s experiences in the arena shed unexpected light on the present state of U.S. politics and government.

Author Bio

​Rodger McDaniel is a pastor and a former lawyer and Wyoming state senator. He served as a member of the Wyoming state house from 1971 to 1977 (while McGee was a U.S. senator) and in the state senate from 1977 to 1981. McDaniel is the author of Dying for Joe McCarthy’s Sins: The Suicide of Wyoming Senator Lester Hunt. Alan K. Simpson served three terms as a U.S. senator (Republican) from Wyoming (1979–97). He is a co-chair of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform.


"At long last, Wyoming Senator Gale McGee has a sterling biography of his own."—Steve Donoghue, Open Letters Review

"McDaniel has provided a much needed biography about an important and overlooked politician."—Carl Hallberg, Wyoming History Journal

"A welcome addition to the political literature on Wyoming and the nation."—Willam Hewitt, Journal of American History

“Rodger McDaniel is a fine writer and a thorough researcher. His account of the U.S. Senate in the 1960s and 1970s is solid and convincing. He has produced a study that should appeal to anyone interested in Congress’s role in American foreign policy, the Vietnam War, and twentieth-century American politics.”—Don Ritchie, historian emeritus of the U.S. Senate historical office and author of The U.S. Congress: A Very Short Introduction

“Gale McGee was indeed an extraordinary person. He had three distinct careers and loved them all equally. During Gale’s service as a professor, a U.S. senator, and an ambassador his powerful intellect and eloquence reached the young minds in his classroom and reached out across the globe, where he shared his energy, knowledge, and brilliance—all to the common good. Gale leaves a marvelous legacy, chronicled in these pages.”—Alan K. Simpson, former U.S. senator from Wyoming

Table of Contents

Foreword by Alan K. Simpson    
Author’s Note and Acknowledgments    
1. From the “Sons of the Mist” to the Plains of Wyoming    
2. Nothing to Lose but a Little Self-Respect     
3. The Good News from Foggy Bottom    
4. Behind the Iron Curtain    
5. Drunkards Can’t Do That    
6. Not Even a Dark Horse but a Hopeless One    
7. A Name to Be Reckoned With    
8. Give Me Four More Votes    
9. Searching Souls, Minds, and Spirits    
10. A Man of Great Faith, Not Dark Fears    
11. Wars Can No Longer Be Won, but They Can Be Lost    
12. Reaping the Whirlwind    
13. It’s Nice to Have Dick Nixon to Kick Around Again    
14. Wyoming’s Way of Life Is at Stake    
15. Time for a Change    
16. A Third Career    


Best Nonfiction Book of the Year from the Wyoming State Historical Society

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