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Tuesday, February 27th

Doors Open 5:30 p.m.

Program Starts at 6:00 p.m.

Admission: $7.00 General Public

$5.00 Members 

The History Center

800 Second Avenue SE

Cedar Rapids, IA 52403

Sponsored by: Cedar Rapids Bank & Trust

In Thunder from the Prairie, Jerry Harrington explores the life of Harold E. Hughes: a man of working-class origins who overcame severe alcoholism to become Iowa governor (1963-1969) and US Senator (1969-1974). As a Democratic governor in traditionally Republican Iowa, Hughes, through his charismatic leadership, helped transform Iowa into a competitive two-party state while modernizing state government to make it more responsive to the contemporary needs of its citizens. Hughes was an outspoken leader against the Vietnam War and the American military as senator, and he exposed covert operations such as the illegal bombings of North Vietnam and Cambodia. Relying upon his experience with alcoholism that nearly cost him his life, Senator Hughes spearheaded the creation of the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, which was founded on the principle that alcoholism is a disease, not a personal moral failure. Hughes's moral compass was guided by his Christian beliefs, steering him to politics left of center. In this way, Hughes was distinctive among other openly Christian politicians of his day, whose theology manifested in conservative politics. Jerry Harrington's detailed Thunder from the Prairie is the first book-length treatment of Harold E. Hughes. The work fills major gaps in the history of Iowa and Midwestern political history, as well as the history of the "Long Sixties" (from the late 1950s to the early 1970s). Hughes was an impactful actor within the rise of postwar American liberalism, the conflict over the Vietnam War, and the civil rights movement, and led the effort to reform the Democratic Party to make it more open to women, minorities, and young people.


Jerry Harrington of Iowa City, Iowa, has spent a lifetime writing about Iowa history. A frequent contributor to Iowa History Journal (IHJ), he won the 2016 George Mills-Louise Noun Popular History Award from the Iowa State Historical Society for the IHJ series “Iowa Governors of Influence.” Harrington recently retired as marketing public relations manager for DuPont Pioneer in Johnston, Iowa. He has worked for advertising/public relations agencies in Cedar Rapids, Iowa; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; and Rochester, New York. He has also worked for newspapers in Spencer and Clear Lake, Iowa. He graduated from Cornell College, Mt. Vernon, Iowa, in 1977 with degrees in English and political science and received his master’s degree in history from the University of Iowa in 1981.

Meet the Author
Jerry Harrington

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