JCA hosting Flowers’ book signing Thursday

Published 3:00 am Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Steve Flowers, the preeminent authority on Alabama politics, will kick off his “Of Goats & Governors” statewide book tour from 5 until 7 p.m. Thursday at the Johnson Center for the Arts in Downtown Troy.

The Johnson Center will host a reception and book signing for Flowers, who is also Alabama’s premier political journalist and commentator.

“We are excited to have Steve kickoff his book tour in his hometown and at the Johnson Center,” said Vicki Pritchett, Johnson Center executive director. “We will honor him with a reception from 5 until 6 p.m. and then he will be featured in an ArtTalk followed by a question and answer session. Nobody knows Alabama politics better than Steve and nobody tells a better story. We are looking forward to what will be an informative and entertaining event.”

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Flowers said he chose to kickoff his book tour in Troy because that’s where he developed a passion for politics through his friendship with Pike County politicians Ben Reeves and Gardner Bassett.

“They were giants among local politicians and I could not have had two better teachers,” Flowers said of his mentors. “I was an eager learner. Ben and Gardner realized that and encouraged me by letting me tag along with them to see what being a politician was all about.”

Flowers tossed his hat in the political arena in 1982 at the age of 30. He was elected State Representative from Pike County and received the largest number of votes ever cast for any person in a political race in the history of Pike County.

After leaving the Legislature in 2002, Flowers began writing a weekly column on Alabama politics for small- to mid-size newspapers all across the state.

“At the Johnson Center, I’ll talk about growing up in Troy and those who influenced my political career,” Flowers said. “I might talk about Ben Reeves and Gardner Bassett and the 1958 probate race that was the best race ever run in Pike County. And, I’ll talk about some of the most colorful characters in state politics.”

Flowers said his reason for writing “Of Goats & Governors” was to record the stories of politicians like George C. Wallace and “Big Jim” Folsom and the era, he calls, “the most colorful in Alabama political history.”

“I grew up in a time when politicians campaigned on the town square or on the back of a flatbed trailer,” Flowers said. “Politicians who were running for state offices had entertainers like Minnie Pearl and The Strawberry Pickers on the campaign trail with them. Folks came out in droves for the rallies. That was the best of political times.”

And, for Flowers, now is the best of times as he begins a whirlwind, three-month, book signing tour.

He will be featured at two other book signings in the county on Friday. He will be at the Troy Public Library from noon until 2 p.m. and at the Tupper Lightfoot Memorial Library in Brundidge from 3 until 5 p.m.

Then, Flowers will travel to places as near as Ozark, Enterprise and Andalusia. Those are the size cities that are driving the sales of his book. He will also travel to cities as distant as Mobile and Huntsville.

“A funny thing about the book tour,” Flowers said. “Most of the newspapers that publish my weekly columns are about the size of Troy. I’m not in newspapers in places like Mobile and Huntsville so I told my publisher not to expect the books to do anything in those big cities. But, surprisingly, the book is breaking sales records in Mobile and in Huntsville.”

Flowers also will be featured at book signings in Montgomery and Birmingham and will be the keynote speaker at the Alabama Retired State Employees Conference in Florence.

The Alabama State Archives has named “Of Goats & Governors” the state’s History Book of the Year. For that recognition, Flowers will be honored in Montgomery on Oct. 6, with several noted Alabama politicians in attendance, including U.S. Senator Richard Shelby, Gov. Robert Bentley, State Treasurer Young Boozer, former Alabama Gov. Albert Brewer and others.

Flowers said he enjoys traveling the state and having opportunities to meet people who have been reading his political column for 12 years.

“Having only seen my photograph, the one thing they all say is that they didn’t realize how tall I am,” said the 6-foot, five-inch Flowers.

“What they don’t say, but I know they are thinking, is that I look a lot older than my photograph, which was taken about eight years ago.”

The “taller and older” Steve Flowers said he will have a great time traveling the state with his books in tow.

“There will be many opportunities to meet people and share stories with them,” he said. “Writing ‘Of Goats & Governors’ was rewarding because the stories were worth telling and certainly worth preserving. That’s an era of politics that’s gone and will never be again. It was important for those stories to be told.”