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The Political Life of Governor Bruce King
By Bruce King as told to Charles Poling

Order from Sunstone: (800) 243-5644


Bruce King towered over the political landscape of New Mexico in the last half of the twentieth century. Born the son of a homesteader in the tiny Santa Fe County farm-and-ranch community of Stanley, King decided in seventh grade to be governor of New Mexico. The story of how he accomplished that goal—three times!—plays out against the tremendous transformations occurring in the society, culture, politics, and business of New Mexico since World War II. When King won his first Santa Fe County Commission seat in 1954 at age 29, running for office was a down-home affair. Politics was personal. But as he served in office and climbed the political ladder toward his lifelong ambition, New Mexico changed. The state’s population shifted away from the rural communities to the rapidly expanding cities, while the once-dominant agricultural interests in the legislature yielded to the emerging urban voting blocs. Meanwhile, the challenges of governing grew ever more complex. King’s well-recognized skills of mediation and conciliation helped him lead the state through a time of often-bewildering change. This book is rich with colorful stories as King recalls the major events of his career and conveys the human side of campaigning, governing, political deal-making, and sparring with the press. He also talks about his friendships and encounters with many of the leading national and state political figures of our time, including President Bill Clinton, President Ronald Reagan, President Jimmy Carter, Senator Pete Domenici, and then Energy Secretary Bill Richardson. A classic tale of political intuitions spiced by New Mexico flavor as unique as Hatch green chile, Cowboy in the Roundhouse is lively reading. As famed mystery writer Tony Hillerman writes in his introduction to the book, “While I count myself among the many who wanted Bruce King to write an autobiography, I doubt if any of us had much hope he’d get around to doing it. Now he has and it’s even better than we’d expected.”

Charles Poling is a journalist and author who could not remember a time when Bruce King was not governor. Poling writes fiction and true stories about the history, business, politics and daily life of New Mexico. He currently makes his home in Placitas, where the past, present, and future blend together and resonate with the peculiar harmony and dissonance known as New Mexico.

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