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Rodger McDaniel to Discuss Sen. Gale McGee Book at UW Nov. 13

November 7, 2018
head portrait of a man
Rodger McDaniel

Former Wyoming state Sen. Rodger McDaniel will discuss his latest book, “The Man in the Arena: The Life and Times of U.S. Senator Gale McGee,” at the University of Wyoming Tuesday, Nov. 13, at 4:30 p.m. in the Berry Biodiversity Conservation Center auditorium.

The discussion is free and open to the public, and a book signing will follow McDaniel’s talk. The UW Department of History and American Studies sponsors the lecture.

McGee was a professor in the UW Department of History from 1946-1958 and was elected as a Democrat to the U.S. Senate in 1958. He served until 1977, specializing in foreign relations and appropriations through the turbulent period that included the “Red Scare,” the Korean and Vietnam wars and the activist Congress of the 1960s.

“The book is particularly aimed at Wyoming students, as it places those national and international issues in the context of Wyoming politics,” McDaniel says. “It traces the changes in the attitudes of the voters of this state from 1958 -- when they were willing to elect a liberal Democrat whom they knew would be most involved in foreign policy matters -- to 1976, when McGee became the last Democrat to ever be elected to the Senate from this state. The book tries to answer the question, ‘Why?’”

McDaniel chose McGee as his subject not only because of McGee’s involvement with the university, but because of the time in which McGee served. The book discusses the U.S. Senate in the 1960s and 1970s, and Congress’ role in American foreign policy, the Vietnam War and 20th century American politics.

“The book, following the election, is prescient, as it deals with the question of partisan politics and the breakdown of liberalism in national politics around the time of the Reagan Revolution,” says Isadora Helfgott, chair of the UW Department of History and American Studies.

A former Wyoming state legislator from 1971-1981, McDaniel also received a law degree from UW in 1980 and was the Democratic Party nominee for the Senate in 1982. He served as the director of the Wyoming Department of Family Services, where he headed the state’s mental health and substance abuse programs from 2003-2011.

McDaniel is the current pastor at Highlands Presbyterian Church in Cheyenne. He also is the author of four books, including “Dying for Joe McCarthy’s Sins: The Suicide of Wyoming Senator Lester Hunt,” which was named the best nonfiction book of 2013 by the Wyoming State Historical Society.

For more information about McDaniel’s presentation, call Helfgott at (307) 766-5141 or email

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