Sid Salter: Book offers look behind Barbour mystique

STARKVILLE – Slated for an Aug. 15 release, the book by former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour is called “America’s Great Storm: Leading Through Hurricane Katrina” (University Press of Mississippi, 243 pages) and — with an able assist from writer Jere Nash and a moving foreword by former Biloxi newspaper publisher Ricky Mathews — it tells a remarkable tale of resilience, determination, hardball politics and perseverance by the most able politician I’ve ever known.

Books of this nature are usually exercises in self-aggrandizement. This one isn’t. It’s a true story about how a take-no-prisoners politician got thrown into the worst natural disaster in American history and came out the other side a public servant. Hurricane Katrina is the backdrop, but the story really is Barbour’s baptism-by-hurricane into a milieu in which winning was about more than election results — it was about people’s lives.