POSTED: Monday, July 18, 2011 - 3:30pm
UPDATED: Monday, July 18, 2011 - 3:37pm
BATON ROUGE, La (NBC33) — A year and a half after the Edwin Edwards biography was published, copies are still flying off the shelves. Edwards signed thousands of books in Baton Rouge over the weekend. Author, Leo Honeycutt, is thrilled to be a part of the excitment.
Leo Honeycutt never expected his book to sell like it did. He says it was published just weeks before Christmas. It sold out in three days. By Christmas, 20,000 copies had been sold.
"It just took off," he says.
Initially, Honeycutt hadn't even wanted to write the book. "His arrogance kind of rubbed me the wrong way," he says. "There was a good bit that I didn't like about him."
However, in 2004, former Secretary of State and Insurance Commissioner, Jim Brown, approached him. He changed Honeycutt's mind.
"He said, 'you're on the short list to write the Edwards book.' And I said, 'I don't care if I'm on that list at all. There's a lot about him that I don't like.' He said, 'Oh. It's nice to know that you're an objective reporter.'"
So, in early 2005, Honeycutt got down to the business of learning everything he could about Edwin Edwards. "To understand a man or woman's life, you have to put it into context to understand why they're making the decisions they're making."
What Honeycutt found, surprised him. "For me to know whether he was good or bad for the state, I had to piece it all together, and then put it into one picture," he says. "The overall picture is, he is one of the best administrators we ever had. He is going to be this generation's Huey Long."
More surprising was the reaction he got from readers when the book was published in 2009. "People are fascinated with a personality like that," says Honeycutt. "They're fascinated with a guy who has been able to overcome everything he's overcome, and still sort of come out on top."
Today, Edwards and Honeycutt are friends. "He's just unsinkable," Honeycutt says. "He just keeps going."
The writer says he's thankful he gave the former governor a chance to tell his story. "Is he pure as the driven snow? No. Are there things about him that I still have a problem with? Yeah," says Honeycutt. "But by and large, I think that we've all learned lessons that pre-judging anybody is not a good thing. The only person it really hurts is the person doing the judging."
Learn more about Honeycutt at http://leohoneycutt.com/