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V. O. Key, Jr.

The Quintessential Political Scientist


Andrew M. Lucker

This book consists of an extensive examination of the work and life of one of the most important American political scientists of the twentieth century, V. O. Key, Jr. (1908-1963). The research is based on Key’s voluminous personal papers, interviews with his family, colleagues, and graduate students, plus thorough study of all of his published and unpublished writings, much of which is not readily accessible today.
Part I offers a narrative account of Key’s life from his upbringing and early education in Texas, through his graduate political science training at the University of Chicago and his steady rise as a scholar from the latter 1930s through the end of the 1940s, to his highly productive final fourteen years (1949-1963) at the very pinnacle of the discipline. Part II is made up of five chapters that explore the many aspects of Key’s professional career during his peak years, chapters that fully reveal his wise, sensible approach to the study of politics.