November 6, 2012
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v2.1 Reference
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November 13, 2012
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Ella Grasso

Connecticut's Pioneering Governor

Intimate portrait of Connecticut's first female governor

When Ella Tambussi Grasso ran for governor of Connecticut in 1974, she had not lost an election since she was first voted into the state's General Assembly in 1952. The people of Connecticut chose her as the nation's first woman to be elected governor in her own right—the capstone of a long and successful career dedicated to public service, effective government, and the democratic process. During her tenure as governor, Grasso's leadership was tested in the face of fiscal problems, state layoffs, and budget shortfalls. The daughter of Italian immigrants, she endeared herself to her constituents during the great Blizzard of 1978, when she stayed at the State Armory around the clock to direct emergency operations and make frequent television appearances. Author Jon E. Purmont, who served as Grasso's executive assistant when she was governor, draws on his diary from that time, research in Grasso's archives, and interviews with Grasso's family and friends to give us a rich and intimate portrait of this political pioneer.

About the Author

JON E. PURMONT is an emeritus professor of history at Southern Connecticut State University. His articles have appeared in Connecticut Review and Connecticut Explored, and he is coauthor of A Concise History of the United States.


"(A) wonderfully detailed biography about the remarkable state leader, the first woman elected governor of any state in her own right and a posthumous recipient of the Medal of Freedom. ... The book provides great insight to Grasso's career and mindset..."—Ray Bendici, Connecticut Magazine


"Ella Grasso was a woman of great character—dedicated, principled, warm and generous. Jon Purmont's biography gives us a rich portrait of the woman who became a role model for so many."—Walter F. Mondale

"Ella Grasso was a force of nature. As the first woman in the country to win a gubernatorial election in her own right, she showed the way for the rest of us to seek and win elections. She was wonderful!"—Barbara Bailey Kennelly, former Connecticut Congresswoman

"With an engaging writing style and a comprehensive grasp of the inner workings of politics, Jon Purmont's fine biography deftly traces Ella Grasso's influences and sets the context for the rise of this dynamic ambitious woman—in a culture that spurned ambition in women. As Purmont's careful analysis makes clear, it was her mastery of constituent service and personal face-to-face retail politics that earned her the respect of the voters and kept her in public office."—Janann Sherman, professor and chair, History Department, University of Memphis


9780819573438 : ella-grasso-purmont
256 Pages
$28.95 USD
9780819573445 : ella-grasso-purmont
Electronic book text
256 Pages
$22.99 USD

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