By Judy Kurtz
The descendants of a former congressman are aiming to publish the autobiography of their grandfather, who they call “history’s most controversial war hero and politician.”
Brothers Brighton and Skyler Jones are launching a fundraising campaign on the website Kickstarter.com to bring the story of ex.-Rep. Douglas Stringfellow (R-Utah) to the masses.
“Over the years we heard so many stories, and there was always controversy surrounding him,” Brighton Jones, 30, tells ITK.
Stringfellow resigned in 1955 after serving one term in the House, once it was discovered that he lied about his military experience and being paralyzed while he was supposedly tortured as a prisoner of war.
The disgraced lawmaker died in 1966 at age 44. But it was only recently that his kin learned from their 86-year-old grandmother, Stringfellow’s wife, that there was more to his story.
“Sixty years later a voice from the grave — my grandmother — drops the bomb on us, and says, ‘Hey, I got his autobiography here if you guys want it.’ We said, ‘No way, what are you talking about?’ ” Jones recalls with a chuckle.
His grandmother then showed him the original typed manuscript, sitting in a box and bound with a cord.
Jones says Stringfellow declined a $20,000 advance from Random House in 1954 to secure the publishing rights to the writing — which was edited by famed poet Robert Frost — fearing the book would upset his relatives.
Now, with his family’s blessing, Jones and his sibling want to finally get the autobiography out there, setting a $20,000 goal to publish Stringfellow’s memoirs. But the pair has a ways to go before the Dec. 13 funding deadline, having raised about $300 so far.
Jones says he was surprised to learn that Stringfellow had one of the first chronicled cases of post-traumatic stress disorder. “If you try to research information about him, he’s referenced as a fraud, but no one really knows the story behind what happened and what went into it,” he says.
He exclaims of his grandfather, who publicly confessed to lying about his war stories, “I think in a lot of ways, had it happened now… it would be much more accepted because post-traumatic stress disorder is so well documented now.”
The late congressman’s grandson wants to not only publish the book but also eventually produce a short film about the politician.