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A New Jersey Pruden writes about a Little Rock Pruden in an Arkansas encyclopedia

Written by AMP

One minute I’m mouse-clicking on a headline, “Trying to overturn a free and fair election,” and the next thing I know, I am looking at the pithy “Pruden on Politics” on The Washington Times‘s website, and a couple more mouse-clicks, and I’m at the excellent Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture, where I am face to computer screen with Pruden on Pruden.

“Pruden on Politics” is the home of James Wesley Pruden Jr.’s twice-a-week assault on political flummadiddle. (Such the curmudgeon is he that Mr. Pruden once was awarded the writing prize that is named for the curmudgeon’s curmudgeon, H.L. Mencken Jr.)

Pruden on Pruden, on the other hand, is home to a short biography of the junior Pruden, a Little Rock boy who became a newspaperman, and who, like many other Arkansas newspapermen of his era, started at the Arkansas Gazette and made a name for himself in a big city ~ in his case, Washington, D.C.

I refer to the Pruden entry in Encyclopedia of Arkansas as “Pruden on Pruden” because what we have there is Bill Pruden III writing the story of Wesley Pruden Jr. The two are of no relation. They have never, in fact, met or even spoken. Mr. Pruden III, who is from New Jersey originally, is director of civic engagement, among other matters of importance, at Ravenscroft school (founded 1862) in Raleigh, North Carolina.

The only connection, other than sharing a last name, is that like Mr. Pruden Jr., Mr. Pruden III, whose education includes a master’s degree in political science from Indiana University, takes an interest in history and politics and writing. When the New Jersey Pruden learned about the Arkansas Encyclopedia, and that the editors needed writers, he saw a chance to pursue several of his interests in one place. As he perused the subject matter the Arkansas editors needed, he saw the familiar name, which Mr. Pruden III recognized from his year in Washington, D.C., when Mr. Pruden Jr. was hitting his stride, or, as his detractors might say, hitting his stridency.

Bill Pruden’s telling of Wesley Pruden’s life and (Washington) times is a far gentler recounting than the entry that Terry D. Goddard (that would be the Terry D. Goddard of Northwest Vista College in San Antonio) wrote about his father, Wesley Pruden Sr., a protestant preacher in Little Rock who pioneered radio preaching and was most well known, according to Mr. Goddard, for his strident opposition to integration in Little Rock. Interestingly, Mr. Pruden Jr.’s last year at the Arkansas Gazette was the first year at the paper for author Roy Reed, who would later write of Mr. Pruden’s father “that, had it not been for the school crisis, he would have been ‘destined for the obscurity of a second-tier Baptist Church,’ and that he was ‘a man whose ambition out-paced his abilities.’”

I am neither endorsing nor decrying either of the Pruden’s religion, politics or choice of necktie. I simply wanted to let the folks back home in River City know that Mr. Pruden Jr. still is up to no good, by which I mean, he still writes for a newspaper.

For the past 25 years, he has worked mostly for The Washington Times, where he is editor emeritus. The Jewish World Review also publishes his work.

This is Wesley Pruden Jr.’s biography from The Times‘s website: American journalist legend and Vietnam War author James Wesley Pruden Jr. is Editor Emeritus of The Washington Times. Mr. Pruden’s first job in the newspaper business dates back to 1951 as a copyboy at the now defunct Arkansas Gazette where he later became a sportswriter and an assistant state editor. In 1982, he joined The Washington Times, four months after the paper began, as chief political correspondent. He became assistant managing editor in 1983, managing editor in 1985, and editor-in-chief in 1992. He retired in January 2008 and became editor-in-chief-emeritus. Mr. Pruden is known for his coverage of President Ronald Reagan. In 1991, he won the H.L. Mencken Prize for excellence in writing and commentary. Mr. Pruden writes a twice-weekly column on politics and national affairs for The Times.

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