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The Making of the President 1960

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What is a presidential election? "The most awesome transfer of power in the world—, the power to marshal & mobilize, the power to send men to kill or be killed, the power to tax & destroy, the power to create & the responsibility to do so, the power to guide & the responsibility to heal —all committed into the hands of one man." These words, written by Theodore H. White in What is a presidential election? "The most awesome transfer of power in the world—, the power to marshal & mobilize, the power to send men to kill or be killed, the power to tax & destroy, the power to create & the responsibility to do so, the power to guide & the responsibility to heal —all committed into the hands of one man." These words, written by Theodore H. White in the opening chapter of this book, are as true today as when they were written over a half-century ago. His unprecedented examination of crucial campaign, in which the young, charismatic John F. Kennedy squared off against the seasoned vice president, Richard M. Nixon, is both a fascinating historical document & a compelling narrative of character & consequence. The reporter's detailed appreciation of the instinct & experience that shape the political process is a revelation in our current age of sound bites, relentlessly chattering punditry & the all-consuming influence of tv, —an influence 1st felt in the Kennedy-Nixon debates that proved to be a critical factor in the 1960 election. Following seven candidates from the earliest stirrings of aspiration thru the rigors of the primaries, the drama of the conventions & the grueling campaigning that culminated in one of the closest electoral contests in history, White provides a valuable education in the ways & means of our political life. The Making of the President 1960 is an extraordinary document, a celebration of the genius of American democracy & an anatomy of the ambition, cunning & courage it demands from those who seek its highest office. For what it can teach us about the forces that determine the destiny of presidential candidates, it remains required reading today. White was born in Boston in 1915. After Harvard graduation, he was recruited by John Hersey to cover E. Asia for Time, becoming chief of its China Bureau in '45. This experience inspired his 1st book, Thunder Out of China (written with Annalee Jacoby). In '48 he went to live in Europe. His experience as a European correspondent led to Fire in the Ashes, published in '53. That same year he returned to the USA to work as national correspondent for The Reporter, then for Collier's. After its collapse in '56, he completed two novels, The Mountain Road & The View from the Fortieth Floor, in the next four years. At the time Collier's closed, he was planning a story on "The Making of the President 1956" for the magazine. He revived the idea in the next election year, resulting in his most famous book, The Making of the President 1960, which was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction in 1962. Having found his vocation as our "storyteller of elections," he went on to produce three more Making of the President volumes, covering 1964, 1968 & 1972 campaigns. Subsequently, he was author of Breach of Faith: The Fall of Richard Nixon; In Search of History: A Personal Adventure; & America in Search of Itself: The Making of the President 1956-80. He died in 5/86.


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What is a presidential election? "The most awesome transfer of power in the world—, the power to marshal & mobilize, the power to send men to kill or be killed, the power to tax & destroy, the power to create & the responsibility to do so, the power to guide & the responsibility to heal —all committed into the hands of one man." These words, written by Theodore H. White in What is a presidential election? "The most awesome transfer of power in the world—, the power to marshal & mobilize, the power to send men to kill or be killed, the power to tax & destroy, the power to create & the responsibility to do so, the power to guide & the responsibility to heal —all committed into the hands of one man." These words, written by Theodore H. White in the opening chapter of this book, are as true today as when they were written over a half-century ago. His unprecedented examination of crucial campaign, in which the young, charismatic John F. Kennedy squared off against the seasoned vice president, Richard M. Nixon, is both a fascinating historical document & a compelling narrative of character & consequence. The reporter's detailed appreciation of the instinct & experience that shape the political process is a revelation in our current age of sound bites, relentlessly chattering punditry & the all-consuming influence of tv, —an influence 1st felt in the Kennedy-Nixon debates that proved to be a critical factor in the 1960 election. Following seven candidates from the earliest stirrings of aspiration thru the rigors of the primaries, the drama of the conventions & the grueling campaigning that culminated in one of the closest electoral contests in history, White provides a valuable education in the ways & means of our political life. The Making of the President 1960 is an extraordinary document, a celebration of the genius of American democracy & an anatomy of the ambition, cunning & courage it demands from those who seek its highest office. For what it can teach us about the forces that determine the destiny of presidential candidates, it remains required reading today. White was born in Boston in 1915. After Harvard graduation, he was recruited by John Hersey to cover E. Asia for Time, becoming chief of its China Bureau in '45. This experience inspired his 1st book, Thunder Out of China (written with Annalee Jacoby). In '48 he went to live in Europe. His experience as a European correspondent led to Fire in the Ashes, published in '53. That same year he returned to the USA to work as national correspondent for The Reporter, then for Collier's. After its collapse in '56, he completed two novels, The Mountain Road & The View from the Fortieth Floor, in the next four years. At the time Collier's closed, he was planning a story on "The Making of the President 1956" for the magazine. He revived the idea in the next election year, resulting in his most famous book, The Making of the President 1960, which was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction in 1962. Having found his vocation as our "storyteller of elections," he went on to produce three more Making of the President volumes, covering 1964, 1968 & 1972 campaigns. Subsequently, he was author of Breach of Faith: The Fall of Richard Nixon; In Search of History: A Personal Adventure; & America in Search of Itself: The Making of the President 1956-80. He died in 5/86.

30 review for The Making of the President 1960

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jonfaith

    Every American election summons the individual voter to weigh the past against the future. Last Tuesday my wife worked half the day and came home. We then walked the two blocks or so to vote. Early voting allows one to go to the polls weeks in advance yet there is something uplifting about going out on Election Day. Walking back, I rattled off my list of those I voted for which failed to find victory. That was likely just nerves. Theodore White leaves the reader with a different sort of anxiety. Every American election summons the individual voter to weigh the past against the future. Last Tuesday my wife worked half the day and came home. We then walked the two blocks or so to vote. Early voting allows one to go to the polls weeks in advance yet there is something uplifting about going out on Election Day. Walking back, I rattled off my list of those I voted for which failed to find victory. That was likely just nerves. Theodore White leaves the reader with a different sort of anxiety. The election process remains such an experiment, so prone to caprice and misunderstanding. It was difficult to not frame the 2016 election in the terms revealed. Instead I found pleasure in measuring the temperament of Nixon and Johnson, leaving the Kennedy cool for another day. 1960 was the campaign where the candidates pushed hard for the primaries to give mandate ahead of the convention. Such is a remarkable process. the idea that Kennedy's Catholic faith was an issue strikes me as almost quaint. The concluding chapter fleshes out the opening days in Camelot, though the spectre of Asia that White sniffs is from Laos -- not Vietnam. There is always a tendency to look ahead, to imagine omens for the future. That is likely a reckless pursuit. I did appreciate White on race which features prominently, perhaps at the expense of foreign policy. The book is concerned with the quotidian drudgery of the presidential candidate. There is much to appreciate. I am not sure much has changed in the interim despite advances in technology.

  2. 5 out of 5

    ALLEN

    When I first read this book in high school, in conjunction with the 1968 Presidential campaign, I was impressed. Now this winner of a 1962 Pulitzer seems brilliant but flawed, one of the stranger books I once loved. In 1960 Theodore "Teddy" White affirmed that California was one of the least corrupt, most efficient states in the nation, that Northeastern elites determined not only the slating of candidates, but much of the electoral outcome, and that the labor vote was a significant part of the When I first read this book in high school, in conjunction with the 1968 Presidential campaign, I was impressed. Now this winner of a 1962 Pulitzer seems brilliant but flawed, one of the stranger books I once loved. In 1960 Theodore "Teddy" White affirmed that California was one of the least corrupt, most efficient states in the nation, that Northeastern elites determined not only the slating of candidates, but much of the electoral outcome, and that the labor vote was a significant part of the electorate. He understood that racial/ethnic minorities were sure to rise, but doesn't interview any of them. Women answered the phones and ran the mimeograph machines but didn't run for office. That is hardly today's situation, of course, and this book may be of very limited relevance for the student who wants to invoke the past to predict the future, or even determine the present, which I think is a large part of why we read any history. It isn't Teddy White's fault the country has changed so, of course, but this book is rife with tendencies and attitudes that a less-than-charitable observer today might think helped foretell Sixties radicalism, when nobody really know what was coming in that decade. White thought -- because he was right -- that voter turnout was largely in the hands of the "old pros" who manipulated large blocs of voters by factors like ethnicity, party affiliation or union membership. He stresses the precarious nature of primaries, not knowing that the practice, then thought a remnant of the Progressive Era and on the way out, would become nearly universal throughout the states. There were no such things as Superdelegates so White could not possibly have understood what it meant for an unpopular pol like Hilary Clinton to get a lock on her party that no convention could alter. He thought of television as a pervasive -- and unsettling -- way of reaching the mass of voters instantaneously without understanding that the school of TV would become today's school of hard knocks for a media candidate like Donald Trump, who could circumvent the electoral process on the way up. Perhaps worst of all is the way Teddy White fell in love with John Kennedy. He shows a hero worship nearly unimaginable today, and all this in 1961 while Kennedy was still a glamorous but real-life politician before the tragic 1963 assassination and its opportunity for hero-worship and hagiography. Should you read this book? Probably, to understand how vigorous this country's electoral process seemed in 1960, and how optimistic the nation -- also how naive.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Erik Graff

    During the televised presidential debates Father let me stay up to watch. His television viewing, his subscriptions and his taking me along to attend village council meetings made me interested in politics at an early age. Thus, when it was announced that Jack Kennedy would be speaking one morning at the Meadowdale Shopping Center in Kane County, I didn't go to school. Instead, I walked over to where the crowd, a big one, was milling. Being small, it was easy to slip among the legs of the grownup During the televised presidential debates Father let me stay up to watch. His television viewing, his subscriptions and his taking me along to attend village council meetings made me interested in politics at an early age. Thus, when it was announced that Jack Kennedy would be speaking one morning at the Meadowdale Shopping Center in Kane County, I didn't go to school. Instead, I walked over to where the crowd, a big one, was milling. Being small, it was easy to slip among the legs of the grownups to the back of the hastily constructed stage in front of the red-white-and-blue Meadowdale watertower. It was even easy to get up the stage. Everyone must have figured I was with some parent who belonged there. Kennedy was talking as I got to his dark suited right leg and was discerned by one of the equally well-dressed Secret Service men. A query made it clear I'd no business there, so he picked me up and handed me over the pine railing to one of his fellows on the pavement, telling me to go back to my parents. I headed back through the crowd, excited by having been on stage, but increasingly nervous about what might now happen at school, until there, on the fringes, in her customary black with a matching, sequinned sash announcing KENNEDY I saw Miss Shriver, our beloved third grade teacher, as she, apparently, was seeing me. Saying "I won't tell if you won't tell", the fellow-truant bade me to get to class. God knows how the substitute handled it, but no punishment was forthcoming. Months later, in 1962, I was in Norway. Mom, my little brother and I had been there for months, being joined in August by Father. The Making of the President 1960 had been recently published and Dad had brought along a paperback copy sealed by him in green plastic for its protection. There's a photograph of me with the book in hand with a view of snowy mountains through the window in the background. I read the book first then, that summer, and was delighted--more than delighted--that the rally in Meadowdale was given a line's mention in the text. Then, after The Making...1964 came out, I read it again, followed, later, by Making...1968 and 1972. All portray an insider's view of the the two primary campaigns by an experienced political reporter and all are worth reading, but The Making of the President 1960 is best because I am in it...sort of.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Steve

    This book probably deserves another star, but the last hundred pages were a real slog. White writes beautifully, but it's hard not to notice his major Man Crush on JFK. He's new, he's exciting, he dresses well, etc. It's no wonder that Jackie approached White over the whole "Camelot" thing, because that's exactly what you see between the lines. Surprisingly, this doesn't burden the book, since White's treatment of Nixon is sympathetic. Probably the most sympathetic I've read. And since the book This book probably deserves another star, but the last hundred pages were a real slog. White writes beautifully, but it's hard not to notice his major Man Crush on JFK. He's new, he's exciting, he dresses well, etc. It's no wonder that Jackie approached White over the whole "Camelot" thing, because that's exactly what you see between the lines. Surprisingly, this doesn't burden the book, since White's treatment of Nixon is sympathetic. Probably the most sympathetic I've read. And since the book was a product of the immediate campaign, I have no idea whether White knew of the darker stuff, like JFK bag men buying votes in West Virginia, But you do get the sense that White is something of a romantic, and that this particular political duel is noble stuff. More importantly, White gives a great account of the what the country was like in 1960, while signaling, accurately, the great changes ahead. One can't help but feel a bit of sadness over all of this enthusiasm, knowing what will be coming for JFK, and later, the country.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Bryan--The Bee’s Knees

    This review was written in 2013, right after I'd read the book. I've appended a few minor changes, which I've bracketed, but essentially this was how I felt about it back then: Simply put, The Making of the President 1960 is the story of the men who ran for President in 1960, and of the success or failure of their campaigns. Compiled just after the election, it is divided roughly into two parts, the first of which concerns the variety of strategies used to garner the party nominations. Thus, the This review was written in 2013, right after I'd read the book. I've appended a few minor changes, which I've bracketed, but essentially this was how I felt about it back then: Simply put, The Making of the President 1960 is the story of the men who ran for President in 1960, and of the success or failure of their campaigns. Compiled just after the election, it is divided roughly into two parts, the first of which concerns the variety of strategies used to garner the party nominations. Thus, the author discusses the political landscape that gave Kennedy, LBJ, Hubert Humphrey and Stuart Symington the confidence to battle for the democratic nomination (with Adlai Stevenson waiting patiently to see if he would be offered the democratic crown a third time), and, in alternating chapters, the fractious dispute between Rockefeller and Nixon. The second half follows the two candidates post-convention. The entirety is best summed up by Theodore White himself, from the first sentence of his forward note: 'This book is an attempt to tell part of the story of how the Americans chose their President in 1960.' This may seem like an odd choice of reading material, following, as it does, so quickly on the heels of the most recent [2012] foray into quadrennial politics. But I had a reason: over the holidays, my ten-year-old daughter, in an honest and heart-warming display of generosity, gave me the book Killing Kennedy: The End of Camelot in an attempt to match my reading tastes. In her words; 'I know you liked boring books, so I just looked for the most boring book I could find that I thought you would like.' Since we're on the subjects of presidents, I can only say I find that argument unimpeachable. And since I've had The Making of on my to-be-read list for some time, I thought it might be interesting to read these two in close conjunction and compare White's journalistic impression of Kennedy's ascendency to the Presidency with O'Reilly's (or second banana Dugard's) latter day evaluation of its finale. There are several things that I took away from The Making of the President, some surely intended by the author, and some apparent only because time has passed. From a narrative standpoint, I thought the initial chapters describing the fight for the Democratic nomination very interesting. This was a part of the story with which I was largely unfamiliar, and learning how each contender tailored their campaign to show their strengths and conceal their weaknesses not only kept my attention, but also injected a bit of suspense into the process. Additionally, the nomination process itself was entirely different in 1960 as opposed to today, or at least how I understand it. At that time, primaries were only held in a handful of states - delegates were often controlled by party machinery, and how well a candidate was able to coerce or inspire party bosses determined what sort of chance he had at the presidency. For example, according to White, Adlai Stevenson, finally deciding to throw his hat in the ring at the last minute at the urging of his supporters, had his hopes crushed when Chicago Mayor Richard Daly refused to allow the delegates under his control to vote for their fellow Illinoisan. Another key point that White brings out is the extent that the candidates themselves are shaped by events and the people around them. In reality, this often comes across as the idea that a man will say and do anything to get elected, but I think White adds nuance to this bit of accepted wisdom. As he tells it, Nixon was only able to garner the nomination because he acquiesced to Nelson Rockefeller's demands prior to the convention. Campaign strategies are developed in accordance with the real concerns and hopes of the constituencies as well as other power brokers within the party, rather than purely on the candidate's convictions. This is hardly groundbreaking, but White infuses this harsh reality with more generosity for the men involved in the process than the cynicism I'm familiar with today--which could just as well be seen as a failing as a strength. White's style is lofty, and elevates the candidates and many of their staff to the status of demigods, especially John and Bobby Kennedy. One has the feeling that his heart is never really in it to do the same with Nixon. I consider it a fault, this tendency to mythologize, but regardless of how one sees it, it nevertheless indicates a difference in perception, and one that would probably be regarded as naïve today. [I've changed my mind on this completely--if anything, the tendency to mythologize seems to have gotten worse.] Once the nominating conventions are over, the book loses steam. White must have felt compelled to sprinkle in a wide variety of statistics to help explain the candidate's maneuvers, so we get census data, demographics, industrial and agricultural data, etc, and frankly, I skimmed these paragraphs. The author also did a good job communicating the emotional and physical drag of the campaign trail, as I felt a little bit the same way as the book staggered to a halt. But aside from the particular events that Mr. White is trying to relate, there is an intriguing aspect to the story that I kept returning to every few pages: In almost all accounts one might read now of Kennedy and Nixon, whether chronicling this time or of the two men individually, the author will have chosen his or her words with full knowledge of Oswald and Watergate. White is writing on the far side of that gulf, and I think--despite his barely concealed, starry-eyed appreciation of Kennedy--that it is particularly informative to read an assessment of these two before the events that would help define them for history. [One only has to read O'Reilly's gross miscarriage of historiography to see why.] For that reason, I think the book is a must for those interested in these two personalities. History buffs and political junkies should also find value here, though perhaps not as much.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Book Concierge

    Subtitle: A Narrative History of American Politics in Action. About a year before the November 1960 election, Theodore H White began studying the likely candidates. He focused on a handful of men with aspirations and/or apparent qualifications: Humphrey, Kennedy, Stevenson, Johnson, Nixon, Rockefeller. He travelled from state to state reporting on the primaries or state caucuses / conventions. (In that era, there were only sixteen states that held primaries!) He attended the Democratic and Republ Subtitle: A Narrative History of American Politics in Action. About a year before the November 1960 election, Theodore H White began studying the likely candidates. He focused on a handful of men with aspirations and/or apparent qualifications: Humphrey, Kennedy, Stevenson, Johnson, Nixon, Rockefeller. He travelled from state to state reporting on the primaries or state caucuses / conventions. (In that era, there were only sixteen states that held primaries!) He attended the Democratic and Republican national conventions. And he closely followed the candidates as they campaigned for the presidency. I was fascinated to learn some of this history, and the first-hand look at the “political machines” that produced these two candidates, and ultimately President John F Kennedy. I also found this a surprisingly nostalgic book … It was published in 1961, shortly after Kennedy’s inauguration, so there is no hint of what is to come in November 1963. It’s somewhat dated – the process is different more than half a century later. And yet, there is something timeless about this story. Serious issues of race, the economy, potential for nuclear war, etc still plague our country. Good men and women still struggle to find solutions. My face-to-face book club had a fascinating and spirited discussion of this work.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Aaron Million

    This is the first book (of an eventual four) that White wrote to chronicle a presidential election. This is the only one of the four to have won any award (Pulitzer Prize). By the time White wrote this book, he was already a well-known and respected journalist. But the success of The Making of the President series is now what he is most remembered for. White's strength here is his innate ability to paint such vivid pictures of the personalities and locations involved. His chapters describing the This is the first book (of an eventual four) that White wrote to chronicle a presidential election. This is the only one of the four to have won any award (Pulitzer Prize). By the time White wrote this book, he was already a well-known and respected journalist. But the success of The Making of the President series is now what he is most remembered for. White's strength here is his innate ability to paint such vivid pictures of the personalities and locations involved. His chapters describing the Democratic Convention in Los Angeles, and then the first (critical) TV debate between John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon, are enthralling and detailed. Take, for example, his description (PP. 288-289) of Vice President Nixon: "The Vice-President, by contrast, was tense, almost frightened, at turns glowering and, occasionally, haggard-looking to the point of sickness." And this, from page 172: "History is always best written generations after the event, when cloud, fact and memory have all fused into what can be accepted as truth, whether it be so or not." That may be one of the most accurate lines I have ever read anywhere. This type of quality writing is hard to find now (think McCullough, Chernow, or Caro - these guys stand out because of their prodigious research, how well they tell a story, and their superior writing abilities). Yet, despite the wonderful writing, this book is flawed in several respects. First and most importantly, White is obviously enchanted by Kennedy. His coverage of the Kennedy side of the campaign is close to total worship: he writes on and on about the great "Kennedy machine" and the "brain trust" and how Kennedy always seemed to anticipate what was going to come next. While he does, from time to time, make mention of the Kennedy staffers' arrogance, he does not seem to see it as a fault; he views it more as a by-product of how successful they were. White does not talk about Kennedy's health problems stemming from Addison's disease (indeed, he frequently mentions Kennedy's physical actions like running across a lawn or bounding up steps). Nor does he ever go anywhere near the topic of Kennedy's womanizing. While this was a different time, and I have no doubt that these things were not widely known then, I have a difficult time believing that White - with all of his sources and private access - was ignorant of these two issues. Neglecting to report something like that now would not pass muster. Thus Kennedy is the main character in the book, and even when White is writing about the Republicans, I got the feeling that he couldn't wait to get to the next chapter to go back to writing about Kennedy. In fact, of the book's first 179 pages, only 19 are devoted to the Republicans. Also given short shrift are Hubert Humphrey (he appears in the early chapter about the Wisconsin and West Virginia primaries, then we never hear of him again) and Lyndon Johnson. In fact, White completely ignores Johnson after the Democratic Convention. Johnson played a crucial role for Kennedy in helping to secure his native Texas in the election, yet White never writes about what Johnson did or how he did it. I was hoping for more in this area. White includes (as he does in the other three books) a chapter about America at that time. While I understand why he did this, I quickly became bogged down in the endless statistics that White pours onto the pages. Fact and figure followed by many more figures get jumbled together. Additionally, White's final chapter is a rather dry one where he rambles on about what the presidency has now become. It didn't really seem to fit the book. Instead, I would have preferred to have seen a concluding chapter about the transition from Dwight Eisenhower to Kennedy. White never mentioned that at all. A glaring omission. Finally, his treatment of Nixon left me wishing for a lot more. As I mentioned previously, the book focused much more on Kennedy, and this is at Nixon's expense more than anyone else. He may have had good reason for this: his footnote on pp. 299-300 eerily foreshadows Nixon's behavior in the White House later on; he talks of Nixon deliberately being inaccessible and unwilling to meet with him or any member of the press privately. In fact, he writes that Nixon viewed the press as a collective enemy and that early on he had decided to ignore them all and treat them with disdain. So, given that, it is probably not surprising that Nixon gets short-shrift here; Nixon caused that himself. One final, telling comment by White about Nixon: on page 317, one of Nixon's inner circle (who themselves were often cut off from the candidate) said "Dick didn't lose this election. Dick blew this election." Grade: C+

  8. 4 out of 5

    Chris D.

    Theodore White made a name for himself writing a series of books detailing the race for the Presidency in the 1960's and 1970's. This work is the first in the series. I found it extremely interesting not only showing how the race developed but giving insight on the two major candidates, John Kennedy and Richard Nixon, and showing us the reader long in the future some of the personality characteristics that shaped their character. We see Kennedy before Camelot when he was just a well know senator Theodore White made a name for himself writing a series of books detailing the race for the Presidency in the 1960's and 1970's. This work is the first in the series. I found it extremely interesting not only showing how the race developed but giving insight on the two major candidates, John Kennedy and Richard Nixon, and showing us the reader long in the future some of the personality characteristics that shaped their character. We see Kennedy before Camelot when he was just a well know senator from a well known family. Even though known we still see at the beginning of the campaign a man speaking in front of small crowds and searching for votes on street corners. We see Nixon a little bit paranoid and not taking advice from establishment advisors and seeing the world against him and his family. This is a contemporary political book so White does not know what a Kennedy administration would entail however I did enjoy the footnotes that showed how many of the individuals involved received government jobs after the victory. As Robert Dalleck states in a forward to the Book in 2008 White does engage in some hero worship of Kennedy as a candidate and especially of his team of advisers. The preparation that his team puts into the early primary states is especially interesting. This inside look into the 1960 campaign and election will be enjoyed by all who like delving into inside politics and exploring the era the book entails.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Harley

    The Making of The President 1960 earned the author, Theodore H. White, a Pulitzer Prize in 1962. In the book, White, a journalist, follows the candidates from the moment they made the decision to enter the race for the Presidency until Kennedy was elected. In the 1970’s I had White’s The Making of the President 1968, the third of 4 books in the series. I was impressed with book when I read so decided with being on the doorstep of the 1916 election that I would read the original book in the series The Making of The President 1960 earned the author, Theodore H. White, a Pulitzer Prize in 1962. In the book, White, a journalist, follows the candidates from the moment they made the decision to enter the race for the Presidency until Kennedy was elected. In the 1970’s I had White’s The Making of the President 1968, the third of 4 books in the series. I was impressed with book when I read so decided with being on the doorstep of the 1916 election that I would read the original book in the series. The Making of the President 1960 is as relevant and important today as it was in 1960. White has the reporter’s knack of capturing the detail that makes the story exciting even 55 years after the event. Many of the issues that he identifies in the 1960 campaign are still relevant today. He also has a strong sense of history and is able to put the events of the time in historical context. White touches on the fact that the peaceful transfer of power from one person to the next is unusual in the annals of history. White writes: “Heroes and philosophers, brave men and vile, have since Rome and Athens tried to make this manner of transfer of power work effectively; no people have succeeded at it better, or over a longer period of time, than the Americans.” The Democrats seeking the nomination of their party in 1960 included Senator Hubert Humphrey of Minnesota, Senator Stuart Symington of Missouri, Senator Lyndon B. Johnson of Texas, former Illinois governor Adlai Stevenson II and Senator John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts. The Republicans seeking the nomination of their party in 1960 were Governor Nelson Rockefeller of New York and Vice-President Richard M. Nixon. White is excellent at summing up a situation in a very simple image. After Humphrey had lost the primary in West Virginia that ended his campaign, White writes: “In the morning, when Humbert Humphrey woke, the Presidential image had evaporated. Outside the Ruffner Hotel his parked bus had overnight been given a ticket for illegal parking.” Lyndon Johnson, like some politicians today, was seen as being too close to the workings of Washington. Johnson’s weakness was that he believed that the Senate was America and that he was the Senate. In a very relevant passage, White writes: “Long service in Washington at the court of power decisions causes men to forget that power rises ultimately from beyond the Potomac.” Here is one of White’s descriptions of Kennedy: “He had mastered politics on so many different levels that no other contemporary American could match him. He had nursed ward politics with his mother’s milk; heard it from his grandfathers, politicians both, in boyhood; seen it practiced from his father’s embassy in London at the supreme level of world events in 1939, as war and peace hung in the balance.” White fills his book with telling details. He writes: “At almost any moment of afternoon and evening on the road, soup is the favorite Kennedy dish — almost any kind of soup: chicken soup, tomato soup, bean soup and his favorite New England clam chowder.” White reviews in detail the impact of the changing demographics on the politics of the time. Between 1950 and 1960, the population of the country grew by 18%. Forty-one million Americans were born during the period and 16 million died. Two-thirds of the growth had occurred in the suburbs. White also discusses immigration which statistically began being counted in 1819 as required by Congress. White writes, “in 1820 America held 9,638,000 people, of whom almost 20 per cent were Negroes; and the rest are considered to have been the parent ‘colonial stock’ of America — an overwhelmingly British stock, spiced lightly with adventurers from all northern Europe.” Over 40 million immigrants entered the country between 1820 and 1960. The Irish came first. Between 1847 and 1854, over one million Irish entered the country. Almost 900 thousand Germans came between 1850 and 1857 and they kept coming in waves. By 1960 people with German heritage had become the second largest component of the American population. The Scandinavians arrived in the late 1800s. In the early part of the 20th century, more than 3 million Italians arrived. White also writes about the issue of religion. He reminds us that many of the early settlers came to escape the religious wars of Europe. The memories of how they were punished in Europe for their religious beliefs led to the decision that government had no right to make inquiry into the faith of its citizens and that the state should not have any connection to religion. People were free to worship as they pleased without guidance from the government. I think every American would benefit from the reading and rereading of this book as we enter another election year. White is a great storyteller who helps us understand how politics work and how Presidents are elected to serve the people.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Bob

    This is THE classic campaign history of the Kennedy-Nixon contest of 1960 (the first presidential election I remember--I saw John Kennedy in a motorcade that passed through my hometown). While some things about presidential campaigns have changed, one thing that White portrays well is the grueling character of a national political campaign beginning with primaries through a November general election. If anything, it is even more grueling today. White comments how media organization would rotate This is THE classic campaign history of the Kennedy-Nixon contest of 1960 (the first presidential election I remember--I saw John Kennedy in a motorcade that passed through my hometown). While some things about presidential campaigns have changed, one thing that White portrays well is the grueling character of a national political campaign beginning with primaries through a November general election. If anything, it is even more grueling today. White comments how media organization would rotate reporters on and off of campaigns to give them rest--no such luxury for the candidates, who were utterly exhausted by Election Day. Along the way, White explores the contrasting styles of Nixon and Kennedy (secretive and alone versus thriving on and extended network of the best and brightest of family and Harvard connections). White sees that one of the critical decisions that may have determined the election was the decision of Nixon to campaign in all 50 states, even after being laid up with a knee injury, versus Kennedy's decision to focus on key, large electoral vote states, most of which he ended up carrying. And we see what a "near run thing" this election was--small voting differences in a few states and Nixon would have been president in 1960. White probably gives us one of the earliest versions of the process by which LBJ ended up Kennedy's running mate. He provides an extensive discussion of the TV debates and their role in the election. He explores the demographics of the vote and the opening this election signaled to the republicans to gain ground in the South. And he explores the issue of John Kennedy's Catholicism and how Kennedy addressed this (including a transcript of Kennedy's address to the Houston Ministerial Association). What stands out to me through all this is the analysis by White of the character of two men, how that shaped their campaigns, and I think, was significant for Kennedy's victory in the end. I know much has been written about this campaign since White wrote, but White, writing so close to the event, evokes the times and the feel of this campaign.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Porter Broyles

    This is one my favorite books to read. This book is about the 1960 Presidential Election, written in 1961 and winning the Pulitzer Prize in 1962. In other words, it was written before JFK became a martyr, LBJ’s Great Society, or many of the events that shape our understanding of the 60’s. This book is a peek into the past, and its winning the Pulitzfer ensures that this peek was authentic. What makes this book so interesting for me is that I enjoy reading about Presidential elections. I have read This is one my favorite books to read. This book is about the 1960 Presidential Election, written in 1961 and winning the Pulitzer Prize in 1962. In other words, it was written before JFK became a martyr, LBJ’s Great Society, or many of the events that shape our understanding of the 60’s. This book is a peek into the past, and its winning the Pulitzfer ensures that this peek was authentic. What makes this book so interesting for me is that I enjoy reading about Presidential elections. I have read biographies on Eisenhower, Nixon and Kennedy. I have read books written about this specific presidential election. I have read books on the Civil Rights movement during this period. I know how history views the election and the event that occurred. Reading White’s book was fascinating in part because of what White omitted from the campaign---most likely because it was either unknown at the time or unsubstantiated. The book is extremely well written. White has a gift for words and imagery. The book is so well written that I think anybody who picks up the book will learn something from it and enjoy it. That being said, I think those who are already familiar with the characters and events surrounding the 1960 election will enjoy it more.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Frank Stein

    I really wish I could recommend this book. First of all, it's everywhere lauded as a classic; the first real book on an American presidential campaign, the one every journalist from Joe McGinniss to Heilemann and Halperin tries to replicate. It also won the Pulitzer, though of course Joe Kennedy had strong-armed the committee into giving his son the prize just three years early, so I don't doubt that he would do the same for an adulatory book about him in 1961. And that's probably the largest pro I really wish I could recommend this book. First of all, it's everywhere lauded as a classic; the first real book on an American presidential campaign, the one every journalist from Joe McGinniss to Heilemann and Halperin tries to replicate. It also won the Pulitzer, though of course Joe Kennedy had strong-armed the committee into giving his son the prize just three years early, so I don't doubt that he would do the same for an adulatory book about him in 1961. And that's probably the largest problem with this book. Throughout Kennedy is lionized up as a preternatural genius and the consummate politician of the century. He can do no wrong. By contrast, Nixon and the Republicans are always craven, foolish, callow and a host of other unsavory adjectives. Yet White still attempts a pretense of false objectivity, even when describing Kennedy trying to "get his message" to the American people and the Republicans making a "final assault on the American mind." The sheer strain of reading White pretending to favor both sides against his inclinations is wearying. Not that there's no truth in his descriptions of the two campaigns. Kennedy's, under Kenneth O'Donnell and Lawrence O'Brien, was accompanied by a host of pollsters (Lou Harris), political bosses (Joseph Bailey of Connecticut) and Harvard intellectuals (Archibald Cox), who ran a powerful and tireless campaign, one where "O'Brien's Manual" of area commanders, volunteer leaders, and meticulous tasks for every level, became their Bible. Nixon's managers, on the other hand, concocted a weird theory of "pacing," that dictated their candidate create a "rhythm" of fast and slow weeks for his campaign. Nixon also demanded a 50 state tour, when most of these states were not necessary for his victory. This further hampered him after an infected knee required him to sit out two of the most frantic last weeks. The urge to catch up left him haggard and exhausted. Yet, despite all the intimations of inevitability that hung over Kennedy's efforts, he won by barely 100,000 votes: 1/10 of 1%. As White points out 7,000 votes in Illinois and 25,000 in Texas would have switched the result, and Mayor Daley in the first and Lyndon Johnson in the second were widely reputed to have pushed the limits of legitimacy in getting those votes. So the campaigns could not have been all that different in their results. What's remarkable too is how similar, I almost said identical, the two candidates platforms were: both fiercely anti-Communist and obsessed with foreign affairs, relatively unconcerned with domestic policy, and relative moderates on civil rights and economic programs. What's also surprising on reading this is how much of the 1960 campaign has already gone down in history: the first, for Nixon almost fatal, TV debate, with his running "Lazy Shave" makeup; the U-2 plane shot down over Russia in the midst of the conventions; Kennedy's call to MLK Jr. in his Birmingham jail. White's account adds little to these. The best parts of the book are his interviews with and descriptions of some of the forgotten lights of American politics in the 1950s, like Senator Stuart Symington of Minnesota or the ubiquitous Adlai Stevenson, and bigger ones like Nelson Rockefeller and Hubert Humphrey. But most of the book veers between sycophantic and excessively metaphysical. There are better campaign books out there.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Thomas D Sinex

    Looked forward to reading this for years and was so disappointed by the extremely biased tone and outlook of the author. Apparently a certain portion of the press was so blinded by their idolatry of JFK that nothing negative or even human could be written about him...

  14. 4 out of 5

    June

    Great book. No wonder it won a Pulitzer Prize. White outlines the unmitigated amount of effort, drive and ambition it took for JFK to become President of the US in 1960 and the years of planning required. White also describes the gruelling and exhausting nature of the campaign both physically and mentally for both candidates and their families and close supporters. (Kennedy ran against Richard Nixon and White spent months and months accompanying both candidates during the lead up to the election Great book. No wonder it won a Pulitzer Prize. White outlines the unmitigated amount of effort, drive and ambition it took for JFK to become President of the US in 1960 and the years of planning required. White also describes the gruelling and exhausting nature of the campaign both physically and mentally for both candidates and their families and close supporters. (Kennedy ran against Richard Nixon and White spent months and months accompanying both candidates during the lead up to the election in order to be able to write the book.) Reading some of the speeches JFK made at the time and the sentiments he expressed with such eloquence and charm almost makes you want to cry when you compare it to the 2016 US election campaign. White has passed away but there is a book entitled The Making of the President 2016 in the tradition of Theodore White by Roger Stone that I might try reading although Roger Stone is described as being a longtime political adviser and friend of Donald Trump, so maybe not, but then again it might be interesting….but I doubt that Stone tried as hard to be an impartial observer as White obviously did.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Dara Salley

    I made it all the way to Part II, but I gave up during White's (borderline offensive) dissection of American voting demographics. I think the 1960's were the apotheosis of white men in suits gathering in hotels to determine the fate of Americans. Soon after, counter cultural skepticism and increasingly assertive minority voices would start to chip away at their power structure. I don't regret the change. I made it all the way to Part II, but I gave up during White's (borderline offensive) dissection of American voting demographics. I think the 1960's were the apotheosis of white men in suits gathering in hotels to determine the fate of Americans. Soon after, counter cultural skepticism and increasingly assertive minority voices would start to chip away at their power structure. I don't regret the change.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Doreen Petersen

    Very informative book. I really liked it.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Buck Jones

    This is the classic, original political reporting of a Presidential campaign. What is telling about this book, is that in the era when it was written, political reporters didn't really do too much reporting on the private lives of the candidates. Also, Teddy White had a biased view of the Kennedy's - he was treated with an insider view of the campaign because he was essentially an insider, co-opted by the candidate early on. As a result, this reads a bit dull, although I learned a bit about some This is the classic, original political reporting of a Presidential campaign. What is telling about this book, is that in the era when it was written, political reporters didn't really do too much reporting on the private lives of the candidates. Also, Teddy White had a biased view of the Kennedy's - he was treated with an insider view of the campaign because he was essentially an insider, co-opted by the candidate early on. As a result, this reads a bit dull, although I learned a bit about some of the other contenders for the Democratic nomination, as well as some of the intrigue going into the Democratic convention in Los Angeles. But the reporting is blood-less, there is no real vibrancy or fire in the telling ... which is a shame, because this was an amazing election, full of treachery (Joe Kennedy and the bosses pulling all of the stops out to make sure that Illinois squeaked into the Kennedy column come election night, for example; or LBJ's shenanigans to assure that Texas squeaked into victory as well ... non of that is told). But it is a classic, and spawned the genre that we have today.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Richard

    This book was apparently fascinating when it was written in 1961, and is still fascinating now, but for somewhat different reasons. It's like opening a time capsule regarding the 1960 election and seeing how things have changed in so many ways. One example: Hubert Humphrey was the first candidate to enter the race, and he didn't do so until as late as December 30, 1959! Today, anyone waiting until just over ten months before Election Day would be hopelessly far behind. This book was apparently fascinating when it was written in 1961, and is still fascinating now, but for somewhat different reasons. It's like opening a time capsule regarding the 1960 election and seeing how things have changed in so many ways. One example: Hubert Humphrey was the first candidate to enter the race, and he didn't do so until as late as December 30, 1959! Today, anyone waiting until just over ten months before Election Day would be hopelessly far behind.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Paul Gaya Ochieng Simeon Juma

    Yes, am also wondering why I read this book? I love politics of all manner and form. So when I picked this novel, I was immediately gripped and had to read it as soon as possible. It is not my first novel about election campaign. However, it is my first read about JFK. I have heard so much about this president. Of course, I know that he was the first catholic president of the US and probably the youngest head of state. I know that he presided over the bay of pigs termed after the embarrassing de Yes, am also wondering why I read this book? I love politics of all manner and form. So when I picked this novel, I was immediately gripped and had to read it as soon as possible. It is not my first novel about election campaign. However, it is my first read about JFK. I have heard so much about this president. Of course, I know that he was the first catholic president of the US and probably the youngest head of state. I know that he presided over the bay of pigs termed after the embarrassing defeat suffered by America after its attempt to oust Fidel Castro from power. I know that shortly thereafter he was assassinated. John F. Kennedy (JFK) was a democrat who became president in 1960 following his victory against Richard M. Nixon. He supported the civil rights movement by championing for the Negro vote. He was a catholic, a fact that nearly cost him his election. He was considered young and naive at a time when America was struggling to remain relevant in the world. Khrushev was the leader of the Soviet regime and was threatening word domination through communism. The cold war was at ts peak. The integration of East and West Germany was also a hot issue at the time. Calls for a strong defense system, voter rights, and strong economy were some of the issue in America at the time. Kennedy and Nixon were the center of it all with both sides working hard to sell its ideologies to the people of America. This book takes us through the primaries which let to the nominations of both Kennedy and Nixon. It gives us a glimpse of their strategies and organisation of the campaign. Kennedy was scouting for the Farmers and Protestant votes while Nixon for the Farmers and Catholic votes. The Southern States were also very crucial and both candidates were measuring their words when it came to the issue of the Negro vote. We get to see how JFK overcame these challenges and rose to be the President of the US. A very good book.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Audrey

    3 1/2. Lots of information about the 1959 presidential race, but more often than not I struggled to pay attention. There are a lot of passages I need to go back and highlight, though. It was kind of ominous to read in 2021, knowing now that the respect shown to both sides of the political fence both to candidates and voters is a foreign concept today. Worth the read!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Andy

    I really enjoyed how White creates such tension and emotion at the start of this book. The details on how Kennedy reacted and how he was pre-president was quite interesting to read. The book does slog at the end which is a shame, but overall it is a decent account on the tension of American politics and the election.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Mrs. Danvers

    What a remarkable read! So much of the nonfiction I read is written with the perspective of later events, but this book was published in 1961, the same year that Kennedy was inaugurated. In some ways, then, tragedy is always foreshadowed, but the freshness and optimism of White is palpable.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Robert

    This book is an absolute masterpiece. It’s hard to tell if White was so prescient about this race because how we understand it was influenced by his writing or he truly understood the movements impacting politics in the 1960 election. It’s incredibly unsettling to read this book knowing what White does not. His discussions of the Nixon campaign’s slow gains in the South and lack of clarity on racial issues clearly show us, the modern reader, the genesis of his successful races in 1968 and 1972. This book is an absolute masterpiece. It’s hard to tell if White was so prescient about this race because how we understand it was influenced by his writing or he truly understood the movements impacting politics in the 1960 election. It’s incredibly unsettling to read this book knowing what White does not. His discussions of the Nixon campaign’s slow gains in the South and lack of clarity on racial issues clearly show us, the modern reader, the genesis of his successful races in 1968 and 1972. In another way, his offhanded comment on how now-President Kennedy handles an incursion in Laos will be forgotten or a stain is eerie knowing that these small flare ups in Southeast Asia will become a conflagration that scars a generation This book is still a must read for anyone interested in politics. I just wish some of our modern politics were as straightforward as what he describes here.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jason

    This is the seminal work on the Nixon-Kennedy campaign of 1960. White won the pullitzer prize and went on to create a cottage industry of campaign analysis books. Its interesting to note, that this is the first of these kinds of books. While there have been lots of 3rd party campaign analysis books written since (and a couple about the 1960 election), this niche of prose was pretty empty until this book. The interesting thing about the work is that it is written in a third-person, narrative styl This is the seminal work on the Nixon-Kennedy campaign of 1960. White won the pullitzer prize and went on to create a cottage industry of campaign analysis books. Its interesting to note, that this is the first of these kinds of books. While there have been lots of 3rd party campaign analysis books written since (and a couple about the 1960 election), this niche of prose was pretty empty until this book. The interesting thing about the work is that it is written in a third-person, narrative style -- mostly. But then, White is a reporter for Harpers. He really is involved in little conversations that move him from an chronicler of history to a participant. In that sense, its a bit like reading Churchill's history of the Second World War. White also provides us what has become the iconic sense of these two men in this campaign. Kennedy: young, smart, ambitious, confident and charming. You can almost sense the author, as a reporter, gravitating to Kennedy. On the other hand you have Nixon: sullen, secretive, envious and disparing. The amazing thing is that White did not know how spot on he nailed it. We would see these two personalities play out through the 60s and the stereotypes he describes, continue echo beyond the campaign. The other amazing bit about this work is how he sees the shifts in the electorate. He anticipates the Republican's Southern strategy in light of Eisenhower's popularity, and Nixon's nascent strength during the 1960 campaign. He also speculates about the future of black America. Here he gets it wrong. He assumes that surging incarceration rates of African Americans in the North is similar to similar patters by earlier immigrant groups in the North -- Italians and Irish for instance. Sadly, this evolving pattern reflected something new, much more permanent But, none of that was yet understood in 1960. His analysis of the American electorate of 1960 is particularly fascinating. The ethnic makeup of the white vote makes an interesting read. Today, its seems to be viewed much more monolithically. In any case, if you have any interest in Kennedy, Nixon, elections or politically history, this is a book to read.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Richard

    Who says homework isn't fun? This book was required reading for a Political Science course I took in college, when the events recounted in it were only a few years old. Theodore White succeeded in writing the definitive account of the 1960 Presidential campaign as well as establishing a whole genre of political campaign reporting with this book. He had been given complete authorization to travel and report on the doings of the two ex-Navy World War II officers who were first elected to Congress Who says homework isn't fun? This book was required reading for a Political Science course I took in college, when the events recounted in it were only a few years old. Theodore White succeeded in writing the definitive account of the 1960 Presidential campaign as well as establishing a whole genre of political campaign reporting with this book. He had been given complete authorization to travel and report on the doings of the two ex-Navy World War II officers who were first elected to Congress in 1946 and became the Democratic and Republican candidates. Today, books are published every four years by journalists who travel everywhere with Presidential candidates and their staffs while learning political strategies and experiencing daily wins and defeats; all of them can trace their lineage to "The Making of the President 1960". The public had not previously experienced the sort of campaign revelation which this book offered. White capitalized upon its success with similar books in succeeding Presidential campaign years, but the "…President 1960" somehow remains the classic. Perhaps this continuing interest can be traced to the public's never-ending fascination with John F. Kennedy; even White seems to have favored Kennedy over Richard Nixon in his reporting of the campaign. He coincidentally was a classmate of Joseph P. Kennedy Jr., Harvard Class of 1938; Joe, of course, was the Kennedy sibling who was originally groomed by their father to be a future President of the United States. This admiration does not diminish the impact of this book as a masterful contemporary window into the events of a time which has been romanticized as one of America's golden ages. White helped to perpetuate this myth when he described the thousand day Kennedy Presidency as Camelot, in deference to his friend Jackie Kennedy's favorite Broadway show. The ancient kingdom living in "one brief shining moment" as contained in Alan Jay Lerner's lyrics was not replicated in the 1961 to 1963 United States but Theodore White's "The Making of the President 1960" provides a more accurate description of the times than a dozen assassination conspiracy theory books.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Doug

    I read this book some 12 years ago and count it as my all time favorite non-fiction book. Because 2008 has already shaped up to be the most exciting Presidential race in a century, I plan to dust off this classic and read it again. I read this book in high school and loved Theodore H. White's tough-guy/salty journalist take on the great figures of his day. Some of his descriptions of John and Bobby Kennedy, Richard Nixon, and the Kennedy Brain Trust are still vivid in my mind. Some of the wisdom I I read this book some 12 years ago and count it as my all time favorite non-fiction book. Because 2008 has already shaped up to be the most exciting Presidential race in a century, I plan to dust off this classic and read it again. I read this book in high school and loved Theodore H. White's tough-guy/salty journalist take on the great figures of his day. Some of his descriptions of John and Bobby Kennedy, Richard Nixon, and the Kennedy Brain Trust are still vivid in my mind. Some of the wisdom I remember (hopefully with some accuracy): -If you have huge crowds showing up to see you, it does not mean you are going to win. But if no one shows up, it does mean you are going to lose. (I would like to add, where local campaigns are concerned, that goes for yard signs too!) -Bobby Kennedy said when they got home from World War II the young veterans shook up the political world and the political parties because they knew how to get things done. He said that the old guys just didn't know how to quickly get things done, but the young guys had learned how during the war. -Dick Nixon liked John Kennedy but Kennedy didn't like Nixon. Kennedy had an amazing rapport with the reporters (like McCain today) and they all loved to than out with Kennedy, who was like the "cool guy." It has been a decade since I read this book, but it changed the way I view people and describe them. I think physical descriptions are in important part of people's personality--something that White captures. This book is also important in understanding how we got to the primary system of today.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Robert

    Wow. What a gripping history of a presidential campaign, and of an era. The book was written in 1961, when the Kennedy vs. Nixon election was still very recent memory. It was written by a political reporter who covered both campaigns. Because of this, you get a lot of behind-the-scenes explanation of strategy, of the personalities involved, and of the U.S. as a whole at the end of the 1950s. Eisenhower was just wrapping up 8 popular years as President. Dick Nixon (the Vice President) was considered Wow. What a gripping history of a presidential campaign, and of an era. The book was written in 1961, when the Kennedy vs. Nixon election was still very recent memory. It was written by a political reporter who covered both campaigns. Because of this, you get a lot of behind-the-scenes explanation of strategy, of the personalities involved, and of the U.S. as a whole at the end of the 1950s. Eisenhower was just wrapping up 8 popular years as President. Dick Nixon (the Vice President) was considered the front-runner to replace him. The country was prosperous but worried about the Soviet Union and the future. Demographics were changing, the makeup of the country was changing, and nobody was certain if a Catholic could even be elected. The thing I enjoyed most, I think, is that the book was written before a lot of really important events. President Kennedy hadn't been assassinated. Richard Nixon had never been president, nor had he resigned in disgrace. As a result, the events are very much in-the-moment, and you get to know the candidates as they seemed during the election. Nixon seems a bit distrustful of people (hoo-boy!), but generally comes across as a good guy who's able to connect with small-town America. Kennedy is charming and brilliant and has an amazing knowledge of people, places, and politics. I'm looking forward to the other 3 books in the series.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Ben

    The original "Game Change", almost a half century before the colorful McCain/Palin/Obama/Clinton campaign. This book is a must for political junkies. Like 2008's Game Change, this book was written shortly after the 1960 election and includes extensive insights from embedded journalists. You step into the inner campaign sanctums of JFK and Nixon, journey with them around the country, watch the strategies unfold, hear the strain in their weary voices, and wait on tenterhooks for each electoral vot The original "Game Change", almost a half century before the colorful McCain/Palin/Obama/Clinton campaign. This book is a must for political junkies. Like 2008's Game Change, this book was written shortly after the 1960 election and includes extensive insights from embedded journalists. You step into the inner campaign sanctums of JFK and Nixon, journey with them around the country, watch the strategies unfold, hear the strain in their weary voices, and wait on tenterhooks for each electoral vote to come in. Also, White puts the election in its proper context. It wasn't just about JFK vs. Nixon. It was about the changing demographics of the country, the changing ways people voted and the reasons why. It was about a half dozen other viable candidates who have been largely forgotten by history - the liberal lion Hubert Humphrey, the professorial Stuart Symington, the perennial also-ran Adlai Stevenson, the hawk who bucked his own party Nelson Rockefeller. I was just as fascinated about their stories as the main two candidates, moreso, because they were fresh and unfamiliar.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Hasan

    I decided to read this book because of it's very high average review rating. I thought it would be the equivalent of Halperin and Heilemann's Game Change, that would it be fast moving and would cover a lot of ground. I was wrong on all counts. It was full of needless information and description, barely moved at all and didn't provide me with a whole lot of new information. A 200 page book would've been a lot more interesting. I decided to read this book because of it's very high average review rating. I thought it would be the equivalent of Halperin and Heilemann's Game Change, that would it be fast moving and would cover a lot of ground. I was wrong on all counts. It was full of needless information and description, barely moved at all and didn't provide me with a whole lot of new information. A 200 page book would've been a lot more interesting.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Kid

    interesting subject matter, but ultimately unreadable. At times painful to plough through another 10 pages of names and their duties.

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