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Book cover of 1960-LBJ vs. JFK vs. Nixon: The Epic Campaign That Forged Three Presidencies

1960-LBJ vs. JFK vs. Nixon: The Epic Campaign That Forged Three Presidencies

by David Pietrusza

Publisher: Union Square Press
Pages: 544
Hardcover
ISBN: 9781402761140






Available to Buy

Overview of 1960-LBJ vs. JFK vs. Nixon: The Epic Campaign That Forged Three Presidencies

It was the election that would ultimately give America "Camelot” and its tragic aftermath, a momentous contest when three giants who each would have a chance to shape the nation battled to win the presidency.

Award-winning author David Pietrusza does here for the 1960 presidential race what he did in his previous book, 1920: the Year of the Six Presidents—which Kirkus Reviews selected as one of their Best Books of 2007. Until now, the most authoritative study of the 1960 election was Theodore White’s Pulitzer Prize-winning The Making of the President, 1960. But White, as a trusted insider, didn’t tell all. Here’s the rest of the story, what White could never have known, nor revealed. Finally, it’s all out—including JFK’s poignant comment on why LBJ’s nomination as vice president would be inconsequential: "I’m 43 years old. I’m not going to die in office.”

Combining an engaging narrative with exhaustive research, Pietrusza chronicles the pivotal election of 1960, in which issues of civil rights and religion (Kennedy was only the second major-party Roman Catholic candidate ever) converged. The volatile primary clash between Senate Majority leader LBJ and the young JFK culminated in an improbable fusion ticket. The historic, legendary Kennedy-Nixon debates followed in its wake. The first presidential televised debates, they forever altered American politics when an exhausted Nixon was unkempt and tentative in their first showdown. With 80 million viewers passing judgment, Nixon’s poll numbers dropped as the charismatic Kennedy’s star rose. Nixon learned his lesson—resting before subsequent debates, reluctantly wearing makeup, and challenging JFK with a more aggressive stance—but the damage was done.

There’s no one better to convey the drama of that tumultuous year than Pietrusza. He has 1,000 secrets to spill; a fascinating cast of characters to introduce (including a rogue’s gallery of hangers-on and manipulators); and towering historical events to chronicle. And all of it is built on painstaking research and solid historical scholarship. Pietrusza tracks down every lead to create a winning, engaging, and very readable account.

With the 2008 elections approaching, politics will be on everyone’s mind, and 1960: LBJ vs. JFK vs. Nixon will transform the way readers see modern American history.

 

 

A sampling of what Theodore White couldn’t chronicle—and David Pietrusza does:

·     Richard Nixon’s tempestuous Iowa backseat blowup, and his  bizarre Election Day road trip

·     The full story of a sympathetic call from JFK to Coretta Scott King

·      John Ehrlichman’s spy missions on the Nelson Rockefeller and Democratic    camps

·      The warnings before Election Day that Chicago’s mayor Daley would try to fix the race’s outcome

·       JFK’s amphetamine-fueled debate performance

Synopsis of 1960-LBJ vs. JFK vs. Nixon: The Epic Campaign That Forged Three Presidencies

It was the election that would ultimately give America “Camelot” and its tragic aftermath, a momentous contest when three giants who each would have a chance to shape the nation battled to win the presidency.
Award-winning author David Pietrusza does here for the 1960 presidential race what he did in his previous book, 1920: the Year of the Six Presidents—which Kirkus Reviews selected as one of their Best Books of 2007. Until now, the most authoritative study of the 1960 election was Theodore White’s Pulitzer Prize-winning The Making of the President, 1960. But White, as a trusted insider, didn’t tell all. Here’s the rest of the story, what White could never have known, nor revealed. Finally, it’s all out—including JFK’s poignant comment on why LBJ’s nomination as vice president would be inconsequential: “I’m 43 years old. I’m not going to die in office.”
Combining an engaging narrative with exhaustive research, Pietrusza chronicles the pivotal election of 1960, in which issues of civil rights and religion (Kennedy was only the second major-party Roman Catholic candidate ever) converged. The volatile primary clash between Senate Majority leader LBJ and the young JFK culminated in an improbable fusion ticket. The historic, legendary Kennedy-Nixon debates followed in its wake. The first presidential televised debates, they forever altered American politics when an exhausted Nixon was unkempt and tentative in their first showdown. With 80 million viewers passing judgment, Nixon’s poll numbers dropped as the charismatic Kennedy’s star rose. Nixon learned his lesson—resting before subsequent debates, reluctantly wearing makeup, and challenging JFK with a more aggressive stance—but the damage was done.
There’s no one better to convey the drama of that tumultuous year than Pietrusza. He has 1,000 secrets to spill; a fascinating cast of characters to introduce (including a rogue’s gallery of hangers-on and manipulators); and towering historical events to chronicle. And all of it is built on painstaking research and solid historical scholarship. Pietrusza tracks down every lead to create a winning, engaging, and very readable account.
With the 2008 elections approaching, politics will be on everyone’s mind, and 1960: LBJ vs. JFK vs. Nixon will transform the way readers see modern American history.

A sampling of what Theodore White couldn’t chronicle—and David Pietrusza does:

· Richard Nixon’s tempestuous Iowa backseat blowup, and his bizarre Election Day road trip

· The full story of a sympathetic call from JFK to Coretta Scott King

· John Ehrlichman’s spy missions on the Nelson Rockefeller and Democratic camps

· The warnings before Election Day that Chicago’s mayor Daley would try to fix the race’s outcome

· JFK’s amphetamine-fueled debate performance

Karl Helicher - Library Journal

Almost half a century after Theodore White's The Making of the President, 1960, Pietrusza (1920: The Year of the Six Presidents) raises the bar with his winning and provocative chronicle. The political giants who battled for the 1960 presidency-and the closeness of the election-make for exciting narratives. The author writes respectfully of the three hopefuls but is not starstruck by any of them. Here, JFK is portrayed at times as a slacker who would not let politics get in the way of adultery. Richard Nixon was different from Kennedy, much less by his politics than by his lack of charm. Johnson, the indefatigable vote getter, was a champion of the lower class or a crude wheeler-dealer, depending on what the situation called for. Also prominently featured are Joe Kennedy, the family patriarch, and presidential and vice presidential hopefuls Nelson Rockefeller, Hubert Humphrey, and Adlai Stevenson. Pietrusza concludes with a thought worth pondering: Why was the election so close when Nixon did so much wrong (ignoring Martin Luther King Jr., choosing the patrician Henry Cabot Lodge as his running mate, not receiving support from President Eisenhower) while Kennedy did almost everything right (choosing the loyal LBJ as his vice-presidential running mate, winning the primaries, appearing healthy, gaining the black vote while retaining the white South)? The answer: there was something about JFK that the voters of 1960 simply did not like. Highly recommended for public and academic libraries.

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Editorials

Library Journal

Almost half a century after Theodore White's The Making of the President, 1960, Pietrusza (1920: The Year of the Six Presidents) raises the bar with his winning and provocative chronicle. The political giants who battled for the 1960 presidency-and the closeness of the election-make for exciting narratives. The author writes respectfully of the three hopefuls but is not starstruck by any of them. Here, JFK is portrayed at times as a slacker who would not let politics get in the way of adultery. Richard Nixon was different from Kennedy, much less by his politics than by his lack of charm. Johnson, the indefatigable vote getter, was a champion of the lower class or a crude wheeler-dealer, depending on what the situation called for. Also prominently featured are Joe Kennedy, the family patriarch, and presidential and vice presidential hopefuls Nelson Rockefeller, Hubert Humphrey, and Adlai Stevenson. Pietrusza concludes with a thought worth pondering: Why was the election so close when Nixon did so much wrong (ignoring Martin Luther King Jr., choosing the patrician Henry Cabot Lodge as his running mate, not receiving support from President Eisenhower) while Kennedy did almost everything right (choosing the loyal LBJ as his vice-presidential running mate, winning the primaries, appearing healthy, gaining the black vote while retaining the white South)? The answer: there was something about JFK that the voters of 1960 simply did not like. Highly recommended for public and academic libraries.
—Karl Helicher

Kirkus Reviews

A historian revisits the exciting, close-run 1960 campaign. In what's becoming something of a specialty, Pietrusza (1920: The Year of the Six Presidents, 2007, etc.) turns again to a presidential race that included two men in walk-on roles who would later hold the office, Ford and Reagan, and featured three who would occupy the Oval Office for the next 14 years. Since Theodore White's 1961 classic The Making of the President, 1960, we've learned more about John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Lyndon Baines Johnson and Richard Milhous Nixon, much of it unflattering, and almost all of it reflected in this colorful, character-driven narrative. Pietrusza examines the candidates' manifold personal shortcomings, flaws either unseen or at least unspoken by White, including JFK's dangerous philandering and even more dangerous health, LBJ's curious blend of bullying cowardice and vanity, and Nixon's deep resentments and insecurities. In a race where the candidates were all children of the New Deal and all confirmed cold warriors, personalities dominated, and the finally mature technology of television brought those personalities into the country's living rooms. Pietrusza is especially strong covering the crucial Kennedy-Nixon TV debates and, while he pauses to consider other incidents upon which the vote may have turned, he remains focused on character. He also looks at the hapless Hubert Humphrey, outspent in the critical West Virginia primary, Nelson Rockefeller, outmaneuvered by Nixon, and Adlai Stevenson and Stuart Symington, both outhustled by Kennedy. Among many others, Pietrusza's cast includes Eleanor Roosevelt and Martin Luther King Sr., both wary of Kennedy's Catholicism; Dwight Eisenhower, foreverholding Nixon at arms length; Frank Sinatra, virtually pimping for JFK; Sam Giancana and Richard J. Daley, mobster and mayor of Chicago respectively, funneling money and votes to Kennedy; and Joseph P. Kennedy, the mastermind and bank behind his son's bid for the White House. A lively look at the underside of a campaign foreshadowing three successive presidencies that would end in assassination, failure and disgrace. Agent: Carol Mann/Carol Mann Agency

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