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Lunch » Tags » Books » Reviews » 1960--LBJ vs. JFK vs. Nixon: The Epic Campaign That Forged Three Presidencies » User review

1960: LBJ vs JFK vs NIXON

  • Jul 9, 2010
I didn't find 1960 by David Pietrusza in the Lunch's repertoire, but I am reviewing it because, if anyone out there likes modern politics, this is an excellent read.  I gave it a "2" ranking only because it bogs down a bit on LBJ (as did Master of the Senate by Caro, but that's another review). 

1960 is subtitled, "The Epic Campaign That Forged Three Presidencies," and that's it in a nutshell. It goes from a gleam in the candidates' eyes through the debates, to the November election, and finally to the eventual outcome of each candidate:  JFK's assassination; LBJ's downfall at the hands of the Vietnam War; and Nixon's downfall courtesy of his thoroughly bungling the Watergate problem.

The last chapter is a denouement covering related persons and events through 1972, Nixon's last hurrah. It covers Adlai Stevenson, whom many Democrats thought should have been the Democratic candidate again in 1960; Bobby Kennedy's 1968 running and assassination; Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination in 1968, which greatly influenced the election that year;  Hubert Humphrey, who got the nod in '68 despite the Chicago convention riots and despite the party's being in upheaval; Nelson Rockefeller, whom many thought had a chance, but who didn't know how to run a campaign; and Ted Kennedy, whose chances of being president drowned at Chappaquiddick.

Though many readers will remember the 1960 election, you have to admit that there is a lot you don't recall. This will jog your memory.

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July 09, 2010
Thanks so much for sharing this on Lunch, Barkalow!  I may not have been around during these incidents, but I've sure read a lot about them and have great interest in them.  By the way, something tells me that you'd really like the Public Policy community on Lunch :)
July 17, 2010
Thanks for the feedback. I may like public Policy, but I actually have trouble speaking to groups, or within groups. What is th setup and venue for Public Policy?
About the reviewer
Barkalow ()
Ranked #1300
Not gregarious in crowds.   Dry humor.   Like unsweetened iced tea. (and it's "iced," not "ice")   Love John Sandford's books.   Love … more
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About this book


The 1960 presidential campaign season was dominated by the personalities of three men, each of whom became president. Award-winning author Pietrusza chronicles their roles and character in a stirring, hard-edged political saga. This is no insider account; Pietrusza is not beholden to any of the three candidates, and they are not portrayed sympathetically. Johnson, the product of a hardscrabble existence, is viewed as domineering, obnoxious, and ruthless; yet he was the only true FDR-style liberal of the three, and his concern for the disadvantaged was genuine. Kennedy, in contrast, was laid-back, viewed as lazy or uninteresting by his senatorial colleagues, and seemed to lack any distinct political principles. Nixon was brilliant, suspicious, and prone to self-pity, but he probably had the best mastery of the issues. This is a wide-ranging panorama that includes a vast cast of characters, many of whom seem more appealing than the main protagonists. Included are such notables as the eloquent but arrogant Eugene McCarthy, a passionate and compassionate but seemingly overwhelmed Hubert Humphrey, and a sharply skeptical Martin Luther King Jr. An outstanding reexamination. --Jay Freeman
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ISBN-10: 1402761147
ISBN-13: 978-1402761140
Author: David Pietrusza
Publisher: Union Square Press

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