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Posted December 17, 2009
A Fresh (and balanced) Look Into a Famous Campaign
When I read the reviews of 1960-LBJ vs. JFK vs. Nixon, I found it interesting how many different views there were of this book on whether the book was balanced, or like most books, tilted towards Kennedy. It is tough to find any balance when it comes to comparing John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon. I would have likely been a Nixon voter, had I been alive in 1960, but I must say that David Pietrusza has done a very good job telling the story of the 1960 election in a more even handed fashion than occured in the past.
Pietrusza makes is clear that the far "dirtier tricks" of the 1960 election came from the Kennedy, and not Nixon campaign. He also points out the media bias and love affair with the Democratic nominee. His conclusion goes so far to say that despite all that Kennedy did right and the Democratic advantage in the nation at the time, and all Nixon did wrong, Kennedy barely won. His answer, Americans were not sold on John F. Kennedy, there was something about the Democrat that Americans just did not like.
I learned things in the book that the mainstream press and history do not teach us, such as that Nixon won two, if not three of the so-called "great" debates. Or also, that former President Truman and former First Lady Eleanor Roosevlt not only supported other candidates for the Democratic Nomination, but strongly opposed Kennedy's nomination up until the Democratic Convention.
The author does a great job at focusing on the candidates while giving great insight on to the views and comings and goings of the side players, such as President Dwight Eisenhower, former President Harry Truman, and Eleanor Roosevelt.
I would have been more interested to learn more about the role that Kennedy's religion played in the election, but all in all, this book does a very good job of re-telling the story of the 1960 election, not in the Camelot driven pro-Kennedy way of Theodore White's, The Making of the President, 1960, but in a more-even handed manner.
Don't get me wrong, Richard Nixon does not come across as a saint. In fact, if anything, he comes across as a bizarre person and his election strategy is cast in great doubt, but likely that was just who Nixon was.
I did not care for the author's last book, 1920, The Year of Six Presdints, but really enjoyed 1960: LBJ vs. JFK vs. Nixon. I enjoyed it to the point where you feel suspense building, even though we know the outcome.
All in all, a very good and balanced book.
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Posted August 12, 2009
New Standard for 1960 Election
Until now, Theodore White's Making of the President 1960 was the standard for understanding the very important election of 1960.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
David Pietrusza's 1960 has just replaced the White classic. 1960 has the benefit of data that was not available when White wrote his book. 1960 is also not obviously biased toward JFK as it covers his strengths as well as some of his many weaknesses.
The book is full of information told in a way that it treats the election as a great story with insight into three presidents as well as other important politicians of that day (Rockefeller, Humphrey, Eisenhower, Stevenson, RFK, etc).
The story is told in a way that one gets the true feel of what life was like back in 1960.
Pietrusza also wrote a wonderful book about the election of 1920, known as 1920 - The Year of Six Presidents. I recommend both 1920 and 1960 for the student of 20th century American history.
Posted February 18, 2009
Posted January 10, 2009