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

4.4 7
by David Pietrusza

ISBN-10: 1402761147

ISBN-13: 9781402761140

Pub. Date: 09/02/2008

Publisher: Sterling Publishing

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


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

Product Details

Sterling Publishing
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.40(w) x 9.40(h) x 1.80(d)

Table of Contents

Cast of Characters     x
January     1
"My son will be President in 1960"     2
"Independent as a hog on ice"     19
"You're my boy"     33
"Kicked in the head by a horse"     53
"When Bobby hates you, you stay hated"     61
"I am not a candidate for the vice presidency of anything"     66
"An independent merchant competing against a chain store"     77
"The rich man's Harold Stassen"     95
"Committing a sin against God"     109
"A little black bag and a checkbook"     121
"All the eggheads are for Stevenson"     131
"They were a dime a dozen"     145
"A clean bill of health"     157
"First blood for Kennedy"     170
"We had to win on the first ballot"     177
"Too shallow a puddle"     190
"I'm not going to die in office"     194
"He is not a big man"     207
"A two-fisted, four square liar"     213
"The man who will succeed Dwight D. Eisenhower... Richard E. Nixon"     221
"Why do you think they did that, Sammy?"     233
"Nothing takes precedence over his oath to uphold the Constitution"     245
"Matt Dillon ain't popular fornothing"     259
"Nixon did everything but sweep out the plane"     268
"I seen him, I seen him"     282
"You bombthrowers probably lost the election"     291
"The most dangerous man in America"     299
"No one could tell him anything"     307
"He felt cool, calm, and very alert"     320
"They've embalmed him before he even died"     335
"The bones of a single American soldier"     349
"Senator Kennedy is in clear violation of the spirit of the law"     366
"They know not what they do"     381
"I'm just out for a little ride"     391
"The help of a few close friends"     400
"Dies irae"     411
Notes     419
Bibliography     494
Acknowledgments     509
Index     510
About the Author     523

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4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
jbdunlap14 More than 1 year ago
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.
The_Judge More than 1 year ago
Following up on his superb "1920: The Year of the Six Presidents", author David Pietrusza produces another political page-turner, this time dealing with the characters and machinations of a presidential race which marked the beginning of the modern era of campaigning.

Another reviewer complains there is nothing new here (I suppose if you've read 200 books on the Kennedy assassination you might very well feel overly familiar with the material!). Even if true (it's not), the story has never been better or more completely told.

Pietrusza comes into this with no particular hero and no pony in the race, a fact which makes his analyses far more objective than most any review of the topic. He shows his characters warts and all, while at the same time not descending to the level of a hit piece on any of them. They are what they are: Johnson, Kennedy, Nixon, Humphrey, Stevenson, Eleanor Roosevelt and scores of extras.

While interesting and engaging throughout, where Pietrusza really shines is in his analysis of the strategy and tactics of the four debates that nudged the election to Kennedy and changed modern politics forever.

The release of this book is perfect timing, especially for those who think the art of campaigning was invented yesterday. Pietrusza adds to his ever-more-outstanding body of work and has placed himself in the first tier of writers of popular history. Well done.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Lyle_Newkirk More than 1 year ago
Until now, Theodore White's Making of the President 1960 was the standard for understanding the very important election of 1960. 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.
MovieandMusicManiac More than 1 year ago
David Pietruszahas written a fascinating and hard to put down book.

I highly recommend.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago