1968: The Election That Changed America / Edition 1

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The race for the White House in 1968 was a watershed event in American politics. In this compact and evenhanded narrative analysis, Lewis L. Gould shows how the events of 1968 changed the way Americans felt about politics and their leaders; how Republicans used the skills they brought to Richard Nixon's campaign to create a generation-long ascendancy in presidential politics; how Democrats, divided and torn after 1968, emerged as only crippled challengers for the White House throughout the 1970s and 1980s. Bitterness over racial issues and the Vietnam War that marked the 1968 election continued to shape national affairs. The election, Mr. Gould observes, accelerated an erosion of confidence in American institutions that has not yet reached a conclusion. In this lucid account he considers the phenomena of Eugene McCarthy and Robert Kennedy, the campaigns of Nixon, Hubert Humphrey, and George Wallace, and the extraordinary events of what McCarthy later called the "Hard Year."

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Editorial Reviews

The Historian
Fast-paced and controversial . . . keeps 1968 fresh in the memory of historians.
Political Studies
A masterful and succinct account.
— Kent G. Seig
Journal Of Southern History
Engagingly written . . . a classic account.
The Trenton Times
Gould gives a blow-by-blow, month-by-month account of the year in this smart and fresh narrative.
— Harry Sayen
The Journal of Southern History
Engagingly written . . . a classic account.
Political Studies Review
A masterful and succinct account.
— Kent G. Seig
The Trenton Times - Harry Sayen
Gould gives a blow-by-blow, month-by-month account of the year in this smart and fresh narrative.
The Journal Of Southern History
Engagingly written . . . a classic account.
Political Studies Review - Kent G. Seig
A masterful and succinct account.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Richard M. Nixon's defeat of Hubert Humphrey in the 1968 presidential election ushered in the Republicans' near-monopoly of the White House for two decades. University of Texas historian Gould's concise and engrossing analysis of this decisive election overturns conventional wisdom on many points, showing, for example, that Robert Kennedy was a less formidable national candidate than people at the time and later historians have believed. Gould maintains that the election's outcome was determined largely by the decline in Democratic loyalty during the '60s. Nixon played up ``wedge issues'' to draw whites with conservative views on race, crime and moral values--a technique, notes Gould, that Reagan and Bush would later exploit. Using unpublished materials at the Lyndon B. Johnson Library, Gould fills in the details of Nixon's attempt to thwart an ``October surprise'' by President Johnson on Humphrey's behalf. As LBJ pushed a peace initiative with the Vietnamese, Nixon worked through Ann Chennault (widow of WW II hero Claire Chennault) to stall South Vietnamese acceptance of a bombing halt until after Election Day. LBJ and Humphrey failed to blow the whistle on Nixon, because doing so would have revealed that they had wiretapped Chennault's phone conversations. (Mar.)
Library Journal
As the torch has been passed to the first president of the Vietnam-baby-boomer generation, Univ. of Texas historian Gould has provided in his analysis of the 1968 presidential election an explanation for Republican successes in the race for the White House in the last 25 years. In a fluid prose that should help this book capture a wide audience, Gould examines the Democratic party dog-fight for the nomination, emphasizing Eugene McCarthy's antiwar entrance into the fray and the decision of Robert Kennedy to throw his hat into the ring. He also chronicles the ``violent spring'' and the antiwar movement that propelled it. While Gould details the debacle that was the Democratic Convention, his work's most lasting contribution may be the pithy chapter titled ``Nixon's the One.'' It examines Nixon's development of his now-vaunted ``Southern strategy'' based mainly on the issue of the desegregation of schools. Nixon's invocations of the forgotten man also resonated well enough for Republicans to use the themes to great advantage for the next 25 years. Well written and easily accessible to large audiences.-- Frank Kessler, Missouri Western State Coll., St. Joseph
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781566630108
  • Publisher: Dee, Ivan R. Publisher
  • Publication date: 2/1/1993
  • Series: American Ways Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 191
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 8.22 (h) x 0.56 (d)

Meet the Author

Lewis L. Gould is Barker Professor of Centennial History at the University of Texas, Austin. His other books include Reform and Regulation: American Politics from Roosevelt to Wilson and The Presidency of Theodore Roosevelt.

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Table of Contents

Chapter 1: On the Eve of 1968
Chapter 2: The President Withdraws
Chapter 3: The Violent Spring
Chapter 4: Nixon's the One
Chapter 5: Democratic Disaster at Chicago
Chapter 6: October Surprises
Recommended Reading

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