1968, Second Edition: The Election That Changed America

Overview

The race for the White House in 1968 was a watershed event in American politics. In this brilliantly succinct narrative analysis, Lewis Gould shows how the events of that tumultuous year changed the way Americans felt about politics and their national leaders; how Republicans used the skills they brought to Richard Nixon's campaign to create a generation-long ascendancy in presidential politics; and how Democrats, divided and torn after 1968, emerged as only crippled challengers for the White House throughout ...

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1968: The Election That Changed America

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Overview

The race for the White House in 1968 was a watershed event in American politics. In this brilliantly succinct narrative analysis, Lewis Gould shows how the events of that tumultuous year changed the way Americans felt about politics and their national leaders; how Republicans used the skills they brought to Richard Nixon's campaign to create a generation-long ascendancy in presidential politics; and how Democrats, divided and torn after 1968, emerged as only crippled challengers for the White House throughout most of the years until the early twenty-first century.

Bitterness over racial issues and the Vietnam War that marked the 1968 election continued to shape national affairs and to rile American society for years afterward. And the election accelerated an erosion of confidence in American institutions that has not yet reached a conclusion. In his lucid account, Mr. Gould emphasizes the importance of race as the campaign's key issue and examines the now infamous "October surprises" of Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon as he describes the extraordinary events of what Eugene McCarthy later called the "Hard Year."

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Editorial Reviews

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: 9781566638623
  • Publisher: Dee, Ivan R. Publisher
  • Publication date: 4/16/2010
  • Series: American Ways Series
  • Edition description: 2nd Edition
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 192
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Lewis L. Gould is emeritus professor of history at the University of Texas at Austin. His books include The Modern American Presidency; The Most Exclusive Club: A History of the Modern United States Senate; American First Ladies; and Grand Old Party: A History of the Republicans. He lives in Austin, Texas.
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Table of Contents

Preface to the Pint Edition vii

Acknowledgments xi

Introduction 3

1 On the Eve of 1968 7

The war in Vietnam

Race relations, crime, and law and order

The disarray of the Democrats

Resurgent Republicans

2 The President Withdraws 31

Johnson's political plans

The Tet offensive

Eugene McCarthy and Richard Nixon in New Hampshire

Robert Kennedy Enters the race

The "Wise Men" and Vietnam

Johnson pulls out

3 The Violent Spring 56

The death of Martin Luther King, Jr.

The race issue

George C. Wallace His appeal

Nixon leads Rockefeller

Humphrey and the "politics of joy." McCarthy vs. Kennedy

The California primary and Robert Kennedy's death

4 Nixon's the One 80

The Humphrey campaign and its problems

The nomination of Abe Fortas

Humphrey, Johnson, and Vietnam

Nixon and the Republican convention

The Reagan challenge

The selection of Spiro Agnew

5 Democratic Disaster at Chicago 104

Humphrey, the convention, and the war

The Johnson influence on the Democratic convention

The Edward Kennedy boomlet

New rules for the party

Protests in the streets

Humphrey and Muskie selected

Police and protesters clash, and the public reacts

6 October Surprises 129

Humphrey's campaign revives

The Salt Lake City speech

Wallace fading

Nixon and the overconfident Republicans

The Johnson peace initiative

Nixon and South Vietnam

The Humphrey surge and Nixon's response

The election results and their meaning

Recommended Reading 156

Index 759

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