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1968: The Election That Changed America
     

1968: The Election That Changed America

by Lewis L. Gould
 

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The race for the White House in 1968 was a watershed event in American politics. In this brilliantly succinct narrative analysis, Lewis L. 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

Overview

The race for the White House in 1968 was a watershed event in American politics. In this brilliantly succinct narrative analysis, Lewis L. 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, now revised and updated, 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."

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
Gilbert Taylor
The electoral calculus of 1968 was jumbled by political intensities so high, and events so extraordinary, that Nixon's narrow popular-vote victory seemed a fluke of fate. Yet the result of that "annus mirabilis", Republican presidential ascendancy, persisted for a quarter century (excluding Carter's one term). This historian recounts the tangible chronology that overlies the abstract theories a political scientist might propound, say, suburbanization or the schisms of the Democrats. The fact was, nobody knew LBJ would quit until he quit. That reshuffled the entire deck, prompted new rationales from the candidates, and away they went campaigning--Robert Kennedy for just nine weeks. His murder, in Gould's judicious opinion, obscures the real animosities his previous machinations as attorney general had aroused among union workers, regular Democrats, and southern whites, and that would have made his ultimate victory improbable. With equal directness Gould handicaps the others, Clean Gene, Humphrey, Wallace, Nixon, and the issues that informed or deformed their strategies: Vietnam, riots, crime, race. From a rhetorical perspective, conflating the density of such a welter of personalities and events with such an economy of words, with no sentence a superfluous one, demarcates Gould's work as a distinguished one in a crowded field.
Journal Of Southern History
Engagingly written . . . a classic account.
Political Studies
A masterful and succinct account.
— Kent G. Seig
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.
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 Historian
Fast-paced and controversial . . . keeps 1968 fresh in the memory of historians.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781566639101
Publisher:
Dee, Ivan R. Publisher
Publication date:
04/16/2010
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
192
Sales rank:
1,276,333
File size:
225 KB

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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