Deadly Bet / Edition 1

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Lyndon Johnson made a life or death bet during his Presidential term, and lost. Intent upon fighting an extended war against a determined foe, he gambled that American society could also endure a vast array of domestic reforms. The result was the turmoil of the 1968 presidential election—a crisis more severe than any since the Civil War. With thousands killed in Vietnam, hundreds dead in civil rights riots, televised chaos at the Democratic National Convention, and two major assassinations, Americans responded by voting for the law and order message of Richard Nixon.

In The Deadly Bet, distinguished historian Walter LaFeber explores the turbulent election of 1968 and its significance in the larger context of American history. Looking through the eyes of the year's most important players—including Robert F. Kennedy, Eugene McCarthy, Martin Luther King, Hubert Humphrey, Richard Nixon, George Wallace, Nguyen Van Thieu, and Lyndon Johnson—LaFeber argues that the domestic upheaval had more impact on the election than the war in Vietnam.

Clear, concise, and engaging, this work sheds important light on the crucial year of 1968.

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Editorial Reviews

Walter LaFeber skillfully examines 1968 election issues from the point of view of Johnson, Eugene McCarthy, Martin Luther King Jr., Robert Kennedy, Richard Nixon, Hubert Humphrey, George Wallace, and Nguyen Van Thieu.
LaFeber presents a colorful narrative and informative analysis. . . . Recommended.
— W. T. Lindley, Union University
Diplomatic History
An excellent framework for an integrative, reader-friendly format. . . . Anyone who wants to write in this genre should study the methods Walter LaFeber has used to craft and important, accessible style of historical writing.
LaFeber presents a colorful narrative and informative analysis. . . . Recommended.
— W. T. Lindley, Union University
CHOICE - W. T. Lindley
LaFeber presents a colorful narrative and informative analysis. . . . Recommended.
Lewis Gould
Walter LaFeber's The Deadly Bet is a distinguished addition to the abundant writing on the election and its consequences. LaFeber shows what the traditional methods of political and diplomatic history can still do to illuminate the recent past. . . . For a thorough, insightful, and fast-paced narrative based on the most up-to-date historical literature, LaFeber's book offers the best place to start about the 1968 election. It should be particularly useful for college students who have little knowledge about the complexities of politics in the 1960s beyond the myths and legends of the modern, conservative-oriented mass media.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780742543928
  • Publisher: The Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group Inc
  • Publication date: 8/28/2005
  • Series: Vietnam: America in the War Years Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 230
  • Sales rank: 818,826
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.48 (d)

Meet the Author

Walter LaFeber is Andrew H. and James S. Tisch Distinguished University Professor and a Weiss Presidential Teaching Fellow in the Department of History at Cornell University. He is the author of numerous articles and his most recent books include Michael Jordan and the New Global Capitalism and America, Russia, and the Cold War, 1945–2002.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: War and Democracy: The Life-or-Death Bet
Chapter 1: General William Westmoreland: The Tet Offensive
Chapter 2: Senator Eugene McCarthy: The College Student Crusade
Chapter 3: Lyndon Johnson: "People Grow Tired of Confusion"
Chapter 4: Martin Luther King: The Dream
Chapter 5: Robert Kennedy: The "National Soul"
Chapter 6: Richard Nixon: The Candidate from Squaresville?
Chapter 7: Hubert Horatio Humphrey: The Isolation of the Politics of Joy
Chapter 8: George Wallace: The Populism of the Vietnam War Era
Chapter 9: Nguyen Van Thieu: A Merry-Go-Round in a Chamber of Horrors

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