Kennedy & Nixon: The Rivalry that Shaped Postwar America [NOOK Book]


First as friends, then as bitter enemies, John Kennedy and Richard Nixon shared a rivalry that had a dramatic impact on American history and that has never been understood until now. One would become the most dashing figure of the post-World War II era, the other would live into his eighties, haunted and consumed by the rivalry. In Kennedy and Nixon, Christopher Matthews offers a fresh and surprising look at these two political giants, offering a stunning portrait that will change the way we think about both of ...
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Kennedy & Nixon: The Rivalry that Shaped Postwar America

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First as friends, then as bitter enemies, John Kennedy and Richard Nixon shared a rivalry that had a dramatic impact on American history and that has never been understood until now. One would become the most dashing figure of the post-World War II era, the other would live into his eighties, haunted and consumed by the rivalry. In Kennedy and Nixon, Christopher Matthews offers a fresh and surprising look at these two political giants, offering a stunning portrait that will change the way we think about both of them. John Kennedy and Richard Nixon shared a dream of being the great young leader of their age. Starting as congressmen in the class of 1946, the two men developed a friendship and admiration for each other that would last for more than a decade. But what drove history, Matthews shows, was the enmity between these two towering figures whose 1960 presidential contest would set the nation's bitter course for years to come. In this startling dual portrait - a modern-day Amadeus, with Nixon as the talented, frustrated, always outdone Salieri to Kennedy's Mozart, the charismatic genius - Matthews shows how the early fondness between the two men (Kennedy told a trusted friend that if he didn't receive the Democratic nomination in 1960, he would vote for Nixon) degenerated into distrust and paranoia, the same emotions that, in the early 1970's, ravaged the nation. Christopher Mattew's revealing book sheds new light on this complicated relationship and the role that it played in shaping America's history.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Wartime naval officers John Kennedy and Richard Nixon entered politics in the congressional class of 1947 and remained friendly thereafter. Until ambition and party identity began to pull them apart, they even shared a Cold War conservatism and middle-of-the-road domestic agenda. Yet Kennedy would remark after his narrow presidential victory in 1960, "If I've done nothing [else] for this country, I've saved them from Dick Nixon." Because Kennedy had his father's fortune as well as his father's ruthlessness, he was able to hold his own in the national arena after Nixon's own opportunism got him (during Eisenhower's illnesses) within a heartbeat of the White House. Additional Kennedy advantages were his authentic hero status and a reputation for braininess gained from his book Profiles in Courage. Washington cable news anchor Matthews (Hardball: How Politics Is Played) has described the largely familiar parallels between the political careers of the two electoral rivals and added some striking ones of his own. Nixon, he contends, was handicapped by resentment of Kennedy's affluence and easy elegance, struggling clumsily once in office to match what he saw as his presidential style. Running against the graceful ghost of one Kennedy, he found himself, in 1968, competing against the shade of a second martyred Kennedy, then against the inheritance of the Last Brother-whose ambitions he sought to sidetrack by means of the bunglers of Watergate. Haunted by the Kennedys, Nixon recklessly undermined his own presidency. To Matthews, the "Camelot" aura is as much a misperception as the idea that Watergate represents the real Nixon. Despite a straining for balance and a tendency to oversimplify to fit the tale to the theme, it is a good story. Illustrations not seen by PW. (June)
Library Journal
What caused the rift between Kennedy and Nixon, one-time friends and ideological soul mates, is the subject of this eminently readable dual political biography. Matthews, noted television commentator and author (Hardball: How Politics Is Played, HarperPerennial, 1989), shows how these two anti-New Dealers, anti-Communists, and freshmen members of Congress in 1946 became enemies as their political careers advanced. Kennedy's father donated $1000 to Nixon's 1950 senatorial campaign and even promised his support to Nixon in 1960 if Kennedy was denied the presidential nomination. Both men became enemies for life as a result of the bitter 1960 election. Kennedy never forgave Nixon for receiving almost as many votes as he did. Nixon never forgave Kennedy for establishing a dynasty he thought unbeatable. Even after the assassination, Nixon waged war against Robert and Ted, as well as JFK's ghost and the myth of Camelot. Matthews's portrayal of these political icons demonstrates that, in the words of Kennedy's secretary, Evelyn Lincoln, they were more like "two men on third" than the opposites they are believed to be. Highly recommended for public libraries. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 12/95.]Karl Helicher, Upper Merion Township Lib., King of Prussia, Pa.
Kirkus Reviews
Matthews, the news anchor of the televison show America's Talking, offers an on- target dual portait of rival aspirants for the presidency, both eventually successful in their quest for the prize, both destined to end tragically.

Richard M. Nixon and John F. Kennedy, Navy veterans of WW II, were elected as members of the House of Representatives' freshman class of 1946. At first they were friendly rivals: Matthews writes touchingly of their cordial personal relationship as colleagues (often sickly during his Senate career, Kennedy received regular hospital visits from the sympathetic Nixon). Nixon rose first, winning the vice presidency under Dwight Eisenhower (Kennedy cheered Nixon's rise in a personal note to the new vice president) and building a national reputation. The bitter and close-fought campaign of 1960 transformed the relationship between the two men: In the now legendary televised debates, Nixon came off as colorless and tired, while the handsome, relaxed Kennedy impressed viewers with his wit and command of detail. As the author shows, the exchanges between the two rivals, who were never far apart on policy matters, became abusive and personal as Election Day approached. In the end, Nixon lost the popular poll by little more than 100,000 votes. Bitter about alleged ballot theft in Texas, Illinois, and elsewhere, Nixon was convinced for the rest of his life that he'd been ambushed by the Kennedy machine. Nixon was eclipsed during Camelot's thousand days: even after Kennedy's 1963 assassination, he was haunted by the ghosts of Camelot and, more concretely, by the political prospects of Kennedy's brothers. Succumbing to paranoia even after his election to the presidency in 1968, Nixon conducted covert surveillances and smear campaigns against Ted Kennedy, Kennedy family allies, and other political opponents, a propensity that contributed to his eventual downfall and disgrace.

Matthews doesn't break new ground, but he draws a striking picture of the destruction of a political friendship and its consequences for the country.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781439135310
  • Publisher: Free Press
  • Publication date: 11/1/2011
  • Sold by: SIMON & SCHUSTER
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 462,843
  • File size: 8 MB

Meet the Author

Chris Matthews
Chris Matthews is anchor of MSNBC’s Hardball. He is author of Tip and the Gipper; Jack Kennedy: Elusive Hero; Kennedy and Nixon; Now, Let Me Tell You What I Really Think; American: Beyond Our Grandest Notions; Hardball: How Politics Is Played by One Who Knows The Game; and Politicians: The Backroom World They Never Show Us.
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