Shaw (JFK in the Senate) offers a gripping examination of the transfer of power between Presidents Eisenhower and Kennedy at a critical moment in history. Shaw meticulously analyzes the aggressive campaign strategy Kennedy followed in 1960 after observing the Democrats’ defeat in the 1956 presidential election. Facing Richard Nixon, Eisenhower’s oft-overlooked vice-president, Kennedy blasted the Eisenhower administration for allowing America to lose much of its international status while stagnating domestically. Eisenhower, the first president barred from running for a third term by the 22nd amendment, bitterly resented these attacks on his leadership yet failed to strongly support the Republican candidate. Shaw shines in unearthing pithy quotes revealing Eisenhower’s lack of enthusiasm for Nixon—asked what major decisions Nixon had helped make, the departing president replied, “If you give me a week, I might think of one.” After recounting Nixon’s defeat by a razor-thin margin, the book describes how Eisenhower and Kennedy, despite deep political and generational differences, worked surprisingly harmoniously during the critical 10-week transition between their administrations. As Shaw successfully illustrates, that period has still-lingering implications for a country attracted both to Kennedy’s optimistic vision of an assertive, powerful America and Eisenhower’s more skeptical, cautious attitude toward governmental action, at home and abroad. (May)
"With telling details and anecdotes, a keen understanding of the principals and their times, and a vigorous narrative that sweeps the reader through his story, Shaw provides a colorful and constructive account of American democracy at work."
"The presidential transition from Dwight Eisenhower to John Kennedy starkly contrasted the parties, temperaments, and generations of the two leaders, yet the transfer of power proceeded amicably in the national interest. John Shaw’s
Rising Star, Setting Sun slips behind the veil of civility to take the measure of both men and assess their personal antagonisms."
"With a stirring address and the passing of the torch to a new generation, the 1961 presidential inauguration marked a pivotal moment in U.S. history. We take these quadrennial rituals of peaceful transition for granted, but in fact they are carefully planned and executed. John Shaw provides fascinating behind-the-scenes detail of this iconic event while exploring the broader context of a nation in evolution. Extensive research, insightful analysis, and a journalist’s knack for telling a good story makes
Rising Star, Setting Sun essential and entertaining reading for anyone interested in the American presidency."
vividly portrays the generational clash between the upstart former lieutenant and the iconic general. Following a campaign marked by raw personal attacks, they overcame their disdain, with a passing of the torch and stirring rhetoric that became a high point in each president’s career."
Rising Star, Setting Sun is a riveting account centered on the ten weeks between the electoral victory of John Kennedy on 8 November 1960 to his inauguration on 20 January 1961. While the focus of action rests on the transfer of power from Dwight Eisenhower to his successor, Shaw additionally provides snapshots of the trends that coursed through American society in the 1950s-1960s. He deftly handles matters related to that era’s economic vitality, demographic shifts, cultural happenings, scrappy partisan politics, and international dilemmas. Shaw’s analysis of rival types of statecraft, particularly in the foreign policy field, rewards close reading as he compares the cautious, prudent, skeptical Eisenhower with the taut, enthusiastic, gung-ho Kennedy. This sharp difference, as Shaw explains in crisp prose, was highlighted in Eisenhower’s farewell speech which contained apt warnings against the “military-industrial complex” versus Kennedy’s inaugural address with its declaration that the United States would “pay any price” to ensure the global “success of liberty."
"A captivating account of Kennedy’s often overlooked formative years in the Senate. A fascinating read."
Senator Robert Casey of Pennsylvania [praise for 'JFK in the Senate']
"Even though John Shaw's superbly-written narrative concentrates on the transition from Dwight Eisenhower to John Kennedy, he has accomplished far more by characterizing the strengths and weaknesses of these two epochal figures throughout their presidential years."
"While Shaw ostensibly focuses on the transition period between the two administrations exiting and entering the White House, his sweeping book covers much more ground. Shaw’s elegant style and attention to history serve as a reminder of that peaceful transition that was a turning point in the 20th century."
"John Shaw does
a brilliant job of capturing the hidden tensions during the transition from Eisenhower to Kennedy. The two men couldn’t have been more different in personal style and policy priorities. Shaw brings to life the sharp contrast between Ike and J.F.K. as the old gave way to the new."
A focused history of the period between Election Day 1960 and Inauguration Day 1961.Market News International congressional reporter Shaw (JFK in the Senate: A Pathway to the Presidency, 2013, etc.) examines the transfer of power between Dwight Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy, "sharply contrasting political leaders" and "generational rivals." Although the orderly transfer of power is a hallmark of American democracy, the author deems this particular transition "a fascinating mix of dutiful cooperation, petty grievances, lofty sentiments, careful organization, ad hoc improvisations, hardball politics, poignant farewells, and elevated public statements." Eisenhower's closing down of his administration and Kennedy's scrambling to form a new one, though, seem not as remarkable as Shaw would have readers believe. Eisenhower was disappointed that his vice president, Richard Nixon, lost the election; he was insulted by Kennedy's criticism of his presidency and "doubted the senator was ready to be president." Predictably, Eisenhower felt "protective of his own legacy, ambivalent about retirement, and determined to get his affairs and those of the country in order." Despite his misgivings about Kennedy, he oversaw a well-organized transfer of power that included two meetings in which Eisenhower apprised Kennedy of problems in Cuba and Laos. Kennedy's transition period, on the other hand, was messy. Shuttling impetuously between his residences in Hyannis Port, Palm Beach, Washington, D.C., and Manhattan, he surrounded himself with advisers to help him select a Cabinet and huge White House staff (about 1,200 support jobs, in addition to top-level appointments), formulate a policy agenda, and write his inauguration speech. As evidence of the distinction between the two men, Shaw points to the contrast between Kennedy's inspirational inaugural message and Eisenhower's farewell speech, in which he warned Americans to be wary of the military-industrial complex. The author prefaces his chronicle of the transition with familiar biographical background of the protagonists and accounts of Nixon's failed campaign, election-night tensions, Eisenhower's achievements, and Kennedy's senatorial record.A detailed yet hardly groundbreaking rendering of a significant moment in political history.