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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Making of the President 1960
I had to study this as part of a politics course at University in 1967. Study it I did. But what I never realised then was what a superb, well written book it is. Back then it was a ground breaking book, the first of its kind. Its the inside story of Kennedy's election in 1960, a fly-on-the-wall insight into how the American electoral system works on the ground. Absorbing...
Published 4 months ago by Grahameducato

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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Competent but biased
White has certainly written a useful work, giving a contemporary view of the Presidential Election of 1960, but his bias in favor of the Democrats cannot be denied.
Published on 29 April 1999


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Making of the President 1960, 27 May 2014
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I had to study this as part of a politics course at University in 1967. Study it I did. But what I never realised then was what a superb, well written book it is. Back then it was a ground breaking book, the first of its kind. Its the inside story of Kennedy's election in 1960, a fly-on-the-wall insight into how the American electoral system works on the ground. Absorbing and very readable, un-put-downable, like a good novel.
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5.0 out of 5 stars wow, 20 Oct 2012
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Anyone interested In politics has got to read this book. describes the race in amazing detail. But what really stands out is the sheer quality of the writing, easily stands the test if time.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Why doesn't anyone ask me for my vote anymore?, 18 May 2012
By 
John P. Jones III (Albuquerque, NM, USA) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Making of the President 1960 (Harper Perennial Political Classics) (Paperback)
Campaigning and election "cycles" now seem to be eternal. And since (most) people only vote once in these cycles, I've noticed a strong tendency in all the hoopla, and endless emails that I receive: no one is actually asking for my vote, or how I might be able to influence just one more person to vote for them; instead, it is this endless drumbeat of "send me money." And all the people asking already have far more money than I. Millionaire beggars. So, I wanted to reflect: Has it always been this way? And I decided to re-read this classic account of the 1960 election, a book I first read almost 50 years ago. (Note: I've also read his accounts of the '64, '68 and '72 elections, but I had remembered this one as being his best.)

The election ended up being extremely close. As White concludes his account, he notes that if only 4,500 voters in Illinois, and 28,000 voters in Texas had changed their minds, Richard Nixon would have been President in 1960. On the re-read, I felt that White, simply as a political analyst, who can explain to the reader the complex political forces that are operative, is brilliant. Nothing is diminished after 50 years, though the English language has changed a bit, with different connotations today for "gay" and "girl."

White starts his account at the Kennedy "compound" of houses at Hyannisport, MA. awaiting the electoral results. White deftly draws succinctly portraits of the character of the principals involved in the campaign, certainly one of White's strengths throughout the book. Then he goes back in time, starting in '56, when Kennedy essentially made the decision to run in '60, and to marshal a team of "the best and the brightest" to achieve victory. The author has alternating chapters on the Kennedy and Nixon campaigns. Kennedy had to fight off challenges from Humphrey and Symington, and used the primary electoral process effectively to that end. As White says, all the professional politicians hated the primaries since they stir up internecine feuds, and provide material that can be used by the opposition in the main election. Nixon, being Eisenhower's Vice President, was in a much stronger position within his own party, but still had to fight off Rockefeller. White relates how Nixon essentially "caved" to Rockefeller's demands on "defense." Another key insight was how Nixon equivocated on whether he was targeting the white Southern vote, or the black, big city, northern vote, to his detriment in both categories. Kennedy had the "brilliant team," and a brilliantly executed strategy; Nixon was very much the "loner," with a bumbling strategy, and yet the election was decided by razor-thin margins.

White commences the book underscoring the uniqueness, and, despite its flaws, how effective is this process is in enabling a transfer of political power without bloodshed, the latter being the "norm" in human history. The chapter at the beginning of Part II, "Retrospect on Yesterday's Future" is an incisive portrait of America at the end of the `50's. A couple of startling "factoids" from that chapter: one in four homes that Americans lived in were built between 1950 and 1960 (and I was in one of the four at that time), and the homes having TV's went from 11% at the beginning of the decade, to 88% at the end. Despite the very large cloud of possible nuclear war with the Soviet Union, it was a time of improving economics for most Americans.

Ironies? There were a few. How strange today to read White's phrase "the menace of Laos" (p. 450), whose border I would be hard up against for much longer than I cared, within eight years. And White was very much a political "insider" of a reporter, with "access" and all, so after the election he is in the Oval Office, and comments on the thickness of the glass in the French doors, strong enough to "stop an assassin's bullet." Oh, as to the money grubbing during the campaign, White said that the candidates were doing it 50% of the time (the relatively low percentage is another reason to be nostalgic to for the `50's), and he even touchingly portrays Hubert Horatio Humphrey writing a $750 check out of his "grocery money" to a TV station in West Virginia, for air time. A very worthwhile re-read. 5-stars.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Majestic Chronicle of A Majestic Election, 27 Dec 2010
By 
James Gallen (St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.A.) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Making of the President 1960 (Harper Perennial Political Classics) (Paperback)
"The Making of the President 1960" is initial volume in Theodore H. White's classic series of histories of presidential campaigns. Everything makes this book a classic, the personalities, the issues, the campaign and the artful writing of a superb journalist. Whether you are looking for history, a stroll down memory lane or just entertaining reading, this book is the place to look.

As readers of my Amazon reviews know, I have read extensively in history. I also have childhood memories of seeing John F. Kennedy in a motorcade down State Street in East St. Louis in October 1960. Even with that background I learned much about this campaign from this tome.

White begins the narrative on election night in the Kennedy compound in Hyannisport with a reflection on the path that brought the candidate and his team to that night and their rendezvous with history. The reader is made privy to the family exchanges as the nation made its decision and the precinct by precinct analysis as the returns poured in. With victory secured and claimed, White then takes us back to the beginning.

This book lays out the contenders: Hubert Humphrey, his record too liberal and his base too limited to win, but a useful stalking horse for those counting on a deadlock; Lyndon Johnson, Senate majority leader and Stuart Symington, a respected senator, both of whom distained the primary route; Adlai Stevenson, who made men proud to be Democrats and, because of that, may have deserved a chance to run against someone other than the General; and John F. Kennedy, who, after failing to secure the 1956 vice-presidential nomination, was determined not to fail again.

Each candidate had his own path to the White House. Humphrey had to win primaries to establish himself as the people's choice. Kennedy had to go the primary route in order to prove, to the party leaders and the country, that a Catholic could win and then use his popular support to win over the favorite sons and the party bosses. Johnson, Symington and Stevenson needed Humphrey to bloody Kennedy enough to cause a deadlocked convention that might give each of them a chance. Surprisingly, the one with the best chance in such a circumstance might have been Symington.

White takes the reader on a ride through the snows of Wisconsin and the hills of West Virginia. Kennedy had to take the Humphrey bait in Hubert's neighboring state in order to try to finish HHH off. The narrow victory, in which Humphrey won in heavily Protestant areas bordering on Minnesota and Kennedy won in Catholic areas farther from Minnesota, forced a rematch in heavily Protestant West Virginia. Gyrating polls and a whirlwind campaign produced a lopsided Kennedy win that established him as the front runner and enabled his team to pry enough votes from the leaders to get a first ballot victory in Los Angeles. The choice of Lyndon Johnson for vice-president is another drama skillfully recorded by the author.

The Republican choice was much simpler. The favorite was Vice-President Nixon who's only obstacle was Governor Nelson Rockefeller of New York. A series of meetings and commitments made for an unchallenged, but bumpy, march to the nomination.

The tickets set, the book races into the momentous campaign. We travel along as Kennedy addresses the religious issue before the Houston Ministerial Alliance, the two candidates deal with the imprisonment of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and negotiate over the question of the first Presidential debates. Ironically it was Nixon, after agreeing to the debates confident that his debating skill would score a knock-out blow, who was harmed by the face to face encounters. White does an exceptional job of taking the race down to the wire with Nixon's illness, adherence to his 50 state pledge and campaign disorganization comparing unfavorably to the Kennedy machine. In the end, the outcome was so close that any advantage, and slip-up or any public whim can be said to have made the difference.

The election itself was majestic. Majestic in its personalities, involving four consecutive presidents: Eisenhower who chafed as Nixon kept his distance; Kennedy, the handsome winner; Johnson, the runner up who would succeed to the office; and Nixon who, eight years later, would return to power in the aftermath of a violence ridden and war torn Johnson administration. It was majestic in its transitional scope. This race passed the torch to a new generation of Americans- "born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage--and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this Nation has always been committed." It was this election that got the country "moving again", moving from an era relative peace and complacency to a period of social progress and upheaval, inspiring exploration of space and demoralizing lawlessness, protest and rioting. It was an election that cried for a majestic chronicle. Theodore H. White has written it and we should all read it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars All you ever need to read, 24 Aug 1998
By A Customer
White writes like a poet, with sweeping strokes of the pen for his broad subjects, and with a magnifying glass for the smallest details. This book has been used in other campaigns as a how-to text for winning.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent description of the presidential elections., 18 Mar 1998
By A Customer
The author's insightful description of the ardours of the race for the u.s. presidency is rivetting and very revealing. I learnt a lot from it.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The story of one of the most important elections of all time, 21 Sep 1998
By A Customer
Theodore White describes every moment of one of the most important elections of this century. He gives readers an inside look to behind the scenes politics. This book is essential reading for all political science students.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Competent but biased, 29 April 1999
By A Customer
White has certainly written a useful work, giving a contemporary view of the Presidential Election of 1960, but his bias in favor of the Democrats cannot be denied.
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3 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The book responsible for the myth, 29 July 1999
By A Customer
White's "Making of the President 1960" is probably the single book most responsible for creating the JFK myth- a myth that is at odds with the historical record. White's JFK is a romantic figure of mythic proportions, a Homeric hero battling evil. In other words, a pile of crap.
White was heavily courted by the Kennedys and profited mightily from this association, and unfortunately let this color his work. Sad but true.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Yawn!, 16 July 2012
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Boring, but I had to read it for University. It is still very relevant today and I often reference it in my work!
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The Making of the President 1960 (Harper Perennial Political Classics)
The Making of the President 1960 (Harper Perennial Political Classics) by Theodore H. White (Paperback - 1 July 2010)
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