The First Modern Campaign: Kennedy, Nixon, and the Election of 1960

Gary A. Donaldson, Author . Rowman & Littlefield $70 (199p) ISBN 978-0-7425-4799-5 ISBN 978-0-7425-4800-8

T here will be no serious dispute about this book's basic, and frequently repeated, argument—that the 1960 election was the first modern presidential election, principally because of the centrality of the nation's very first televised debates. Nor will any of the details about which the author writes be new to knowledgeable readers. But what Donaldson (Liberalism's Last Hurrah: The Presidential Campaign of 1964 ) does achieve is to gather everything about that pivotal election season in a fast-paced, comprehensive tale. He brings the day's leading historical characters alive in all their complexity, diversity and skills. Sympathetic to them yet objective about their strengths and weaknesses, he lets contemporaries do the criticizing in their own words while he observes them from above the fray—all, save John Kennedy, making their way through the usual political thickets to defeat. Donaldson is particularly good at analyzing the divisions within the two major parties, especially those of the Republicans, and in assessing the role of religion in the campaign. One comes away with a heightened appreciation of Nixon's clarity of understanding, Kennedy's distinctive energy and the origins of the right's grievances, which eventually led to its takeover of the Republican Party. (July)

Reviewed on: 05/07/2007
Release date: 06/01/2007
Paperback - 199 pages - 978-0-7425-4800-8
Open Ebook - 210 pages - 978-0-7425-8012-1
Show other formats
The Best Books, Emailed Every Week
Tip Sheet!