Rising Star, Setting Sun: Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, and the Presidential Transition That Changed America

Jonathan Shaw. Pegasus, $29.95 (284p) ISBN 978-1-68177-732-0
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)
Reviewed on: 03/19/2018
Release date: 05/01/2018
Genre: Nonfiction
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