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The Making of the President 1960 (Harper Perennial Political Classics)
by Theodore H. White(Author)
39 customer reviews
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The Making of the President 1964
Theodore H. White
4.2 out of 5 stars (8)
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Book Details
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432 pages
2009 Nov 3

Book length
Publication date
PublisherHarper Perennial; Reissue edition (November 3, 2009)
Product Dimensions1 x 5.5 x 8 inches
Shipping Weight7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
Average customer review39 customer reviews
Best-sellers rank#54,031 in Books
#42 in Politics & Social Sciences - Politics & Government - Elections & Political Process - Elections
#92 in Politics & Social Sciences - Politics & Government - United States - Executive Branch
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Editorial Reviews
Amazon.com Review
Students of politics and political reporting should cheer: This too- long-out-of-print classic is coming back. The book and the campaign it covered are throwbacks to an era more and more citizens, increasingly mired in sound-bites and tabloidism, are at least subconsciously desperate to resuscitate. You'll be amazed at how knowledgeable (and sometimes even wise) both White and the candidates he covers--Kennedy and Nixon--seem. Yes, it was too good to be true, but what a nice idea. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
“A notable achievement. White has written a fascinating story of a fascinating campaign.” (Time magazine )

“No book that I know of has caught the heartbeat of a campaign as strikingly as Theodore White has done in The Making of the President 1960.” (New York Times )

“A masterpiece . . . full of deep insights into political power in America and how our democracy works in choosing the President. It gripped me from beginning to end as very few books have.” (William L. Shirer )

“More than a fascinating account of how one man succeeded in reaching the White House, while other failed; it is a graduate lesson in the rough, relentless, subtle and devious workings of American politics. It is a magnificent job of reporting, but it is also history.” (Saturday Review )

“[White] revolutionized the art of political reporting.” (William F. Buckley )
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Customer Reviews
4.5 out of 5 stars
5 star28
4 star6
3 star4
2 star0
1 star1
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Brilliantly written in readable prose.
S. D. Core
The 1960 Democratic convention was one of the last to have any excitement as there was a spontaneous rally for Adlai Stevenson to be nominated a third time.
David E. Levine
I recommend this book for those interested in American history or political history.
Andrew Collins
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
Narrative History at its Most Vivid
By William Hare on December 18, 2001
Format: Audio Cassette
One of my inspirations to become a historian stemmed from reading Theodore H. White's milestone Pulitzer Prize-winning narrative history of the exciting 1960 presidential race between Senator John F. Kennedy and Vice-President Richard M. Nixon, "The Making of the President -- 1960." The big reason why I enjoyed and was so profoundly influenced by this milestone work was that it helped popularize the narrative historical approach, which merges the character-building drama of a great novel with the march of history. I found it infinitely preferable to the dry, fact-oriented textbooks I was so frequently compelled to wade through as a student. Almost assuredly, White used this style because it had become comfortable to him in the profession in which his writing career was launched -- journalism. He was a man who knew how to get a story and flesh out the fascinating aspects of the people he interviewed en route.White certainly had a compelling drama in his midst in 1960, with John Kennedy seeking to become the first Roman Catholic ever to attain the presidency and Richard Nixon seeking to extend an eight year, Republican two term rule. As in the best of dramas, contrasts abound between the contestants. Kennedy came from a wealthy Boston family while Nixon was a middle class Southern Californian. The man of wealth was championed by liberals and unionists while the middle class Nixon was favored by conservatives of those of privilege, who feared that Kennedy and his Democratic Party followers were too radical for their tastes. Whereas Kennedy was a social mixer and, to a certain extent, an extrovert, Nixon was a solitary man uncomfortable around people.Having experienced a cliffhanger presidential election in 2000, interested political readers and students of history can draw many correlations between Bush vs. Gore and the nail-biting race of 1960. In fact, the 1960 cliffhanger saw winner Kennedy prevail with a popular vote margin almost five times less the better than half million vote difference between Gore and electoral college winner Bush.White, having decided that Kennedy was likely to prevail, was able to position himself at the Kennedy Compound in Hyannisport on election night. As a result he was able to furnish all kinds of dramatic, firsthand information about the reactions of Kennedy, his family members, and close political operatives.William Hare
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
This should be in paperback
By David E. Levine on April 1, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I hope this landmark book will be released in paperback because it is a classic which should be popularly priced. This book covered the primaries through the election. The documenting of the importance of the West Virginia primary and others may have been the beginning of the end of the convention system of selecting nominees with the subsequent switch to to the primary system. Today, the convention is just a show. Nothing important is decided there. The 1960 Democratic convention was one of the last to have any excitement as there was a spontaneous rally for Adlai Stevenson to be nominated a third time. However, the outcome was not seriously in doubt as Kennedy emerged from the primaries as the clear favorite. This was the campaign that featured the Nixon-Kennedy debates. Additionally, the issue of religion surfaced as Kennedy was the first Catholic to run since Alfred Smith. The book is enthralling and is a true classic. I read it when I was thirteen and have reread it a couple of times as an adult. I recommend it.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
A Landmark
By Patrick Ruffini on October 28, 2000
Format: Hardcover
If you want to understand what is happening in the closing stages of this campaign, then read Theodore White's Making of the President 1960. I was drawn to this book because of the parallels between these two very close elections featuring a cast of characters in many ways similiar: the dull but experienced Vice President running on peace and prosperity versus the more charismatic challenger who argues that American can do better. Who will win? Just like 1960, it's sure to go down to the wire.In particular, White's accounts of the early primaries and the balloting at the Democratic Convention were completely engrossing. 1960 may have been the first modern election in that it was ultimately decided by television, but Campaign '60 started out much differently than the media-driven spectacles of today. White artfully goes behind closed doors and shows how the well-oiled Kennedy organization's battle of personal persuasion won them just enough delegates to seize the nomination. White's account of the Kennedy victory confirms the truth that the skill with which a campaign is waged has much more to do with victory and defeat than deterministic generalities like "peace and prosperity" or "are you better off than you were 4/8 years ago?"
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
One of the best books about American politics ever written
By A Customer on May 30, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This book has long been considered to be a classic among political buffs and those who have any interest in how the American political system works, or once worked. Theodore White (1915-1986), who was once described by TIME magazine as the "godfather of modern political reporting", created a whole new way of covering presidential campaigns with this pulitzer-prize winning book. Unlike previous reporters who simply covered each aspect of a campaign (buildup, primaries, conventions, and the fall campaign)without seeing the whole, White saw all of these events as simply parts (or chapters) of a whole (or book). White spent most of 1960 traveling with all of the candidates, from lonely campaign stops in the Wisconsin and New Hampshire primaries (where sometimes just a handful of people greeted the candidate he was covering), to the excitement of Election Night 1960, which was the closest presidential election night of the twentieth century (if you discount the 2000 Bush-Gore race). White is a marvelous writer, and his descriptions of the personalities, the behind-the-scenes maneuvering, the feuds and strategies that make up a presidential campaign set the standard for a whole new generation of political reporters. I do have one problem with the book, and that is White's obvious bias towards John F. Kennedy. In his memoirs White admitted that he gradually lost all objectivity when it came to JFK and that he came to idolize Kennedy, to the point that he was actually writing some of his campaign speeches - a gross lack of professionalism for a journalist. On the other hand, White also admitted that he strongly disliked Richard Nixon and had deliberately set Nixon up as the "villain" of the book, just as he made Kennedy the "hero". As a result White often leaves out damaging information about JFK (any mention of Kennedy's womanizing, vote-buying in the West Virginia primary, or vote-stealing in the general election were left to later historians to write about). Poor Nixon, on the other hand, is looked at very critically by White - in White's version Nixon makes so many mistakes (and Kennedy is so perfect) that you wonder why the election was so close. In fact, the legend that Kennedy's brief Presidency was a kind of modern "Camelot" started with this book. However, White's skills more than make up for this weakness, and the "Making of the President 1960" should be required reading for anyone who is interested in the great game of American politics.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
Important book about politics
I chose this rating because I received a quality book that came in great condition. This book would interest anyone from the casual historian or political scientist to people who... Read more
Published 3 months ago by nick
"The story of how the Americans chose their President in 1960"
Simply put, THE MAKING OF THE PRESIDENT 1960 is the story of the men who ran for President in 1960, and of the success or failure of their campaigns. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Bryan Byrd
Published 5 months ago by MNneva
The Best Work of its Kind
This is the third time I have read this book, and it never disappoints! Well written, clear, intimate, accurate, reporting that delivers a very satisfying reading experience. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Keith Alan Deutsch
Even if you know that JFK woN the election, this is still an exciting and thrilling book. Read it for fun!
Published 7 months ago by Ulf Jensen
Must have for future campaign managers
The author does a wonderful job explaining all the ins and outs of campaigns. He does this on a very straight-forward timeline. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Tyler M
I really enjoyed this book. The election of 1960 was one of the most interesting in recent US political history. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Dale L. Jennings
Why doesn't anyone ask me for my vote anymore?
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... Read more
Published 13 months ago by John P. Jones III
Brilliant book! Still, after all these years!
I'm a political junkie (for as long as I can stand it) so maybe this book wouldn't be as insightful and fascinating to many but it should be a must for every poli sci student,... Read more
Published 15 months ago by S. D. Core
White's Bright Light On Tight Fight
It was a time when power was overwhelming held by white men and cigarette smoking was more ubiquitous than ants at a picnic. Read more
Published on May 5, 2011 by Franklin the Mouse
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