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Daisy Petals and Mushroom Clouds: LBJ, Barry Goldwater, and the Ad That Changed American Politics 1st Edition

3.6 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0807142936
ISBN-10: 080714293X
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Editorial Reviews

Review

''Daisy Petals and Mushroom Clouds is a great read for anyone interested in what goes on behind the scenes in politics. Why do campaigns behave the way they do? How was campaign strategy implemented through advertising during the infancy of television? It's a short (156 pages), rich look at a very important turning point in the history of American political campaigns: the birth of negative ads.'' ----Charlie Cook, National Journal (5 Nov 2011)

''Disguised as a slender monograph, Daisy Petals and Mushroom Clouds is actually a political thriller. Robert Mann, a journalism professor at Louisiana State University, worked in the mosh pit of Louisiana politics when it was firmly Democratic, and his expertise is evident as he dissects the watershed presidential election of 1964. . . . Mr. Mann's book is as carefully conducted as a symphony, and it crescendos with great intensity on the night of the ad's airing. Memos included in an appendix bolster his research and contain some gems, such as this note to the president on October 20, 1964: 'Our television has been most ineffective. We have used the same spots over and over until they have outlived their usefulness.' How fascinating that the campaign that ran the single most effective political ad in history complains, only five weeks after it aired, about the ability of its ads to matter to voters.'' ----Ken Kurson, Wall Street Journal

About the Author

Robert Mann holds the Manship Chair in Journalism at the Manship School of Mass Communication at Louisiana State University and is co-director of the school's Reilly Center for Media & Public Affairs. Formerly an aide to three U.S. senators and a Louisiana governor, Mann is the author of critically acclaimed political histories of the civil rights movement and the Vietnam War. His essays and reviews have appeared in numerous publications, including the New York Times and the Boston Globe.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 216 pages
  • Publisher: LSU Press; 1 edition (November 7, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 080714293X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807142936
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 1 x 8.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #515,422 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By dj on February 11, 2012
Format: Hardcover
The entire point of the book is to put this media changing spot in context and to trace it's enduring impact on political advertizing. Mann does a masterful job in meeting this objective. The primary research offered in the study goes beyond being impressive.

The critic who awarded one star to the book is completely off base. His criticism is that the book didn't cover the entire campaign. As noted,that was not the author's purpose. The critical reader could have learned that from reading the dust jacket!

djs, Professor of Political Communication
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Very well researched and honestly objective for the most part. The impact of these 60 seconds of ad time has had the greatest impact on the political sphere and has influenced future campaigns since it's original braodcast more than any other political ad before or since. The ad took the art of saber rattling to new levels and the impact of it on Ronald Reagans stiff upper lip approach to the USSR is probably rooted in the success of this ad in bringing a landslide victory for LBJ over Reagans man Barry Goldwater, the grandfather of the Libertarian movement. Only this kind of ad could have set the tne and lead to Nixon and the direction our country took for the next 16 years.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Was disapointed that the campaign and election was not covered in more detail.
Book did a good job of describing the ad and its consequences.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Wish I'd gotten this one from the library rather than purchased, but if you're interested in American politics and how political advertising got to where it is today it's worth your time. The discussion of how a presidential candidate with political beliefs and style distinctly from the far wings of a major party ran his campaign offers a lot of insight in this particular moment in the election cycle.
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Format: Kindle Edition
1964 was US election year. Candidates were the incumbent President, Lyndon Johnson [Dem] and Barry Goldwater [Rep]. By fall the campaign was getting intense. On September 7, Labor Day, NBC were showing the Monday Night Movie. In the intermission at 9. 50pm an advertisement was run for the Democrats. It lasted 57 seconds. The shot is to be known as Daisy Petals and the Mushroom Cloud. It was utterly stunning. 50 years after [ You Tube] it still takes your breath away. That night politics changed forever - according to Robert Mann.

Now - if you have never seen the broadcast, watch it now.

This book is short with a good portion of it appendices of documents. It is not at all a comprehensive account of the election, nor does it claim to be.

Mann describes how the advert germinated. He explains just why this little film is so powerful. He sets it in the context of the 1964 presidential campaign and against the background of advertising, especially political advertising, in America. Reaction in the following days is described, and also the recall of journalists and politicians long after.

Did it win it for LBJ? Actually probably not, according to the author. Still less did it kill the radical conservatism represented by Goldwater - Ronald Reagan rode the same horse into the White House in 1980. But it established quite firmly the hegemony of emotion over reason in winning votes. Thereafter no credible candidate for office dare run without an advertising agency calling the shots. Image then policies or perhaps image then more image. The genie was let out of the bottle that late summer evening.

That said, the author agrees that nothing since has come close. So maybe there's another story here and I guess another book.

Two final points.
Read more ›
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