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FDR, Dewey, and the Election of 1944 Hardcover – September 2, 2011

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Editorial Reviews


"This is a fun volume on an often overlooked presidential contest.... This book is worth it for the political junkie who wants to check the 1944 election off their list." ―Karl Rove

"A fast-moving, blow-by-blow account of the often neglected wartime campaign that pitted Franklin Delano Roosevelt against Republican Thomas E. Dewey, with pollsters divided to the very end. For political junkies there is suspense, backroom dealing, and surprises about both presidential and vice-presidential nominations, as well as where the parties would stand on the future both at home and abroad. And while today we worry about partisan extremism, in 1944 a sitting commander-in-chief and his administration were accused not only of domestic corruption but of military blunders that cost American lives, all while leading the country toward communism or monarchy." ―Roger Lane, author of Murder in America: A History

"[T]his book is informative, interesting (especially for the political history geek) and suspenseful in spite of the fact that we all know how the story is going to end." ―

"David M. Jordan tells the story of the 1944 presidential election, and he tells it very well. In a clearly written, well-researched narrative he describes the various contenders for the Republican nomination, which eventually went to Thomas E. Dewey." ―Journal of American History

"This book alone proves Jordan has what it takes to allow the reader to check out of present day and visit a time period like no other in history. I commend him for that because he allowed me to do so.
" ―thepoliticsofjamiesanderson.blogspot

"Jordan provides a detailed account of the 'infighting and horse-trading' of this hard-fought, wartime campaign." ―Survival

"David Jordan has produced a lucid, highly engrossing account of a fateful but little chronicled episode in American presidential politics. His narrative of the 1944 election campaign―written with savvy and encyclopedic range and featuring a large cast of personalities rendered in deft cameos―deserves a place alongside Theodore White's histories of how high and low character, fierce ambition, and dumb luck play their part in the nation’s choice of its chief executive." ―Richard Kluger, Pulitzer Prize-winning social historian

"[Jordan's] writing style is superb. He has a sense of narrative cadence and a dramatic rhythm reminiscent of an earlier chronicler of presidential campaigns, Theodore White.... Jordan exudes a gift for characterization and an eye for a quotation." ―Intl Social Science Review

"All presidential elections are important―and interesting. The 1944 election is no exception. It's a good story and Jordan tells it well." ―Gary Donaldson, author of Truman Defeats Dewey

About the Author

David M. Jordan is author of Roscoe Conkling of New York: Voice in the Senate; Winfield Scott Hancock: A Soldier's Life (IUP, 1988); "Happiness Is Not My Companion": The Life of General G. K. Warren (IUP, 2001); and Occasional Glory: A History of the Philadelphia Phillies.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 408 pages
  • Publisher: Indiana University Press; First edition (September 2, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0253356830
  • ISBN-13: 978-0253356833
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,322,732 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By bookbuff on October 9, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Can a book about a 60-some year old election be a real "page turner"? It sure can. David Jordan has produced a book that is highly readable, very well researched, beautifully organized, and full of fascinating but little known facts. Even the extensive footnotes are interesting in and of themselves. The author presents the main issures of the war-time campaign - the democrats' "don't change horses in mid stream" versus the republicans' "twelve years is too long" within the context of the back-room haggling and public speeches that led to the nominations and election campaigns of both FDR and Dewey, as well as the democrats' struggle and in-fighting that led to the nomination of Harry S. Truman for vice president. Some surprises for me were the amount of cover-up of FDR's medical condition, and also the role of that 'progressive' republican, Wendell Wilkie. Full of anecdotes of the forties (baseball, movies, etc) and good-natured but thorough descriptions of the principal players, this book was a delight to read. The photos were interesting and illuminating, and the book cover inspired. I recommend this book to anyone interested in politics, history, recent american culture, and/or the presidency. Bravo, Mr. Jordan.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Rule 62 Ken on March 21, 2012
Format: Hardcover
In FDR, Dewey and the Election of 1944, author David Jordan gives a reasonably detailed account of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's fourth victory in a Presidential election, a feat never before accomplished, and barring a constitutional amendment, one that will never be repeated. In this conversational account of the election of 1944, Jordan begins by placing the spotlight on a speech given by Roosevelt to the Congress of Industrial Organizations (the CIO), a leading labor organization. He does not say so directly, but invites the reader to view this speech as the turning point in a very close election, one in which the outcome was never clear.

Jordan takes us through the nomination process for both parties in interesting detail. For the Republicans, it seems that a coronation of Thomas Dewey is inevitable, but Dewey has promised his own state that he will complete his term as Governor. The fine line is that he will not seek the nomination, but will accept it if drafted, something that the movers and shakers in the GOP bring about, in spite of strong contenders from the left (Wendell Willkie) and from the right (Governor John Bricker.)

For the Democrats, two issues must resolve themselves: (1) Will FDR's health permit his serving a fourth term? (2) Will the Democrats dump flaky Vice-President Henry Wallace from the ticket, and if so, who will replace him? Jordan takes us through these processes with the same anticipation as those awaiting these decisions at the time must have felt. He explains how and why Harry Truman came to be chosen as Roosevelt's running mate, and provides us with good insight into all of the back room dealings and how FDR craftily made all possible running mates feel as if they had his support, when in fact he was leaving that decision to others.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Andrew Collins on November 28, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
In the history books, the presidential election of 1944 is usually written off as a footnote in which still popular President Franklin Roosevelt, having already won an unprecedented third term, sailed his way to a fourth term. Many probably never really learn who his Republican opponent was. But in FDR, Dewey, and the Election of 1944, the election is recounted with all the excitement that is usually expected of a campaign.

In 1944, the United States was heavily involved in World War II. In fact, it would be the first presidential election to take place during war since 1864. One of the key issues of the campaign was not so much the war itself, but who would be best to govern in the inevitable peace that followed.

The Republicans had some candidates to choose from. Wendell Willkie, who was the Republican nominee in 1940, attempted another run, but just did not find the support. Some also wanted to draft General Douglas MacArthur into running. Eventually, however, when the Republican convention took place in Chicago, the Republicans chose the Governor of New York Thomas E. Dewey as their nominee.

On the Democratic side, the incumbent president, Franklin Roosevelt, was immensely popular. So popular in fact that Democrats were afraid of what might happen if he chose not to run again because they would have no one else nearly as good. However, despite his health problems, Roosevelt did decide to seek another term. The only problem was finding a running mate. The current vice president, Henry Wallace, was not popular among top Democratic brass. Despite the fact that many Democrats did want him on the ticket, party bosses threw around other names. When the Democrats convened their convention, the slot would go to the senator from Missouri, Harry Truman.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By givbatam3 on August 18, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I found this book a very enligthening introduction to the development of modern American Presidential politics. I learned many things that shed much light on the American political system that are still relevant today, almost 70 years after the election that the writer tells us about. The Depression and World War II were the seminal events that shaped the United States from the middle of the 20th century and this election brought to the fore the main issues that continued to define this era.

Among the most important things that are brought to light is the importance of Tom Dewey in the fashioning of the modern Republican Party. Although he himself was personally rejected twice by the American voters for the Presidency, he had major influence in the party and helped bring it out of the doldrums the Depression and the view held by many that they were responsible for it. Many of his top advisors went to work for Eisenhower when he was elected and even Richard Nixon, as President, offered to appoint Dewey to be a Justice in the US Supreme Court, although he turned it down. He offered the voters the view that the Republicans had learned from the mistakes of the Harding-Coolidge-Hoover era and that they accepted many of the reforms of the New Deal, but they would be in a position to run it more efficiently and would put the brakes on the most intrusive and undemocratic aspects of it.
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