Facility Spring Cleaning BDD_MSW16 Amazon Fashion Learn more nav_sap_cbcc_7_fly_beacon $5 Albums Fire TV Stick Made in Italy Amazon Gift Card Offer out2 out2 out2  Amazon Echo  Echo Dot  Amazon Tap  Echo Dot  Amazon Tap  Amazon Echo Introducing new colors Kindle Paperwhite AutoRip in CDs & Vinyl Spring Arrivals in Outdoor Clothing May4th

Your rating(Clear)Rate this item

There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

VINE VOICEon February 22, 2013
Richard Nixon was a fascinating and complex person, and reading about him can be interesting whether you supported his politics or not. Kevin Mattson's book, Just Plain Dick: Richard Nixon's Checkers Speech and the "Rocking, Socking" Election of 1952, presents a glimpse into one pivotal time period in Nixon's life, and through that key time, allows readers to think about Nixon in what might be new ways. I've read a lot about Nixon, and found this short book to skim the surface and not quite delve into the complexity of the character and personality. Most general readers will find this book quick to read and for those less familiar with the Checkers speech and the campaign of 1952, there's a cogent presentation of this time and selected key events.

Rating: Three-star (It's ok)
0Comment|3 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on September 28, 2013
I don't have much to add beyond what other reviewers have commented upon except to add this: when you get to the end of chapter four and before beginning chapter five, make sure you google the speech and watch the entire version. This is important. You must see it yourself; you will be amazed. I am an admitted Nixon hater from way back (though fortunately not that far back) and I was totally blown away. It really is a powerful performance, and puts the entire book -- indeed, Nixon's entire career -- into a new perspective.
0Comment|3 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on January 2, 2013
Matson may be a history professor, but he's not much of a historian. He imposes his own speculation on what Nixon might have been thinking at various points in the 1952 campaign, twists the historical record to make the facts fit his thesis, and draws conclusions that are simply unsupported by any objective reading of the actual events. He claims to have written this book like a novel, and at least he's partially right on that count - it is much more a work of fiction than history but it lacks the narrative power of even a mediocre novel.
0Comment|7 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on October 31, 2015
I have a fascination with Richard Nixon, so it's hard to find a book about him that I don't like. This one focuses largely around Nixon's so called Checkers speech. It has a little leading up to his selection as Eisenhower's running mate, and covers the unfolding scandal and TV speech. Then it wraps up the rest of the winning campaign. It's a fascinating story about a fascinating person told interestingly enough. If the topic interest to you you should appreciate and like the book. But I would recommend a lengthier bio of Nixon in its entirety.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on January 15, 2013
This is an important book. The author writes about the political world of the 1950's in a way that brings it to life. It is a solidly researched account based on documents from the participants in the drama that surrounded the election of Eisenhower and Nixon. Perhaps its most valuable contribution to our understanding of American politics is its clear explication of how Nixon, a cold and unappealing figure,(to those who came of age when he gained the presidency) rose to power, and what the currents in American society were that made this possible.

The most impressive achievement is the last chapter, where Mattson ties together the history with its relevance to the current political situation. Both for those who lived at least part of the Nixon era and to those born after it, this is an enlightening work.

It is regrettable that one dyspeptic (or jealous?) reviewer can bring down the total rating of such a valuable contribution to American political history.

Thomas R. Holmes, PhD
0Comment|3 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
There's been a lot of talk during this presidential campaign of 2012 about how nasty the attacks have been and how this seems to be the most pointed and personal negative campaign ever.

Nonsense. The 2012 campaign has been negative, yes, but rarely personal, and hardly unprecedented. A case in point is the 1952 campaign that is described in part by Just Plain Dick: Richard Nixon's Checkers Speech and the "Rocking, Socking" Election of 1952.

During that campaign, Richard Nixon, the Republican running mate of Dwight Eisenhower, repeatedly insinuated that the Democratic presidential candidate, Adlai Stevenson, was a communist. Nixon especially seemed to enjoy questioning Stevenson's masculinity, calling him "fey" in public and "Adelaide" in private.

Author Kevin Mattson tells an entertaining story of Nixon's campaign, sometimes too entertaining. Mattson speculates about what Nixon was thinking, and actually "quotes" Nixon's thoughts. He bases his speculations of Nixon's thoughts on Nixon's memoirs and papers, and given Nixon's tenuous relationship with truth-telling, those might not be the most reliable sources.

Though sixty years old, the 1952 campaign is still relevant to today's politics. Nixon and Stevenson were both caught up in campaign finance controversies. The relatively small amounts (Nixon was accused of having an $18,000 secret fund) seem comical now, but the principal is the same - how does a candidate who is not incredibly wealthy fund a campaign without taking money from some people who will expect something in return?

Watching the Checkers Speech that Nixon gave to explain the fund and clear his name, you have to shake your head and wonder if people really bought his hokey act. Mattson says they did and that the speech was brilliant. I would disagree, but I just watched people at both conventions this year allowing themselves to be whipped into a rock concert frenzy. People were crying tears of joy during their candidates' speeches.

Just Plain Dick is an entertaining slice of history, looking at the first televised presidential campaign, a truly negative campaign that makes the current campaign (so far, at least), look like a slapping contest by comparison.
0Comment|6 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on January 19, 2013
I was only 8 years old when Nixon made his "Checkers speech" on television. It was delivered at 9:00pm, and I did not see it. Many years later, however, I heard various tv news people speak of Nixon's Checkers speech with an angry tone and bitterness in their voice, and I wondered how a simple speech could cause these people to be so angry. This book helped me to understand why. It turned out to be the same difference in world view that currently separates the Left and Right sides of the political spectrum. This book provides a good overview of the 1952 presidential election and how the Republican Vice-Presidential candidate was being personally smeared by political opponents. More importantly, it covers how, for the first time in history, a candidate used television to make an end run around the news media and pundits and appealed directly to the American people. It proved to be extremely successful, beyond the wildest dreams of Nixon, his opponents and his supporters at the time. It appears that this end-run around the news media is a big part of why Dan Rather and others spoke with such bitterness about the Checkers speech many years afterwards. This book illuminates a small but very important episode in American Political History.
0Comment|One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on March 10, 2013
Historian Kevin Mattson's 2012 book JUST PLAIN DICK: RICHARD NIXON'S CHECKERS SPEECH AND THE "ROCKING, SOCKING" ELECTION OF 1952 and his 2009 volume "WHAT THE HECK ARE YOU UP TO, MR. PRESIDENT?" - JIMMY CARTER, AMERICA'S "MALAISE," AND THE SPEECH THAT SHOULD HAVE CHANGED THE COUNTRY, both quote NEW YORK POST headlines on the presidents in question in their titles and cover historic addresses by them. An engrossing, quick read, JUST PLAIN DICK powerfully underscores how television affects American elections. Its recount of Nixon's televised 1952 "Checkers" speech, which moved him from shaky to solid ground as a candidate for vice president, informs us that it also made Nixon as big with the public as the renowned presidential candidate General Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Who else understood the intimate, emotional medium of television and how it can have the upper hand over facts? None other than Roger Ailes, who as a media consultant to Nixon during his presidency suggested the Republicans develop what he called "G.O.P. T.V.," and while that didn't happen at the time of course it later did when Ailes launched FOX NEWS CHANNEL.

As JUST PLAIN DICK describes, the personal attacks that typify Republican campaigning got a boost from the 1952 presidential election, where Republicans smeared Democratic candidate Adlai Stevenson with references to communism and homosexuality. Had Nixon not kept himself on the Eisenhower ticket with the Checkers speech, his influence over the General and the G.O.P. would not have been so great.

How ironic that twenty years later Nixon may have been the fall guy in the Watergate scandal, from which no televised address could save him, according to the book by reporter Russ Baker, FAMILY OF SECRETS.

Here's looking forward to Kevin Mattson's next book. Perhaps focusing on another historic presidential speech and using yet one more NEW YORK POST headline for the title?

0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on October 14, 2015
Not one of my favorites. Really disappointed. Avid reading this. It is a disaster.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse

Customers also viewed these items

Send us feedback

How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you?
Let us know here.