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The Making of the President 1972 (Landmark Political) Paperback – Bargain Price, October 5, 2010

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From the Back Cover

In The Making of the President 1972, the fourth volume of narrative history of American politics in action, Theodore H. White brings his defining quartet of campaign narratives to a surprising and riveting close. The consummate journalist, White chronicles both the Democratic and the Republican parties as they jockeyed for position toward the end of Richard M. Nixon’s turbulent first term. He illuminates the cinematic moments that shaped the campaign—the attempt on George Wallace’s life, Edmund Muskie crying in the snow in New Hampshire, the swift rise and fall of Tom Eagleton, and the ongoing anguish of Vietnam—leading inexorably to a second chaotic collapse among the Democrats and a landslide victory for Nixon. Yet even as the president’s highest ambitions were confirmed, White watches aghast as the “new Nixon” of 1968 is eclipsed by the corrupt Nixon of old—a Shakespearean conclusion to an astonishing political epoch.

--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Theodore H. White (1915–1986) was an American political journalist, historian, and novelist, best known for the Making of the President series: his accounts of the 1960, 1964, 1968, and 1972 presidential elections, all of which are being reissued with new forewords by Harper Perennial Political Classics. His other books include Thunder Out of China, America in Search of Itself, and In Search of History: A Personal Adventure.


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Product Details

  • Series: Landmark Political
  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; Reissue edition (October 5, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061900672
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,546,574 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Marc Korman on September 18, 2008
Format: Hardcover
The Making of the President 1972 is Theodore White's penultimate entry in the series dating back to 1960 and the last of the consecutive elections he covered in detail. He has never been able to live up to his own high 1960 standard, but the subsequent "Making of" books are still worthwhile reads and 1972 is no exception. As with his past entries, White not only chronicles the presidential campaign, but offers rich commentary on the nation's politics, events, and people. Somehow, White manages to key in extremely closely on an event but still give excellent context that demonstrates how the event fits into broader societal shifts.

A few things I noticed in this outing:

1. White really likes Richard Nixon. In previous entries, I do not remember his admiration and respect for Nixon, despite White's self-admitted liberal leanings, coming across so much. Ironically, the book was written during the height of investigations into Nixon's activities with his impeachment and removal looming.

2. White offers some of the greatest details on the stresses of the modern presidency. These details come late in the book, but when White describes the number of appointments the President makes, how many reports he (and some day she) is supposed to read, and the issues they are supposed to influence it is truly mind boggling how any human being can even attempt it. To a lesser extent, White demonstrates a similar problem with presidential candidates. The vice presidential selection process that McGovern used was rushed at best, stupid at worst. A contributing factor was the schedule he was keeping.

3. It is amazing how many people said no to the offer of the Democratic VP nomination, both before and after the Eagleton chaos. It is almost comical to read.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By k.Goldberg on May 26, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
In November of 1972 President Richard Nixon was re-elected in a landslide over his challenger Senator George McGovern. Yet the year began with the election looking highly questionable. What happened? Read these superbly-written pages and you will see why. First, President Nixon's historic trip to China and a strong economy gave him a boost. Second, an army of student and peace-loving volunteers helped McGovern win the Democratic nomination in an upset over more moderate (and better-qualified) Senators Hubert Humphrey, Ed Muskie, and Henry Jackson. McGovern's liberal support for school busing, massive defense cuts, and other issues alienated moderates, labor, and swing voters. Then his running mate Tom Eagleton resigned due to a history of mental illness. By early August many Americans viewed the Democratic challenger as both radical and incompetent, and Nixon led 59-34% in the polls (he won 61%-38%, carrying 49 states). All this played out against the backdrop of street protests, Vietnam, long hair, the grevious wounding of Governor George Wallace, and a still-dormant political scandal by the name of Watergate.

Author Theodore H. White (1915-86) was among the nation's top political journalists, and he tells the story in masterful style. This book makes excellent reading for political junkies, history fans, and anybody with an interest in national elections. The same could be said for his three previous Making of the President efforts (1960, 1964, 1968).
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By T. Rutledge on February 20, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I read this book in 2012. This is how a political book should be written. Ted White does not go on some lengthy, agenda-driven political diatribe. Instead, he gives a rather candid insight into the turmoil that fueled the 1972 election. Obviously, after this book came out, the whole Watergate affair exploded, leaving a revisionist history of how the Dems came to nominate McGovern and how Nixon managed his landslide. White is no Nixon slappy (read his book on the 1968 election, or his book he wrote after this one - Breach of Faith -if you do not believe me). Instead, White gives an unbiased, fair and balanced (!) view of how the 1972 Election shaped up; why McGovern was the Dem nominee; why the country was burned out on 1960s big gov't liberalism; and why Nixon trounced him. His respect for Nixon comes from the fact that, by 1972, Nixon was on the cusp of being a "transformative" President.

This is a good size book, and it is often times dry reading. White packs a lot of information into every sentence. It took me quite some time to finish reading this book. Reading this book now, you can understand how the Dems lost their majority status, how the country moved towards the right, how a conservative Dem like Carter (yes, Fox News people, Jimmy Carter was a conservative Democrat), and a true conservative like Reagan, were able to ride an anti-government wave into power. The seeds of this were brewing by 1970-71, and Nixon sang the tune people wanted to hear in 1972; McGovern did not.

If you want a book that sticks to the facts, without laying on the "commentary" and built-in bias (right or left) that plagues our media these days, then this is the book for you. This is not a character study of Nixon. This is a stick to the facts explanation of how the 1972 Election came to be.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By K.A.Goldberg on November 13, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This superb narrative by journalist Theodore H. White (1915-86) captures the tenor of the times. The USA was a prosperous but divided nation in 1972, troubled by Vietnam, school busing, racial divisions, crime, alienation and distrust. President Richard Nixon wasn't all that popular in January, yet he won re-election by a landslide in November. As the author shows, several events worked in his favor, including the economy, Nixon's breakthrough trip to China, a winding down Vietnam War, and a mistake-prone campaign by opponent George McGovern. Nixon also shrewdly side-stepped press scrutiny and blame for the Watergate affair until after the election. I felt the author was too admiring of Nixon, glossing over the man's deceit and questionable policies - this book being written just before Watergate expanded to bring Nixon down in disgrace.

White also vividly describes McGovern's faulty campaign. An army of grass-roots volunteers in the primaries helped McGovern capture the Democratic nomination over better known (and probably better qualified) contenders like Hubert Humphrey and Ed Muskie. But McGovern angered organized labor, and he turned off centrist voters with liberal proposals on busing and welfare. Already well behind in the polls, McGovern then chose a running mate (Tom Eagleton) without first checking his background. When news broke of Eagleton's prior mental illness he was let go, but by then McGovern's slim chances had vanished.

This was the author's fourth MAKING OF THE PRESIDENT book during the years 1960-1972, and in some ways his best. Here readers see the seeds of political divisions that exist today. Despite White's soft-soap look at Nixon, this is gripping narrative for anybody interested in politics or history.
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