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The Making of the President, 1960 Hardcover – February 1, 1999

4.5 out of 5 stars 74 customer reviews

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Hardcover, February 1, 1999
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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.


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 )

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 )

A notable achievement. White has written a fascinating story of a fascinating campaign. (Time magazine )

[White] revolutionized the art of political reporting. (William F. Buckley )

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. --The New York Times

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Buccaneer Books (February 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1568491433
  • ISBN-13: 978-1568491431
  • Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 5.8 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (74 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,195,724 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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.
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Format: Hardcover
This book, published in 1961, 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. Before this book, reporters tended to cover presidential campaigns - the presidential primaries, the national political conventions, and the fall campaign - as if they were unconnected, separate events. White revolutionized political reporting by seeing these events as simply parts of a whole - he saw the primaries, conventions, and fall campaigns as linked together, as if they were chapters in a good novel. White also changed political reporting by writing extensively about the behind-the-scenes planning, strategizing, and organizing that occurred in presidential campaigns before the first primary was ever held.

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 (with the exception of the 2000 Bush-Gore race). White is a marvelous writer, and his descriptions of the personalities, the behind-the-scenes maneuvering, the momentum shifts, and the infighting, tactics, and strategies that make up a presidential campaign set the standard for a whole new generation of political reporters.
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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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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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