From Publishers Weekly
Miroff (Icons of Democracy: American Leaders as Heroes, Aristocrats, Dissenters, and Democrats
), a political science professor at SUNY-Albany, deconstructs the few successes and many failures of McGovern's Democratic insurgency. Miroff names several factors underlying the magnitude of his defeat by Richard Nixon (McGovern carried only Massachusetts and the District of Columbia), among them organized labor's desertion, orchestrated by AFL-CIO president George Meany, an old school anticommunist at odds with McGovern's anti–Vietnam War stance; the failure of mainstream Democratic regulars to embrace McGovern; McGovern's so-called Jewish problem based on fears that he was not sufficiently pro-Israel; and the charge—instigated by the Nixon campaign and perpetuated by the media—that McGovern was too radical. Miroff notes that the 1972 campaign presaged a number of political trends, some good, some bad. On the positive side, the campaign showed the power of grassroots politics; on the negative side was an identity crisis in the Democratic Party, caught between liberal ideals and political pragmatism. Thorough, well sourced (the author was able to interview McGovern) and well written as it is, this will be primarily of interest to '60s survivors and political junkies. 21 photos. (Sept. 14)
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"A deeply perceptive and stunningly fresh narrative of a major turning point in U.S. political history. Essential reading for anyone who wants to understand both the promise and the pitfalls awaiting Democrats who stand up for their principles." Michael Kazin, author of A Godly Hero: The Life of William Jennings Bryan "Brings to life the excitement and furor of a time when Americans were as divided over Vietnam as they are over Iraq today." James MacGregor Burns, author of Leadership and Running Alone "An elegant reassessment that is at once broadly sympathetic and analytically candid." Stephen Skowronek, author of The Politics Presidents Make"