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Thomas E. Dewey and His Times Hardcover – July, 1982

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Hardcover, July, 1982
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Book by Smith, Richard Norton


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 703 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; First Edition edition (July 1982)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 067141741X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671417413
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.2 x 1.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #764,089 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 21, 2001
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Thomas E. Dewey, unfortunately, is probably best remembered by most Americans as the little fellow who lost the 1948 Presidential election to Harry S. Truman in one of the greatest upsets in American history. But thanks to the work of Richard Norton Smith, we can now see Dewey for what he really was - a crusading, crime-busting district attorney; perhaps the best governor New York State ever had; and the man who "modernized" the Republican Party and allowed it to survive through the Depression years and the 1940's. Dewey grew up in a small town in Michigan (his father owned and published the local newspaper), and his rise to fame and fortune came remarkably fast. A compulsive workaholic and "neat freak", Dewey graduated from the University of Michigan and Columbia University Law School in the 1920's. He briefly considered a career as a singer - he had an award-winning baritone voice and liked to sing Broadway tunes in his bathtub - but decided that the law would be a more stable and suitable career. In 1928, he married a stage actress and started a promising legal career in New York City (although he never really liked the Big Apple, and in 1939 he bought a large farm 65 miles north of Manhattan and happily became a weekend farmer and country squire).

In 1933 Dewey, only 31, became a federal and then special prosecutor in New York City and sent several gangsters to prison. In 1937 he was elected District Attorney for Manhattan, and he soon achieved national fame as the "gangbuster" - the honest lawyer who sent dozens of famous mafia leaders to jail. His most famous target was "Lucky" Luciano, the mafia boss of all New York and who was even more powerful than Al Capone.
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15 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Thomas J. Burns VINE VOICE on April 18, 2002
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Thomas E. Dewey, the epitome of Manhattan Avenue politics to conservative Republicans, was himself born and bred further west than the venerable Robert Taft himself. A product of Owosso, Michigan, Dewey attended the University of Michigan, studying literature and law, all the while pursuing a career as a professional singer. It was music that brought him to New York, one of many surprises unveiled in Richard Norton Smith's biography of one of America's most prolific political campaigners.
Dewey was a capable enough performer that in 1924 he was booked for a solo performance in the cultural heart of America. In the audience was the noted music critic Deems Taylor. Taylor commented upon what he perceived as Dewey's contrived emotional stage effects, but this flaw was dwarfed by a more essential one: suffering from laryngitis, Dewey's voice totally shut down halfway through the program. A thoroughly mortified Dewey was forced to take stock of his career, and as a second choice he decided to pursue a law degree. Columbia University of the 1920's enjoyed a plethora of great legal minds, and even the frustrated singer came to develop a passion for law and the potential theatrics of the courtroom.
Dewey's rapid ascent through the law profession was abetted by two factors: his labors on behalf of New York City's struggling Republican party, and the patronage of George Z. Medalie, who would become Dewey's legal and political rabbi. Medalie, a major character in this treatment, enjoyed a thriving private law practice, but he was drafted for one of the city's frequent, and usually unsuccessful, forays against organized crime, which literally held New York in a stranglehold in the 1920's and 1930's.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Lehigh History Student VINE VOICE on August 2, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Thomas Dewey is one of the forgotten figures in American politics and is explored thoroughly in this book. Dewey built his career the old fashioned way through legal victory and gang busting of the mob. More interesting than the presidential runs is actually his work at developing early thorough investigation techniques coupled with accounting strategies. These early years developed an end to the prohibition era and foreshadowed the rise of the methodical calculating man that would become the guiding light of the Republican Party.
Dewey ran for office and failed for a variety of reasons each time. Although coming close to defeating Truman the second time it was a lost cause due to the publics perception of him. He was seen as stiff and unfeeling and the votes always shifted around him. While he was not the warmest candidate he was a great political operator who understood the system. He gathered as many votes as he did through his sheer political brilliance. He became the antithesis of Robert Taft who typified the isolationist branch of the Republican Party. Dewey became the internationalist branch espousing the UN and fighting against communism through economic expansion. While still a part of the Republican Party at the time he represented what his party would become under Eisenhower and develop into under Reagan. The isolationist branch weakened as time went on. (For more on Taft read Mr. Republican by James Patterson). Although unsuccessful as a presidential candidate he was an excellent governor and had the support of the people there. He kept excess funds from the World War II years and used them to develop transportation and help to alleviate crisis following the war.
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