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Everett Dirksen and His Presidents: How a Senate Giant Shaped American Politics Hardcover – September 5, 2000
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From the Back Cover
"A lively and perceptive study of an important and colorful Republican leader that greatly enhances our understanding of congressional politics in the 1960s."--Robert A. Divine, author of America Past and Present and Eisenhower and the Cold War
Top Customer Reviews
Byron Hulsey's work is less a biography than a chronicle of Dirksen's long career in public life. Certainly, we are provided some basic details on his upbringing, personal life, and political campaigns. However, the overwhelming focus is on Senator Dirksen as a practitioner of "supra-partisan" politics, a term Hulsey coins to capture the period of political consensus and harmony that extended from the late 1950s through most of the 1960s. Hulsey depicts, time and again, how Dirksen, the Republican leader in the Senate, collaborated with the Democratic Kennedy and Johnson administrations to forge legislation and advance America's interests during the Cold War.
The election of Richard Nixon in 1968, Hulsey observes, ended the supra-partisan consensus, and ushered in a new period of acrimony and heated partisan division that continue to mark public life to this day. The ascension of a younger generation of legislators -- less deferential to the genteel traditions of the Senate -- and the aggressive Investigative Journalism ethic were contributing factors in the demise of supra-partisianship.
Fittingly, Hulsey observes, three major exponents of supra-partisanship passed from the public stage within a year of each other -- LBJ through retirement and Eisenhower and Dirksen through death.
This book opens a window on a bygone era, and will make for enjoyable reading for anyone interested in the workings of Washington, DC in the 1950s and 1960s.