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Books by and about 2012 presidential nominees
Do Not Ask What Good We Do
about Rep. Paul Ryan (2012)
The Path to Prosperity
by Rep. Paul Ryan (2012)
Ten Letters
about Pres. Barack Obama (2011)
A Life of Trial and Redemption
about V.P. Joe Biden (2010)
No Apology
by Gov. Mitt Romney (2010)
Young Guns
by Rep. Paul Ryan et al (2010)
The Path to Prosperity
by Rep. Paul Ryan (2012)
Promises to Keep
by Vice Pres. Joe Biden (2007)
The Audacity of Hope
by Pres. Barack Obama (2006)
Turnaround
by Gov. Mitt Romney (2004)
Dreams from My Father
by Pres. Barack Obama (1996)

Book Reviews

(from Amazon.com)

(click a book cover for a review or other books by or about the presidency from Amazon.com)

Kennedy & Nixon
The Rivalry That Shaped Postwar America
by Chris Matthews



(Click for Amazon book review)

OnTheIssues.org BOOK REVIEW:

The author of this book is the well-known host of MSNBC's "Hardball." He made his name as a political pundit by publishing this book in 1996, although his 1999 book Hardball: How Politics is Played, Told by One Who Knows the Game provided his lasting catchphrase. Matthews does "know the game," since he was a Congressional aide to Tip O'Neill (D, MA) and a speechwriter for Jimmy Carter. He also ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 1974, and considered running for Senate in 2010.

As indicated in the subtitle, the Kennedy-Nixon rivalry "shaped postwar America" from 1946 until Nixon's resignation in 1974. In 1946, both Kennedy and Nixon were first elected to Congress; both had served in WWII; they had offices directly across the hall from one another when Nixon was Vice President and Kennedy was a Senator. Those parallels are explored along with their differences: Kennedy lived a wealthy lifestyle in Georgetown with servants; Nixon instead lived the "Dagwood Bumstead" lifestyle (p. 56); Kennedy went to Harvard; Nixon went to Whittier College. Although Kennedy famously looked full of "vigor" in comparison with Nixon in the 1960 debates, in fact Kennedy was sickly compared to Nixon: JFK was given last rites once during back surgery (p. 99) and another time for Addison's disease (pp. 54-7).

But the book explores more than their personal parallels and differences; it also explores deeply both their politics and their policy stances. Both fought Communism while in Congress: Nixon more famously with the "Alger Hiss case"; but Kennedy was no liberal when it came to Communism. In fact, that's one of the most interesting subtexts of the book: Both men pushed moderate politics instead of the harsh labeling of today. Nixon pushed what he called "practical liberalism" (p. 34) and Kennedy called himself a "fighting conservative" (p. 40). Those self-imposed labels are opposite of their party affiliation, and indicate a willingness to work with the other party in a way which would never be dared by today's politicians.

The book concludes, "Today, the Kennedy Center and the Watergate sit beside each other along the Potomac--like unmatched bookends." This book is not a "retrospective" of "insider politics" like we at OnTheIssues hate--it has some real history; some real sympathy for both sides of many hot issues; and some real depth in explaining two important leaders' motivations. Chris Matthews certainly deserved to earn his reputation with this book--if only other political pundits did the same!

-- Jesse Gordon, editor-in-chief, OnTheIssues.org, April 2014

 OnTheIssues.org excerpts:  (click on issues for details)
Civil Rights
    John F. Kennedy: 1960: Called Martin Luther King's wife when MLK was jailed.
    Richard Nixon: 1947: Joined HUAC to catch real Communists.
    Richard Nixon: 1960: Declined to commit to a black Cabinet member.
Corporations
    John F. Kennedy: 1962: Negotiated no steel price rise & no pay raise.
Foreign Policy
    John F. Kennedy: Rage at those who ignore Soviet expansionism in Europe.
    John F. Kennedy: 1949: Stop onrushing tide of communism from engulfing Asia.
    John F. Kennedy: Committed "Cold Warrior," including aid to Franco's Spain.
    John F. Kennedy: 1957: Switch from Eurocentrism to focus on developing world.
    John F. Kennedy: No US troops to Taiwan to defend Quemoy and Matsu.
    Richard Nixon: Coined term "Domino Theory": defend against Asian Communism.
    Richard Nixon: 1960: Krushchev's grandchildren will live in freedom.
    Richard Nixon: Appeasement didn't work with Hitler & won't work with China.
    Richard Nixon: 1968: Open China so they accept international rules.
    Richard Nixon: If every nation can't be friend, let them not be enemies.
    Richard Nixon: 1971: Initiative came after years asking "Who lost China?".
    Ted Kennedy: 1971: Nixon's China initiative was a "magnificent gesture".
Government Reform
    Dwight Eisenhower: 1952: Who can clean up the mess in Washington? Ike can!
    John F. Kennedy: 1946: Missed filing deadline for running for Congress.
    Richard Nixon: "Practical liberalism" instead of government control.
    Richard Nixon: 1952 headline: "Secret Nixon Fund" led to resignation call.
Homeland Security
    Harry S Truman: 1940s: Stop the Red advance by military aid to Europe.
    John F. Kennedy: Lone senator to take no position on McCarthy condemnation.
    Richard Nixon: 1948: Require Communists to register with government.
Jobs
    John F. Kennedy: 1946: Power of big labor has to be tamed.
    Richard Nixon: 1946: Labor PACs are Communist; so no PAC support.
Principles & Values
    Dwight Eisenhower: 1955: Preferred to dump Nixon as V.P.
    Dwight Eisenhower: Suffered heart attack prior to 1956 re-election campaign.
    Gerald Ford: 1972: Killed banking committee's investigation of Watergate.
    John F. Kennedy: 1960 slogan: Get the country moving again.
    John F. Kennedy: Founded "Muckers Club" to fight high school elitism.
    John F. Kennedy: 1947: Diagnosed with Addison's Disease and given Last Rites.
    John F. Kennedy: 1953: Targeted Nixon as presidential rival for 1960.
    John F. Kennedy: 1953: Married Jackie when she was 22-year-old college senior.
    John F. Kennedy: 1955: "Profiles in Courage" established political stature.
    John F. Kennedy: Ran for Vice Presidency at 1956 convention.
    John F. Kennedy: 1957: Won Pulitzer Prize for Profiles in Courage.
    John F. Kennedy: 1960: primaries dominated for first time over backrooms.
    John F. Kennedy: "Camelot" symbolizes longing for something beautiful & lost.
    Lyndon Johnson: 1960: Planned on nomination at a brokered convention.
    Richard Nixon: Radio debate listeners say Nixon won; TV viewers say JFK.
    Richard Nixon: By age 43, elected to House, Senate, and Vice-Presidency.
    Richard Nixon: At 17, offered scholarship to Harvard, but could not afford.
    Richard Nixon: Founded "The Orthogonians" to fight college elitism.
    Richard Nixon: Earned nickname "Tricky Dicky" in 1950 Senate race.
    Richard Nixon: 1950s: As VP, frontrunner for 1960 presidential nomination.
    Richard Nixon: 1955: Outflanked Ike to keep V.P. post instead of Cabinet.
    Richard Nixon: Ran for CA governor in 1962 instead of President in 1964.
    Richard Nixon: 1972: Bugged offices of Democratic Party in Watergate hotel.
    Richard Nixon: 1973: Existence of tapes was fatal blow to presidency.
    Richard Nixon: 1973 Saturday Night Massacre: Fired special prosecutor.
    Ted Kennedy: 1972: Party's presidential hope as "Last Brother".
    Ted Kennedy: 1972: Used Congress' subpoena power to investigate Watergate.
    Ted Kennedy: 1973: Impeach Nixon if he refuses to give White House tapes.
    Ted Kennedy: 1980: I want to be president to bring sense of restoration.
Technology
    Dwight Eisenhower: 1957: Sputnik ended "Peace and Prosperity" boosterism.
    Richard Nixon: 1968: Built campaign strategy around controlling television.
    Richard Nixon: 1971: Absolutely no one should hear White House tapes.
War & Peace
    Harry S Truman: 1949: No military response to Communist victory in China.
    Harry S Truman: Soviet Union is animated by a new fanatic faith.
    John F. Kennedy: Avoid mistake of WWII by stopping Soviet advance in Europe.
    John F. Kennedy: Pouring money into jungles of Indochina is self-destructive.
    John F. Kennedy: 1962: Supported anti-Diem coup as means to win Vietnam War.
    Richard Nixon: Operation Vulture: Nuke Vietnam if North overruns South.
    Richard Nixon: Supported 1960 CIA-backed invasion of Cuba.
    Richard Nixon: 1965: If we give up Vietnam, Pacific Ocean becomes a Red Sea.
    Ted Kennedy: 1969: Get out of Southeast Asia lock, stock, and barrel.
Welfare & Poverty
    John F. Kennedy: New Deal contributes to end of capitalism in America.


The above quotations are from Kennedy & Nixon
The Rivalry That Shaped Postwar America
by Chris Matthews.


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