Author: Lawrence O'Donnell
Rating: 5 Stars
Review By: Shana
There are books that you must work your way through, those you think you should read because they talk about something important and require a serious outlay of effort. O'Donnell has written a book that manages that wonderful alchemy of being a serious piece of historic and political research on an important time period that is a compelling read. His writing propels the story forward and it never feels like work as the pages fly by.
The story is a broad one, with many moving parts, baroque rules, Machiavellian maneuvers, towering egos, dearly held beliefs, ruthless ambition, and existential consequences. It is the story of the 1968 presidential election and what it meant for the country in the short-term and American politics in the long-term.
Besides setting the stage and escorting the reader through the layered events of that year, O'Donnell also illuminates the long shadow the campaigns of 1968 cast into the future. In very real ways, 1968 was the end of the Republican party as it had been known (with the liberal wing of it forever silenced and forced into uncomfortable absorption into the Democratic party) and a tectonic shift in how elections would be waged (a shift that feels like it may have culminated in the 2016 election of Trump). It is stunning to read of the some of the tactics deployed in 1968 that have become the norm now. More striking are the obvious parallels between the campaigns of George Wallace (running as a third-party candidate, uncensored and unabashed) and Trump.
With the individuals and movements at work 1968 was a combustible year. The wrangling behind the scenes, the fluctuating roll call of candidates, the will he or won't he run questions (from RFK to Rockefeller to Reagan), all led to a year of roiling unrest and the feeling that the 1968 election was something more important. Even knowing the outcome, readers will find themselves at the edge of their seat, seeing political giants at a moment in time before subsequent stories overcame their legacies. It is a thrilling story in and of itself, but it is further elevated by how the historic events have ripple effects even now. Highly recommended.
My love of reading was sparked in 3rd grade by the promise of personal pan pizzas via the BOOK IT! Program. Hmmmm... any chance that someone might give adults free food for reading? Asking for a friend...