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The Making of the President 1960 (The Making of the President #1)

4.15  ·  Rating Details ·  5,540 Ratings  ·  96 Reviews
The greatest political story ever told—the epic clash between John F. Kennedy and Richard M. Nixon, as captured in Theodore White's dramatic and groundbreaking chronicle

The Making of the President 1960 is the book that revolutionized—even created—modern political journalism. Granted intimate access to all parties involved, Theodore White crafted an almost mythic story of t
ebook, 438 pages
Published November 3rd 2009 by HarperCollins e-books (first published January 1st 1961)
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Erik Graff
Apr 28, 2008 Erik Graff rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: US citizens
Recommended to Erik by: Einar Graff
During the televised presidential debates Father let me stay up to watch. His television viewing, his subscriptions and his taking me along to attend village council meetings made me interested in politics at an early age. Thus, when it was announced that Jack Kennedy would be speaking one morning at the Meadowdale Shopping Center in Kane County, I didn't go to school. Instead, I walked over to where the crowd, a big one, was milling.

Being small, it was easy to slip among the legs of the grownup
This book probably deserves another star, but the last hundred pages were a real slog. White writes beautifully, but it's hard not to notice his major Man Crush on JFK. He's new, he's exciting, he dresses well, etc. It's no wonder that Jackie approached White over the whole "Camelot" thing, because that's exactly what you see between the lines. Surprisingly, this doesn't burden the book, since White's treatment of Nixon is sympathetic. Probably the most sympathetic I've read. And since the book ...more
Aaron Million
This is the first book (of an eventual four) that White wrote to chronicle a presidential election. This is the only one of the four to have won any award (Pulitzer Prize). By the time White wrote this book, he was already a well-known and respected journalist. But the success of The Making of the President series is now what he is most remembered for.

White's strength here is his innate ability to paint such vivid pictures of the personalities and locations involved. His chapters describing the
The Making of The President 1960 earned the author, Theodore H. White, a Pulitzer Prize in 1962. In the book, White, a journalist, follows the candidates from the moment they made the decision to enter the race for the Presidency until Kennedy was elected.

In the 1970’s I had White’s The Making of the President 1968, the third of 4 books in the series. I was impressed with book when I read so decided with being on the doorstep of the 1916 election that I would read the original book in the series
Frank Stein

I really wish I could recommend this book. First of all, it's everywhere lauded as a classic; the first real book on an American presidential campaign, the one every journalist from Joe McGinniss to Heilemann and Halperin tries to replicate. It also won the Pulitzer, though of course Joe Kennedy had strong-armed the committee into giving his son the prize just three years early, so I don't doubt that he would do the same for an adulatory book about him in 1961.

And that's probably the largest pro
May 15, 2012 Bob rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is THE classic campaign history of the Kennedy-Nixon contest of 1960 (the first presidential election I remember--I saw John Kennedy in a motorcade that passed through my hometown). While some things about presidential campaigns have changed, one thing that White portrays well is the grueling character of a national political campaign beginning with primaries through a November general election. If anything, it is even more grueling today. White comments how media organization would rotate ...more
Buck Jones
This is the classic, original political reporting of a Presidential campaign. What is telling about this book, is that in the era when it was written, political reporters didn't really do too much reporting on the private lives of the candidates. Also, Teddy White had a biased view of the Kennedy's - he was treated with an insider view of the campaign because he was essentially an insider, co-opted by the candidate early on. As a result, this reads a bit dull, although I learned a bit about some ...more
Apr 03, 2012 Richard rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Who says homework isn't fun? This book was required reading for a Political Science course I took in college, when the events recounted in it were only a few years old. Theodore White succeeded in writing the definitive account of the 1960 Presidential campaign as well as establishing a whole genre of political campaign reporting with this book. He had been given complete authorization to travel and report on the doings of the two ex-Navy World War II officers who were first elected to Congress ...more
Mar 29, 2009 Jason rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the seminal work on the Nixon-Kennedy campaign of 1960. White won the pullitzer prize and went on to create a cottage industry of campaign analysis books. Its interesting to note, that this is the first of these kinds of books. While there have been lots of 3rd party campaign analysis books written since (and a couple about the 1960 election), this niche of prose was pretty empty until this book.

The interesting thing about the work is that it is written in a third-person, narrative styl
Jul 02, 2011 Robert rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

What a gripping history of a presidential campaign, and of an era.

The book was written in 1961, when the Kennedy vs. Nixon election was still very recent memory. It was written by a political reporter who covered both campaigns. Because of this, you get a lot of behind-the-scenes explanation of strategy, of the personalities involved, and of the U.S. as a whole at the end of the 1950s.

Eisenhower was just wrapping up 8 popular years as President. Dick Nixon (the Vice President) was considered
Jan 22, 2017 Kevin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It’s said by some that journalism is the first draft of history. The concept deserves a lot of credit, with the caveat that journalism inherently lacks the perspective, essential to much great history, that is lent by the passage of time. The equation of journalism and history is now even more complicated by the vast complexity of modern news sources and the instantaneous manner in which events and images are presented to us by social media. These phenomena give information the quality of gossip ...more
Nov 25, 2013 Ben rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The original "Game Change", almost a half century before the colorful McCain/Palin/Obama/Clinton campaign. This book is a must for political junkies. Like 2008's Game Change, this book was written shortly after the 1960 election and includes extensive insights from embedded journalists. You step into the inner campaign sanctums of JFK and Nixon, journey with them around the country, watch the strategies unfold, hear the strain in their weary voices, and wait on tenterhooks for each electoral vot ...more
Jan 10, 2013 Hasan rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I decided to read this book because of it's very high average review rating. I thought it would be the equivalent of Halperin and Heilemann's Game Change, that would it be fast moving and would cover a lot of ground. I was wrong on all counts. It was full of needless information and description, barely moved at all and didn't provide me with a whole lot of new information. A 200 page book would've been a lot more interesting.
Oct 18, 2009 Richard rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: politics
This book was apparently fascinating when it was written in 1961, and is still fascinating now, but for somewhat different reasons. It's like opening a time capsule regarding the 1960 election and seeing how things have changed in so many ways. One example: Hubert Humphrey was the first candidate to enter the race, and he didn't do so until as late as December 30, 1959! Today, anyone waiting until just over ten months before Election Day would be hopelessly far behind.
Thomas D Sinex
Apr 24, 2012 Thomas D Sinex rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gave-up-on-it

Looked forward to reading this for years and was so disappointed by the extremely biased tone and outlook of the author. Apparently a certain portion of the press was so blinded by their idolatry of JFK that nothing negative or even human could be written about him...
Jul 16, 2012 Kid rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
interesting subject matter, but ultimately unreadable. At times painful to plough through another 10 pages of names and their duties.
Apr 28, 2012 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a terrific book written before the Kennedy assassination about the 1960 election and the early-part of the Kennedy administration. It's both a character study of Kennedy and Nixon and a wide-ranging commentary on the problems and demography of the country at the time.

It's tempting to say "the more things change, the more things stay the same," but it's also incredible to note some of the easy bias that dominated only 52 years ago, and the occasionally charming chauvinism with which it's
Randy Fonner
Feb 03, 2017 Randy Fonner rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Oct 15, 2016 Heath rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The best book about presidential campaign politics I've ever read. White meticulously dissects all of the factors that make a president - demographic shifts, the state of the economy, current foreign affairs - and provides the definitive account of how John F. Kennedy became America's 35th. A particularly sobering read during our current political cycle.
Jan 12, 2013 Ramsey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
p. 292-293 "If, them, the TV debates did little to advance the reasonable disucssion of issues that is the dream of unblooded political scientists, what did they do? what they did best was to give the voters of a great democracy a living portrait of the two men under stress and let the voters decide, by instinct and emotion, which style and pattern of behavior under stress they preferred in their leader.The political roots of this tribal sense of the whole go as far back as the ROman Senate, or ...more
Tom Schulte
Aug 30, 2011 Tom Schulte rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, politics
Really a dense and dry, textbook-like read full of an orgy of statistics, personages and granular facts, there is still much enlightenment in the reading. For some reason I previously though of the Kennedy election as a landslide referendum on a fading conservative America at the threshold of the progressive, liberal 60s. This book paints a much more complex picture where the election, on the popular and thus fundamental scale, was a squeaker in Kennedy’s favor. (“…this margin of popular vote is ...more
Sep 21, 2016 Fay rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this as soon as it was published ... I'm guessing when I say I read it in 1964, hoping that the publication date was before that! I was a college student when President Kennedy was killed. I loved him and his family and mourned for a long time as did many people. I also set out to read everything that I could about him and his administration. As books appeared, I read them. This is one I truly enjoyed. Theodore White had a great knack for writing about campaigns. I wonder how he would des ...more
Feb 07, 2014 Ben rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Pulitzer Non-Fiction - 1962 - Having completed my reading of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction books I have move on to the non-fiction prize - a project that shouldn't take me as long considering the award started in 1962 instead of 1918. I've decided too, that I'll read them in order since it is based on knowledge and not as much on style.
The first is the Making of the President 1960 - Theodore White was one of the first "embedded" journalists and made an attempt to write the novel from both the
Stephanie Patterson

This is the book that launched the thousands of campaign books that have appeared after successive elections. There is much that is good in this book. What it lacks is the contemporary wink of irony. We don't stand in awe of polliticans anymore.
This is Jack Kennedy seen before we found out about all those women and before we heard that Sam Giancana said to Judith Campbell Exner, the girlfriend he shard with the President, "Your boyfriend wouldn't have been elected without me." It's Nixon years b
Jan 13, 2016 Scott rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
Fascinating and well-written book about one of the most interesting and significant presidential elections of the 20th century. Written very shortly after the election itself, and the events are painted with the detailed immediacy of recent memory, rather that the bold but faded brush of history. Author Theodore H. White does have a strong sense of the sweep of history, and a keen (almost prescient) understanding of what issues and trends would be important decades in the future.

Among the major
Jan 14, 2008 Doug rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this book some 12 years ago and count it as my all time favorite non-fiction book. Because 2008 has already shaped up to be the most exciting Presidential race in a century, I plan to dust off this classic and read it again.

I read this book in high school and loved Theodore H. White's tough-guy/salty journalist take on the great figures of his day. Some of his descriptions of John and Bobby Kennedy, Richard Nixon, and the Kennedy Brain Trust are still vivid in my mind.

Some of the wisdom I
Tress Huntley
Dec 11, 2016 Tress Huntley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating examination of an eerily familiarly shaped Presidential election. Nixon, the candidate of the incumbent party, should have been able to sail right into winning this race following in the successful footsteps of two-term Eisenhower. Although he lost the popular vote by a pretty slim margin, he actually blew the opportunity on a spectacular level. So much faulty judgment, so much mistrust. And the rest is history. I really hope I can find time in the future to read White's other electi ...more
Dan Cohen
Dec 19, 2012 Dan Cohen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Tremendous book. Based on his experience as a journalist following the election campaigns, the author looks at the candidates for the 1960 presidential election through the selection processes and the election itself. He compares their characters, approaches, staff, strategies, etc.

I found the sections on the candidate selection processes most interesting - for the Democrats: the primary battles between Kennedy and Humphrey, the Johnson camp, the ever-present shadow of the Adlai Stevenson non-ca
Sep 02, 2012 Kate rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Alex M. Parker
Started out a bit slow, but now I'm really enjoying this look back at the campaign trail in 1960.

Things that were really different back then:

1. The entire South was solidly Democratic (though the author predicts the rise of the Republican Party there, basically over racial divisions)

2. Primaries were less important and much of a campaign's focus was on the Convention and the horsetrading/dealmaking that would happen there with the big city mayors (i.e. Richard Daley) and East Coast governors who
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Theodore Harold White was an American political journalist, historian, and novelist, best known for his accounts of the 1960, 1964, 1968, and 1972 presidential elections.
White became one of Time magazine's first foreign correspondents, serving in East Asia and later as a European correspondent. He is best known for his accounts of two presidential elections, The Making of the President, 1960 (1961
More about Theodore H. White...

Other Books in the Series

The Making of the President (5 books)
  • The Making of the President 1964
  • The Making of the President 1968
  • The Making of the President 1972
  • America in Search of Itself: The Making of the President 1956-1980

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“Every American election summons the individual voter to weigh the past against the future.” 2 likes
“A genuine primary is a fight within the family of the party - and, like any family fight, is apt to be more bitter and leave more enduring wounds than battle with the November enemy.” 1 likes
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