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Anything for a Vote: Dirty Tricks, Cheap Shots, and October Surprises in U.S. Presidential Campaigns

3.73  ·  Rating details ·  375 ratings  ·  71 reviews
A History of Mud-Slinging, Character Assassination, And Other Election Strategies
Today’s political pundits express shock and disappointment when candidates resort to negative campaigning. But history reveals that smear campaigns are as American as apple pie. Anything for a Vote is an illustrated look at 200-plus years of dirty tricks and bad behavior in presidential ele
Paperback, 304 pages
Published September 6th 2007 by Quirk Books (first published August 1st 2007)
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Average rating 3.73  · 
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 ·  375 ratings  ·  71 reviews

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Start your review of Anything for a Vote: Dirty Tricks, Cheap Shots, and October Surprises in U.S. Presidential Campaigns
Jun 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Matt by: BAM Endlessly Booked
Shelves: buddy-read
Looking for some lighter reading fare and pairing it with a buddy read, this book seemed the perfect mix. Joseph Cummins has compiled this wonderfully educational and entertaining piece that seeks to examine each of the presidential elections in US history (up to 2008, around the time of publication). By exploring these elections, Cummins seeks to determine just how dirty and ruthless the campaigns turned out to be. His hypothesis: campaigns have long been dirty affairs and while the sleaze fact ...more
Mar 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
What can I say? I love Presidential trivia, and this covers every Presidential election America ever had up until 2008. It's pretty biased toward the newer elections (probably for the simple reason that there's more information available), and the illustrations are goofy, but the information is good and quite easily read. I enjoyed it. ...more
Aug 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
This will become a popular nonfiction title for both young adult and adult readers. Those who have been fans of Georgia Bragg's titles that share information in a humorous way in easily digestible chapters with a uniquely beneficial layout that includes some illustrations, various sidenotes, highlights, and quotes.

For this title, the subtitle says it all and Cummins has does a superb job in organizing the information he gathered complete with some folksy humor to understand the lengths politici
Jill Hutchinson
Apr 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: american-history
What fun......but it is the kind of book that makes you laugh in order not to cry. Politics in all its ugliness and it hasn't changed since the beginning (if one discounts Washington who didn't have an opponent). The author writes with humor and is fairly unbiased as he dissects each Presidential election....the boring (very few) and the battles (most). Lots of new information and reminders of things that happened during more recent runs for the highest seat in the land. Currently we talk about ...more
Dec 15, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: borrowed
This book is full of interesting information, but is seriously marred by awful editing. It mentioned "Mr. Roger's sweaters" (his last name was Rogers, not Roger). It referred to the shootings of the protesters at "Kent State College" (while it was known as "Kent State College" for a brief period, it has been Kent State University since 1935). Most damningly, they referred to an electoral runnerup whose main campaign position was stopping slavery as being "too radically proslavery".

But he did com
Jan 31, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: history
Historically interesting--Cummins traces the evolution of presidential election politics over the full course of USA history. However, the type is difficult to read at times (the spacing is weird) and the pages are the thickness of a postcard, so it's heavy and uncomfortable to read. A decent editor would have been helpful as well, since there are frequent awkward sentences and grammar errors. In web page format this would get 3.5 stars but due to poor construction and editing, I rate it lower h ...more
even though this was interesting and well written i gave up on it because i already know some people running for the office of president have shaky morals. i read most of the twentieth century listings, was afraid to back to washington, jefferson, monroe, adams etc.
a bit of a sad book.
Doreen Petersen
Jul 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
Really interesting read I received from Netgalley. Was very well written and informative. Would recommend this to all.
Ronald Koltnow
Feb 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
We just had an ugly election, everything from FBI and Russian interference to a candidate who assigned everyone demeaning nicknames (Little Marco, Crooked Hillary). Many may think that this was the cruelest election ever. It was not, as Joseph Cummins proves in his history of dirty tricks and bad actions in U.S. Presidential campaigns. In 1844, Whig candidate Henry Clay attended a session of The House of Representatives, where his Democratic rival James K. Polk was the Speaker; Clay stood up in ...more
Bob Cantrell
Dec 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
After this election I thought I would see how past elections for president went. Now I knew about some of the races and how dirty they were, but there were plenty of election races to look at. It seems that even from the beginning the idea of a civil display by the candidates was only a dream. Now this book doesn't go into great detail of each campaign, but there is just enough to make you think the candidates had no scruples when it came to what was fair. One thing I was watching for was the au ...more
Herb Hastings
Feb 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is an entertaining, informative, and ultimately depressing book. Democracy really is a dirty business and there were no good old days. This compendium of dirty tricks and lies is well worth reading. However, it drives home the point that American presidential politics is no more nasty today than it has been in the past. Their opponents described John Adams as a hermaphrodite, Martin van Buren as a transvestite, Andrew Jackson as a murderous adulterer, and James Buchanan as being so inept he ...more
Apr 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
Covers every presidential election from 1789 and thoroughly enjoyable if you're bit of a political junkie (guilty as charged!). Naturally, each election is not covered in depth - usually around 12 pages, but fewer still for some of the less 'famous' stoushes such as Reagan vs Mondale, Clinton vs Dole. Pretty good overviews however of races such as Truman / Dewey, Kennedy / Nixon, Nixon / McGovern, Bush / Clinton / Perot and Obama / McCain (the book was written before Trump / Clinton, but would h ...more
Kathy Myres
Nov 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

I wondered if the current campaign was a new phenomena, everyone commenting that they had seen nothing like it. Well I was shocked to discover that the prospect of power brings out the worst in political spheres and almost no one is above the fray!
Lisa Hunt
Mar 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
Great little overview of all of the US presidential elections from the beginning, through the 2012 election. Didn't seem skewed to any particular party, most were equal opportunity train wrecks! Easy and fun read. ...more
Marcia King
Brief, sarcastic

The title alerts one to the tone of this book about U.S. elections. Although somewhat accurate, it just left a bad taste in my mouth.
Mark Mears
May 05, 2019 rated it liked it
Okay, but not fantastic.
Douglas Reedy
Oct 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Good book. Plenty of humor and facts.
Jul 30, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: adult
Working through my Goodreads 'to read's finally! This wasn't bad! I picked up a lot of easy 'did you know' facts to share at parties and whatever. It's short and conversational. ...more
Roberta Wall
Aug 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
An entertaining history of presidential elections. Lots os infoI didn’t know. Seems like almost all of them were somewhat sleazy.
Rozey H
Jul 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
Considering that the past is so influential on the present and future, reflecting on previous presidential elections is critical to predicting and understanding those trends that will shape 2020. Thus, this book, which details every presidential election hilariously, is very informative.

In this book, there is deep analysis of each presidential election, covering those mudslinging means and tactics that were used, and still, are by presidential candidates and staffers to win elections. Such tacti
Amanda Bump
Feb 22, 2017 rated it liked it
As to be expected with any book with a running "sleaze-o-meter," this is not a serious scholarly work, nor does it pretend to be. Since the book covers every election up until 2012, it does tend to over simplify so the more I knew about an election the less I enjoyed that election's section. But the simplification allowed more space to cover the slurs and insults that made the book such a fun read. My biggest complaint is that the section on the election of 1800 didn't contain my favorite electo ...more
Jul 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley
I have to give an embarrassing preface to this review: I never paid much attention in my American History classes. Meaning, I basically memorized the information for the tests then immediately forgot it. As far as my brain is concerned, the US Presidents go in this order: Washington, some Adams, Jeffersons and Jacksons, Lincoln, big blank spot, Roosevelt, some randos I recognize the name of but can't place, Daddy Bush, Clinton, Bush Jr., Obama.

So much ouch. I'm going to go cry in a corner now wi
Apr 30, 2008 rated it it was ok
I really thought I would enjoy this book more than I did. It certainly has some interesting stories to tell; for those of us still living with some rage over the contested or questionable elections of the Bush years, it's in some ways comforting and in some ways maddening to know that we are not unique in this American conundrum. Whether somewhat light-hearted (the printed handbills accusing candidates of wearing women's clothes) or the grotesque (the stories of voter fraud in the 1870s that per ...more
Aug 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books
Thinking back to 2016, when Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton were vying for the presidency it would be easy to suggest it was one of the most low-down, dirt-slinging and downright unpleasant election contests in recent memory or perhaps in US history.

Cummins' book aims to analyse each and every election in US history based on how sleazy, underhanded and unethical it's candidates acted and the result, for me, was the realisation that the more things change, the more things stay the same.

As someo
Paul Lunger
Dec 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
In "Anything for a Vote", Joseph Cummins takes a look back at the history of US Presidential elections from George Washington in 1789 through Bush/Kerry in 2004. In it he does a quick overview of the good, the bad & at times the scandalous events surrounding the election of what was then our nation's 43 chief executives. The elections themselves are also rated on a sleaze meter from 1-10 depending on just how dirty the campaigns got. Additionally, he points out some of the not so well known fact ...more
Jun 09, 2008 rated it really liked it
As the other reviewers have said, this was a quick, perversely fun read. The book does a good job of showing you the types of people who have been involved with making political campaigns mean and dirty since pretty much the beginning. Political weasels--Rove may be the biggest, but he wasn't the first. An added bonus was that it has led me to want to find out more about some of our lesser known presidents.

And, it has a great anecdote about how badass Teddy Roosevelt was. Someone shot him on the
David V.
Oct 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
Received in a drawing at Goodreads. Started 11-22-15. Finished 11-30-15. Excellent book about the nasty comments made between presidential candidates or their campaigns going back to Washington. Along the way you learn about what was going on in the US during these election years. If you think the stuff being thrown now is rude and crude, you should read about the campaigns from many years ago. Nothing new under the sun! Book should be required reading in Poli Sci classes, Ethics, and Interperso ...more
David Peters
Dec 12, 2010 rated it really liked it
Why I read It
It was referenced in an article I read.

The Good
A fun little book covering all the US Presidential campaigns. Chocked full of fun facts and trivia presented in a light style.

The Bad
A little too light at times. He dismisses everything as silliness that opposing parties said about each other in order to get elected. I wonder how much was true and how much was just politics as usual.

The Ugly (my opinion)
Anyone interested in political elections should read this fun book. It also puts to
Apr 15, 2012 rated it liked it
Are political campaigns too mean today? Want to go back to the "good old days" when people were civil?

This book tackles such questions and answers: presidential campaigns have never been civil and there were no good old days. Well, maybe the first election when Washington ran unopposed. But that's about it.

This book is an interesting read. It is good for a skim as after a while it gets redundant, reading about election after election. Skimming it gives you the gist: people have always been vici
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Joseph Cummins is the author of numerous books, including Anything for a Vote: Dirty Tricks, Cheap Shots and October Surprises in U.S. Presidential Elections; A Bloody History of the World, which won the 2010 Our History Project Gold Medal Award; and the forthcoming Ten Tea Parties: Patriotic Protests That History Forgot. He lives in Maplewood, New Jersey, with his wife and daughter.

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