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American Maelstrom: The 1968 Election and the Politics of Division
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American Maelstrom: The 1968 Election and the Politics of Division

4.27  ·  Rating details ·  128 ratings  ·  20 reviews
In January of 1965, Lyndon Baines Johnson delivered his inaugural address as president from the steps of the U.S. Capital and announced his vision for an America that would soon see "an end to poverty and racial injustice." Johnson had been elected by a landslide over the conservative Barry Goldwater and, bolstered by the "liberal consensus," economic prosperity, and a ...more
Hardcover, 448 pages
Published May 4th 2016 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published April 1st 2016)
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Rob Neyer
Apr 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
If you want to know what happened in '68, this is probably your best bet, as Cohen's exhaustively researched the events leading up to the election. I think my only reservations are about the short chapter covering everything that's happened in American politics *since* '68, as those events are probably too complex to be fairly summarized in so few pages. Again, though, if you want to know about the presidential candidates in '68 and the election itself, this is outstanding work.
Chris Jaffe
Jun 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This was a great book. Even though I knew a lot about this election, I still found the book informative, insightful - and also easy to read (which is never a bad thing).

Cohen's point is that a lot of current American political rhetoric and division got kicked off in 1968. In many ways, it created a political earthquake that we're still living with today. GOP moderates and liberals went into terminal freefall. The South and blue collar workers in general began swinging away from the Democrats.
...more
Paul Brewer
Sep 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is an excellent read for anyone interested in traditional-style political history. Cohen keeps the narrative moving, even when he engages in more analytical passages, and his portraits of the main characters (those who ran for president) are quite engaging, even when the subjects are unpleasant characters.

Having got the praise out of the way, let me turn to one critique and one observation. I have a major disagreement with Cohen’s interpretation. The big disagreement is that his own
...more
Bill Manzi
Dec 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
American Maelstrom

Every four years we hear that the upcoming Presidential election is the most important in history, and there is no question that each one carries special ramifications for the country. As we gaze back we can identify, with the benefit of some hindsight, key “pivot points” in history. The Presidential election of 1968 most certainly falls into that category. Michael A. Cohen has written a book that takes us back through the tumultuous political year of 1968 that did so much to
...more
Kieran
Aug 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
For anyone who has a passing interest in American politics, you should read this. Even if you know the main events of 1968, Michael Cohen does a really good job of setting them into context of how they shaped the next half a century of American political life. It also benefits from having been written over the last five or six years, meaning it is immune from the tendency of many lazy think pieces that appeared in 2016, comparing it to 1968.

And what an election 1968 was. By the end of it, a US
...more
Brian
Oct 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
American Maelstrom takes a look at the election of 1968 and shows that the major divergence of the Democrat and Republican parties took place at this moment in history. The confluence of Great Society politics and the Vietnam war would fracture the democratic party removing the power base of the political machines and the unions to the various groups that would center around socialism, environmentalism, the peace movement and a variety of causes that would become the Hallmark of the modern ...more
Hallie Cantor
Nov 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Riveting account of 1968, a pivotal year in all respects. The author provides lucid, linear background of each candidate -- Nixon, Rockefeller, Kennedy, Humphrey, McCarthy, Wallace, et al -- with historical detail starting from the idyllic Camelot of the early decade to the bitter anti-war protests and rise of a militant counterculture. It was not politics as usual.

The author shows a liberal bias in describing Johnson's "Great Society," as he blames the Democrats' failures on the Vietnam War,
...more
Robert
Dec 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Did the election of 1968, contested by Humphrey, Nixon and Wallace, encapsulate the division in the American polity that remain today? This is the question American Maelstrom seeks to address. Michael Cohen's work places the 1968 election in the context of the rapid political and social changes following Johnson's overwhelming electoral victory over Goldwater in 1964, the assasinations of King and Kennedy, the urban disturbances and rising crime rates and the war in Viet Nam.

One of Mr. Cohen';s
...more
Neil Bhatiya
May 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
While it's cliche to say that U.S. Presidential elections are turning points in American history, it would be hard to argue that the 1968 election wasn't one of the most influential of the 20th Century. In this well-researched, far-ranging, and often funny book, Michael Cohen assesses the cast of characters who sought the highest office in the land during one of the most turbulent years in our history.

In the first months of the year, Americans saw their country's major military involvement in
...more
J Earl
Jul 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
American Maelstrom by Michael A. Cohen does a great job of presenting the 1968 election in the larger context of what that historical moment means to American history. For those of us who still hold strong feelings about the election Cohen manages to avoid very much in the way of partisanship so that the story and its aftermath comes through clearly.

This work does what a good political history book should do: take the information most of us (those old enough to remember it and/or those who have
...more
Emylie
Feb 17, 2017 marked it as to-read
Shelves: started
DNF but will pick up again
Peter M. B.
A compelling re-telling of the major political events in the US Presidential election of 1968. It is fascinating to see how it all played out in chronological time and not just see the isolated snippets of LBJ's withdrawal, MLK and RFK assassinations, and the Dem convention police riots. Reading this allowed me to put those infamous events in their proper political context at last.

About the only weakness of the book is its attempt to link the aftermath of that election to current politics. This
...more
Debra
Jul 31, 2016 rated it really liked it
If you are interested in how our political situation arrived at where it is today, read this book.
For me the greatest insight was that data indicates that had Bobby Kennedy lived, he would not have won the presidency in '68. He may not have even won the party nomination. Interesting stuff, not shaded by the murder of RFK, but based on where the power rested in Democratic party actions in 1968.
I found this book a compelling read.
Mshelton50
A wonderful look at the anguished 1968 presidential race. Cohen shows how the old New Deal coalition of northern liberals and southern working-class voters came apart in '68, largely over issues of race, and how this watershed election set the template for virtually every presidential election since. Very compelling read.
Tobias
Oct 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Really exceptional political - as in heavily focused on campaigns - history of the 1968 election. Shows how it cemented the political coalitions that dominate American politics up to the present day. The chapter on George Wallace alone was worth the price of admission.
Bill Zarges
May 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
It reminds me of this election cycle and the immortal words of Jack Webb:"The story you have just seen is true but the names were changed to protect the innocent." I'd strongly recommend this book to any of you interested in politics and/or the 2016 election.
Craig
Jul 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
There's no sugar coating here. It's a well-researched, factually driven recap of one of the most pivotal elections in American history. It has a clear thesis that it proves again and again, but reminds us, sometimes shockingly, that everything old is new again.
Gerald Friedman
Jul 24, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good book that overstates

Book raises interesting issues about direction of US politics since 1968 but it is wrong to suggest that political gridlock was locked in place by that year's turmoil.
Marianne
Jun 15, 2016 rated it it was ok
An interesting review of the 1968 elections but ends up as a dull recounting.
Marcus
Aug 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
A really well written and fascinating book about the '68. A must-read for anyone interested in American politics as the similarities between the '68 and '16 campaign are plain as day in this account.
Cora
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Bill Cameron
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rdh
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Dec 25, 2016
Robert Cohen
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Jun 11, 2016
Perry
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Joel
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Michael
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