Kennedy & Nixon: The Rivalry that Shaped Postwar America

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9781451644289: Kennedy & Nixon: The Rivalry that Shaped Postwar America
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In this compelling, smart, and well-researched dual biography, Chris Matthews shows how the contest between the charismatic John F. Kennedy and the talented yet haunted Richard Nixon propelled America toward Vietnam and Watergate.

John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon each dreamed of becoming the great young leader of their age. First as friends, then as bitter enemies, they were linked by a historic rivalry that changed both them and their country. Fresh, entertaining, and revealing, Kennedy & Nixon reveals that the early fondness between the two men—Kennedy, for example, told a trusted friend that if he didn’t receive the Democratic nomination in 1960, he would vote for Nixon—degenerated into distrust and bitterness. Using White House tapes, this book exposes Richard Nixon’s dread of a Kennedy “restoration” in 1972 drove the dark deeds of Watergate.

"Matthews tells his stories well, and Americans have a seemingly bottomless need to have these stories retold" (The New York Times Book Review).

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Christopher Matthews, the Washington bureau chief for the San Francisco Examiner and a former aide to Tip O'Neill, offers a fascinating look at the connections between the two most well-known politicians in the last 40 years. He traces the symmetries of their beginnings--both were elected to the House of Representatives in 1946 and assigned to the same committee--as well as their similar thirst for power. While both men's rise and fall, events that had profound effects on America, have been well chronicled, Matthews' book is one of the few, if not only, that places the two in parallel historical context.

From the Publisher:

First as friends, then as bitter enemies, John Kennedy and Richard Nixon shared a rivalry that had a dramatic impact on American history and that has never been understood until now. One would become the most dashing figure of the post-World War II era, the other would live into his eighties, haunted and consumed by the rivalry. In Kennedy and Nixon, Christopher Matthews offers a fresh and surprising look at these two political giants, offering a stunning portrait that will change the way we think about both of them. John Kennedy and Richard Nixon shared a dream of being the great young leader of their age. Starting as congressmen in the class of 1946, the two men developed a friendship and admiration for each other that would last for more than a decade. But what drove history, Matthews shows, was the enmity between these two towering figures whose 1960 presidential contest would set the nation's bitter course for years to come. In this startling dual portrait - a modern-day Amadeus, with Nixon as the talented, frustrated, always outdone Salieri to Kennedy's Mozart, the charismatic genius - Matthews shows how the early fondness between the two men (Kennedy told a trusted friend that if he didn't receive the Democratic nomination in 1960, he would vote for Nixon) degenerated into distrust and paranoia, the same emotions that, in the early 1970's, ravaged the nation. Christopher Mattew's revealing book sheds new light on this complicated relationship and the role that it played in shaping America's history.

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