Matthews, the news anchor of the televison show America's Talking,
offers an on-target dual portait of rival aspirants for the
presidency, both eventually successful in their quest for the
prize, both destined to end tragically. Richard M. Nixon and John
F. Kennedy, Navy veterans of WW II, were elected as members of the
House of Representatives' freshman class of 1946. At first they
were friendly rivals: Matthews writes touchingly of their cordial
personal relationship as colleagues (often sickly during his Senate
career, Kennedy received regular hospital visits from the
sympathetic Nixon). Nixon rose first, winning the vice presidency
under Dwight Eisenhower (Kennedy cheered Nixon's rise in a personal
note to the new vice president) and building a national reputation,
The bitter and close-fought campaign of 1960 transformed the
relationship between the two men: In the now legendary televised
debates, Nixon came off as colorless and tired, while the handsome,
relaxed Kennedy impressed viewers with his wit and command of
detail. As the author shows, the exchanges between the two rivals,
who were never far apart on policy matters, became abusive and
personal as Election Day approached. In the end, Nixon lost the
popular poll by little more than 100,000 votes. Bitter about
alleged ballot theft in Texas, Illinois, and elsewhere, Nixon was
convinced for the rest of his life that he'd been ambushed by the
Kennedy machine. Nixon was eclipsed during Camelot's thousand days:
even after Kennedy's 1963 assassination, he was haunted by the
ghosts of Camelot and, more concretely, by the political prospects
of Kennedy's brothers. Succumbing to paranoia even after his
election to the presidency in 1968, Nixon conducted covert
surveillances and smear campaigns against Ted Kennedy, Kennedy
family allies, and other political opponents, a propensity that
contributed to his eventual downfall and disgrace. Matthews doesn't
break new ground, but be draws a striking picture of the
destruction of a political friendship and its consequences for the
country. (Kirkus Reviews)
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
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