The Best Year of Their Lives: Kennedy, Nixon, and Johnson in 1948: Learning the Secrets of Power

Publication date: March 15, 2005
Publisher: Basic Books

From the publisher:

In 1948, John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, and Richard Nixon were all ambitious young congressmen at pivotal points in their lives. LBJ was in a desperate Senate race, running against a more popular candidate. Campaigning frantically by helicopter across Texas, LBJ won only with the help of corrupt political bosses, whose illegal ballot-stuffing put “Landslide Lyndon” into the Senate by 87 votes. At the same time, Nixon was having his first meetings with Whittaker Chambers, the witness in the Alger Hiss trial that would make Nixon a national figure and lead to his selection as Eisenhower’s running mate four years later. And Kennedy was still recovering from the near-fatal attack of Addison’s disease he had suffered the previous year. From that point on, he would conceal the truth about his health, just as he concealed his reckless personal life. In all three politicians, Morrow finds a streak of amorality and ruthlessness-each believed that the rules didn’t apply to him. Lies of one kind or another-lies they told or exposed-would propel each of them to power; lies would also undo LBJ and Nixon’s presidencies and, ultimately, tarnish JFK’s reputation.Morrow also tells the story of America in 1948, when it, too, was learning the secrets of power, and coming to grips with the vast changes of the postwar world. For readers of Robert Caro and Robert Dallek, The Best Year of Their Lives offers a fresh look at a crucial turning point in the lives of three presidents, by one of America’s most observant and thoughtful journalists.

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