Cover image for Whistlestop : my favorite stories from presidential campaign history
Title:
Whistlestop : my favorite stories from presidential campaign history
Edition:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Twelve, 2016.

©2016
ISBN:
9781455540488
Physical Description:
xxi, 439 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Language:
English
Contents:
Part I. Inflection points. 1980: "I am paying for this microphone, Mr. Green" -- 1960: The Catholic candidate -- Part II. Comebacks. 1948: Truman off the cuff -- 1991: Till the last dog dies -- Part III. Collapses. 1988: Dukakis tanks -- 1972: Vote for Muskie or he'll cry -- 1972: Eighteen-day nightmare -- 2003: The Dean scream -- Part IV. Gambits and gambles. 1964: Stop Goldwater -- 2000: The straight talk express -- Part V. Too close to call. 1976: Republicans are people, too -- 1952: Thou shalt not steal -- 1824: The corrupt bargain -- Part VI. Tar and feather -- 1800: Keep your attack dog fed -- 1884: Ma, Ma, where's my Pa? -- 1884: Burn this letter! -- 1840: the birth of umbrage -- Part VII. Crashing the party. 1980: A cure for malaise -- 1968: What kind of a nut is George Wallace?
Abstract:
"Whistlestop tells the human story of nervous gambits hatched in first-floor hotel rooms, failures of will before the microphone, and the cross-country crack-ups of long-planned stratagems. At the bar at the end of a campaign day, these are the stories reporters rehash for themselves and embellish for newcomers. In addition to the familiar tales, Whistlestop is a ride through the American campaign history with one of its most enthusiastic conductors guiding you through the landmarks along the way."--Jacket.
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Summary

Summary

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
From Face the Nation moderator and Slate columnist John Dickerson come the stories behind the stories of the most memorable moments in American presidential campaign history.

The stakes are high. The characters full of striving and ego. Presidential campaigns are a contest for control of power in the most powerful country on earth. The battle of ideas has a clear end, with winners and losers, and along the way there are sharp turning points-primaries, debates, conventions, and scandals that squeeze candidates into emergency action, frantic grasping, and heroic gambles. As Mike Murphy the political strategist put it, "Campaigns are like war without bullets."

WHISTLESTOP tells the human story of nervous gambits hatched in first-floor hotel rooms, failures of will before the microphone, and the cross-country crack-ups of long-planned stratagems. At the bar at the end of a campaign day, these are the stories reporters rehash for themselves and embellish for newcomers. In addition to the familiar tales, WHISTLESTOP also remembers the forgotten stories about the bruising and reckless campaigns of the nineteenth century when the combatants believed the consequences included the fate of the republic itself. Some of the most modern-feeling elements of the American presidential campaign were born before the roads were paved and electric lights lit the convention halls-or there were convention halls at all.

WHISTLESTOP is a ride through the American campaign history with one of its most enthusiastic conductors guiding you through the landmarks along the way.


Reviews 2

New York Review of Books Review

BEING A BEAST: Adventures Across the Species Divide, by Charles Foster. (Picador, $16.) "I want to know what it is like to be a wild thing," Foster, a British naturalist, writes in this dispatch from the animal world. To that end, he stripped naked, ate earthworms, was hunted by bloodhounds and attempted to catch fish with his teeth - all to experience the natural world as do naked Welsh badgers, London foxes and Exmoor otters. WE COULD BE BEAUTIFUL, by Swan Huntley. (Anchor, $16.) With an apartment in the West Village and a hefty trust fund, Catherine has nearly everything - except a husband. When she meets William, they appear to be an ideal match, until a secret threatens to derail the engagement. Huntley's debut novel is equal parts psychological thriller and sendup of New York's social elite. WHISTLESTOP: My Favorite Stories From Presidential Campaign History, by John Dickerson. (Twelve, $16.99.) The author, the political director of CBS News and the host of "Face the Nation," reflects on decades of election cycles: their memorable collapses and comebacks, surprise upsets and victories. As he puts it, "News is what surprises us, which is why the political press always has news: Voters are always undoing our certainties." MISS JANE, by Brad Watson. (Norton, $15.95.) Drawing on the real-life experiences of his great-aunt, Watson tells the story of Miss Jane Chisolm, a woman in rural Mississippi with an isolating and rare birth defect. The condition was an obstacle to sexual or romantic relationships, but Jane sought wholeness through other means. "The complexity and drama of Watson's gorgeous work here is life's as well," our reviewer, Amy Grace Loyd, said. "Sometimes heroism lies in combating our helplessness, sometimes in accepting it." HOW THE POST OFFICE CREATED AMERICA: A History, by Winifred Gallagher. (Penguin, $18.) The post office - established even before the Declaration of Independence was signed - was long a symbol of the United States' commitment to democratic values, ensuring that citizens across all the colonies were informed. Now, with the office in jeopardy, Gallagher urges a reconsideration of its future. GOODNIGHT, BEAUTIFUL WOMEN: Stories, by Anna Noyes. (Grove, $16.) The women in Noyes's collection are tested - by sexual abuse, terminal illness, poverty and young widowhood. In the opening story, a woman struggles to understand her husband's apparent suicide by drowning. "The stories may sound grim," our reviewer, Elizabeth Poliner, said, "but they consistently sparkle with expressive detail."


Library Journal Review

Dickerson's timely compilation of stories from 18 presidential campaigns are rousing moments in campaign history yet also present some enduring truths about ambition, image, emotion, power, national direction, party identity, elite power brokers, and disaffected voters. Dickerson (moderator of TV's Face the Nation, columnist for online magazine Slate) witnessed a few events as a campaign reporter. Some were shared by other journalists and campaign workers-possibly, he claims, embellished in the retelling. Others are historical. The accounts demonstrate the evolution of standards and expectations for presidential campaigns, ranging from when Thomas Jefferson paid an unscrupulous journalist to defame his opponents in 1800 (and who later revealed Jefferson's scandalous liaison with Sally Hemings) to Harry Truman's 1952 precedent-setting whistlestop campaign to convince common voters that he was no different from them, to the nontraditional 2004 popular movement that created Howard Dean's campaign. Dickerson covers bribery, scandals, spin, theatrics, sabotage, and other ugly aspects of American king-making and weaves throughout the theme of voters' efforts to have some say over the uncompromising political system. VERDICT Political junkies and all readers will be enlightened by Dickerson's well-documented, engaging, and at times whimsical text. The connections between past campaigns and the wild 2016 season might offer readers promise for the future.-Margaret Kappanadze, Elmira Coll. Lib., NY © Copyright 2016. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Table of Contents

Timeline of U.S. Presidential Electionsp. ix
Introductionp. xvii
Part I Inflection Points
1980-"I Am Paying for This Microphone, Mr. Green"p. 3
1960-The Catholic Candidatep. 14
Part II Comebacks
1948-Truman off the Cuffp. 35
1992-Till the Last Dog Diesp. 56
Part III Collapses
1988-Dukakis Tanksp. 71
1972-Vote for Muskie or He'll Cryp. 89
1972-Eighteen-Day Nightmarep. 107
2004-The Dean Screamp. 125
Part IV Gambits and Gambles
1964-Stop Goldwaterp. 147
2000-The Straight Talk Expressp. 167
Part V Too Close to Call
1976-Republicans Are People, Toop. 187
1952-Thou Shalt Not Stealp. 219
1824-The Corrupt Bargainp. 240
Part VI Tar and Feather
1800-Keep Your Attack Dog Fedp. 263
1884-Ma, Ma, Where's My Pa?p. 287
1884-Burn This Letter!p. 302
1840-The Birth of Umbragep. 317
Part VII Crashing the Party
1980-A Cure for Malaisep. 343
1968-What Kind of a Nut Is George Wallace?p. 366
Acknowledgmentsp. 389
Notesp. 393
Bibliographyp. 411
Indexp. 425
About the Authorp. 441