The Last Campaign: How Harry Truman Won the 1948 Election

The Last Campaign How Harry Truman Won the Election It was the last presidential campaign in which Americans truly had a choice across the ideological spectrum from the far Right to the far Left And the winner according to pundits and pollsters alike

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  • Title: The Last Campaign: How Harry Truman Won the 1948 Election
  • Author: Zachary Karabell
  • ISBN: 9780375400865
  • Page: 427
  • Format: Hardcover
  • It was the last presidential campaign in which Americans truly had a choice across the ideological spectrum, from the far Right to the far Left And the winner, according to pundits and pollsters alike, would be the Republican standard bearer, Governor Thomas E Dewey of New York After sixteen years of Democratic rule, Americans seemed tired of the party and, in particulaIt was the last presidential campaign in which Americans truly had a choice across the ideological spectrum, from the far Right to the far Left And the winner, according to pundits and pollsters alike, would be the Republican standard bearer, Governor Thomas E Dewey of New York After sixteen years of Democratic rule, Americans seemed tired of the party and, in particular, of the somewhat inept incumbent, Harry Truman Further, Truman s chances appeared doomed by the growing strength of Henry Wallace s left wing Progressive Party and Strom Thurmond s right wing States Rights Party, both drawing upon traditional Democratic constituencies.Zachary Karabell tells the fascinating story of all four campaigns We see how Truman s staff developed a superb reelection plan that ignored the South and concentrated on the farm vote a scheme that would give birth to Truman s historic whistle stop tour of the nation s heartland We learn how Dewey nearly lost the GOP nomination to Harold Stassen and how, in the last weeks, his gentlemanly campaign fell victim to complacency, owing to the candidate s wide lead in the polls We meet Wallace, the naive, disaffected former vice president who preaching racial equality, economic justice, and accommodation with the Soviet Union took a tour through the South accompanied by black aides, and was pelted with fruit for his pains And we witness how Thurmond led the white supremacist Dixiecrats in a walkout of the Democratic convention and contested the election throughout the South.In 1948, the United States was on the cusp of changes that would transform the political landscape forever Television was still an infant technology, a newfangled toy that many predicted would be a passing fad, unable to compete with radio Karabell argues that 1948 was the last time a presidential race would be dominated by radio and print media, and the last time progressive and far Left viewpoints were openly debated and covered in the mainstream press, before the Cold War consensus placed an entire spectrum of political views beyond the pale.Finally, Karabell shows why the polls were totally wrong, and how in the end Truman indulged in questionable political tactics to win the presidency And he explains why this victory came at great cost to Truman s second term and to the country, paving the way for a Republican backlash and the virulent anti Communist crusades of the 1950s.This vivid narrative is political history at its most absorbing And it is a cautionary tale that is highly relevant to the quandaries of presidential politics at the beginning of a new century.

    One thought on “The Last Campaign: How Harry Truman Won the 1948 Election”

    1. Excellent account of an epochal election, 1948, the "last campaign" of the old machine era of American politics before the mass media took over.

    2. As someone who loves political campaigns and especially presidential campaigns, this is a great chronicle of the exciting 1948 presidential race. This campaign had it all! Harry Truman - the embattled incumbent, Thomas Dewey - the presumptive champion according to the pundits and pollsters, Henry Wallace - the former VP, leftist and sometime mystic standard bearer of the Progressive Party, and of course the debonair Southerner and champion of states rights (read anti-civil rights) and leader of [...]

    3. This would have benefited from being longer. The material was interesting, but aside from *one sentence* acknowledging the existance of the NAACP there was a gaping absence of anything on the actions/reactions of black Americans in the North or South to Strom Thurmond and the Dixiecrats, Truman's civil rights legislation, the election in general Weird. Also, some of the stories needed to be fleshed out, and the pacing needed help - he handled writing about someone's sandwich (lots about menus in [...]

    4. I read this book after hearing a C-SPAN interview with the author. The story is an intriguing inspection of modern politics and the influence media (TV) has had upon the public's views. A good read, especially before an election.

    5. I was hoping someone would write a Theodore White style book about this weird election, and here it is. It will definitely make you wistful for the days when you had a choice between ideologically disparate candidates.

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