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2005 CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title Award
A comprehensive account of JFK’s and LBJ’s leadership of the Democratic Party in the 1960s.
JFK, LBJ, and the Democratic Party is a richly detailed, comprehensive, and provocative account of presidential party leadership in the turbulent 1960s. Using many primary sources, including resources from presidential libraries, state and national archival material, public opinion polls, and numerous interviews, Sean J. Savage reveals for the first time the influence of Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson on the chairmanship, operations, structure, and finances of the Democratic National Committee. Savage further enriches his account with telephone conversations recently released from the Kennedy and Johnson presidential libraries, along with rare photos of JFK and LBJ.
“Savage has produced an extremely thorough and scholarly piece of work. He demonstrates that both JFK and LBJ did not enjoy particularly close relationships with their party, particularly not with its liberal wing, which never fully trusted either of them … Savage does an exemplary job of detailing JFK’s and LBJ’s paths to the presidency and the unraveling of LBJ’s 1964 electoral coalition. His account of the 1968 campaign is one of the very best that I have read … Sean Savage has produced an authoritative account of the Democratic Party during the Kennedy-Johnson era that will be a welcome resource for future scholars.” — The Journal of Southern History
“Sean J. Savage’s thoroughly researched work … offers a new perspective—an assessment of the two men as party leaders … the reader will be rewarded by a closely argued thesis, some new revelations about JFK and LBJ, and an extraordinary collection of rare photographs.” — The Journal of American History
“The author describes a party in transition, trying to practice the politics of consensus and ending up at the politics of ‘dissensus.’ This masterful work should spark an interest in studying the politics of the sixties in a broader context than just presidential personalities.” CHOICE
"The 1960s were a watershed in the history of the Democratic Party. Anyone seeking to know how and why Kennedy and Johnson irrevocably changed the party will want to read this exceptionally fine book, which also provides a background for understanding the momentous changes that have since taken place in America's two-party system. Sean Savage's book is a must read for scholars and students of American politics and history." Thomas E. Patterson, author of The Vanishing Voter: Public Involvement in an Age of Uncertainty
"Savage deals with the nuances of the relationships between JFK and LBJ respectively and Democratic Party officials. He elucidates difficulties that arose and reasons for the lack of cooperation between these prominent officials and political party officials. Readers will appreciate the prodigious archival research he has conducted and melded with important elements of the political science literature." Henry B. Sirgo, McNeese State University
Sean J. Savage is Associate Professor of Political Science at Saint Mary's College in Notre Dame. He is the author of Truman and the Democratic Party and Roosevelt: The Party Leader, 19321945.