The Contest: The 1968 Election and the War for America's Soul (Hardcover)
A dramatic, deeply informed account of one of the most consequential elections and periods in American history
1968—rife with riots, assassinations, anti–Vietnam War protests, and realpolitik—was one of the most tumultuous years in the twentieth century, culminating in one of the most consequential presidential elections in American history. The Contest tells the story of that contentious election and that remarkable year. Bringing a fresh perspective to events that still resonate half a century later, this book is especially timely, giving us the long view of a turning point in American culture and politics.
Author Michael Schumacher sets the stage with a deep look at the people with important roles in the unfolding drama: Lyndon B. Johnson, Robert F. Kennedy, Eugene McCarthy, George Wallace, Richard Nixon, and especially Hubert H. Humphrey, whose papers and journals afford surprising new insights. Following these politicians in the lead-up to the primaries, through the chaotic conventions, and down the home stretch to the general election, The Contest combines biographical and historical details to create a narrative as intimate in human detail as it is momentous in scope and significance.
An election year when the competing forces of law and order and social justice were on the ballot, the Vietnam War divided the country, and the liberal regime begun with Franklin D. Roosevelt was on the defensive, 1968 marked a profound shift in the nation’s culture and sense of itself. Thorough in its research and spellbinding in the telling, Schumacher’s book brings sharp focus to that year and its lessons for our current critical moment in American politics.
About the Author
Michael Schumacher is the author and editor of many books, including biographies of Eric Clapton, Phil Ochs, Francis Ford Coppola, and Allen Ginsberg. Dharma Lion: A Biography of Allen Ginsberg; First Thought: Conversations with Allen Ginsberg; and There But for Fortune: The Life of Phil Ochs were published by the University of Minnesota Press.
"Michael Schumacher’s The Contest is a brilliant revisiting of the 1968 presidential election, which forever changed America and the world. Every page sparkles with historical wisdom, clear-headed analysis, and fresh facts. Out of all the books I’ve read on the 1968 election, this is the very best. Highly recommended!"—Douglas Brinkley, author of Cronkite
"Michael Schumacher has brought to life a presidential campaign for the ages. Comprehensive and deeply researched, here is an essential guide to the earth-shaking events and larger-than-life personalities of a year that lives on in history."—Roberta Walburn, author of Miles Lord: The Maverick Judge Who Brought Corporate America to Justice
"Readers seeking an entertaining and informative study of the 1968 campaign would do well to start here."—Kirkus Reviews
"A rigorously researched and detailed book that not only conveys all the volatility, rage, intrigue, and belief in the possibility of change that characterized the election of 1968 but provides a deeply human record of the lives of the powerful figures whose decisions would chart the course of history."—Foreword Reviews
"This durable history underlines all the nuances for readers who lived it and showcases the period’s drama for readers new to one of the defining sagas of the ’60s."—Publishers Weekly
"A fine choice as an introduction to the election and for those who enjoyed Lawrence O’Donnell’s Playing with Fire or Michael Cohen’s American Maelstrom."—Library Journal
"It’s difficult to imagine a more compelling and comprehensive look at the 1968 election . . . and it’s impossible to read without noting the parallels between then and now, as a nation struggles to keep believing in itself."—Star Tribune