The Year That Broke Politics: Collusion and Chaos in the Presidential Election of 1968 (Hardcover)

The Year That Broke Politics: Collusion and Chaos in the Presidential Election of 1968 By Luke A. Nichter Cover Image
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The unknown story of the election that set the tone for today’s fractured politics
 
A Wall Street Journal Best Book of 2023: Politics
 
“The book is a delightful demolition of the many political myths that continue to muddy our understanding of that election year. . . . Nichter’s book stands out for its clear, direct prose and the scrupulous research on which it’s based.”—Barton Swaim, Wall Street Journal
 
The 1968 presidential race was a contentious battle between vice president Hubert Humphrey, Republican Richard Nixon, and former Alabama governor George Wallace. The United States was reeling from the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert F. Kennedy and was bitterly divided on the Vietnam War and domestic issues, including civil rights and rising crime. Drawing on previously unexamined archives and numerous interviews, Luke A. Nichter upends the conventional understanding of the campaign. 
 
Nichter chronicles how the evangelist Billy Graham met with Johnson after the president’s attempt to reenter the race was stymied by his own party, and offered him a deal: Nixon, if elected, would continue Johnson’s Vietnam War policy and also not oppose his Great Society, if Johnson would soften his support for Humphrey. Johnson agreed.
 
Nichter also shows that Johnson was far more active in the campaign than has previously been described; that Humphrey’s resurgence in October had nothing to do with his changing his position on the war; that Nixon’s “Southern Strategy” has been misunderstood, since he hardly even campaigned there; and that Wallace’s appeal went far beyond the South and anticipated today’s Republican populism. This eye-opening account of the political calculations and maneuvering that decided this fiercely fought election reshapes our understanding of a key moment in twentieth-century American history.

About the Author


Luke A. Nichter is professor of history and James H. Cavanaugh Endowed Chair in Presidential Studies at Chapman University. He is the author of The Last Brahmin: Henry Cabot Lodge Jr. and the Making of the Cold War. He lives in Orange, CA, and Bowling Green, OH.

Praise For…


“Both a serious work of scholarship and a romp of a book. . . . Mr. Nichter treats conventional wisdom the way defensive linemen treat quarterbacks, and the result is splendid.”—Barton Swaim, Wall Street Journal, “The Best Books of 2023: Politics”

“The book is a delightful demolition of the many political myths that continue to muddy our understanding of that election year. . . . Nichter’s book stands out for its clear, direct prose and the scrupulous research on which it’s based.”—Barton Swaim, Wall Street Journal

“A fresh, authoritative analysis of a pivotal election year.”—Kirkus Reviews

“It turns out that, for 56 years, we’ve been getting much of the well-known history of [1968] wrong. . . . Nichter reveals that what may be the most famous political contest of the 20th century could also be its least understood.”—Wilson Shirley, National Review

“This deeply researched volume overturns much of the conventional wisdom about the epochal election of 1968.”—Jessica T. Mathews, Foreign Affairs

“This is an absolutely riveting read, and proof that in the right hands, history can be re-written for the right reasons.”—Air Mail, “Editor’s Picks”

“Nobody will be able to write a competent history of 20th-century American politics without absorbing the themes and revelations in The Year that Broke Politics. . . . Nichter is a myth-buster . . . nudg[ing] the story . . . away from ideological ax grinding and toward, um, evidence. He dismantles misapprehensions and fabrications both large and small. . . . Nichter’s demolition of [the Chennault affair is] worth the price of the book all by itself.”—Andy Ferguson, Washington Free Beacon

“Makes a stale subject fresh by focusing on the circus instead of the sideshow, a conventional approach to other subjects but counterintuitive somehow in dealing with 1968.”—Daniel J. Flynn, American Spectator

“It takes a courageous historian to challenge [the conventional] narrative. This is just what Luke Nichter does.”—Nathan Pinkoski, Compact

“Luke Nichter gives readers what is surely the last word on this significant election. . . . The Year That Broke Politics answers a lot of lingering questions for history and . . . is a fun read.”—John Gizzi, Newsmax

“A fascinating book that provides insight into how we got to where we are today, and just how much America has and has not changed in the past half-century.”—Dean C. Curry, Providence magazine

“Political history as it should be written: highly readable and designed to report events as they happened.”—J. P. Sanson, Choice

“Well-researched . . . engrossing. . . . Nichter takes a fresh look at 1968 with an eye for reexamining some long-held but questionable beliefs on both sides of the aisle.”—Jay Trachtenberg, Austin Chronicle

“Luke Nichter is a brilliant scholar who knows how and when to keep digging. He is also a clear and compelling writer. The Year That Broke Politics is surprising, revelatory, and riveting.”—Evan Thomas, author of Being Nixon

The Year That Broke Politics is a masterpiece of political detective work full of fresh anecdotes often anchored with just unearthed archival documents. This is a game-changing book about the politics of 1968 from a first-rate Presidential historian. Highly recommended!”—Douglas Brinkley, author of Silent Spring Revolution: John F. Kennedy, Rachel Carson, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, and the Great Environmental Awakening

“No one is writing the history of modern American politics with more insight and originality than Luke Nichter. In The Year That Broke Politics, Nichter offers a radical revision of the momentous election of 1968. Overturned is the conspiracy theory that Richard Nixon undermined Lyndon Johnson’s Vietnam peace initiative. With meticulous research and invaluable new sources, Nichter shows that it was in fact Johnson who undermined Hubert Humphrey’s bid to succeed him—and who came to see Nixon as preferable. This is one of those rare books that recasts a major turning point and renders a shelf-load of earlier studies obsolete.”—Niall Ferguson, Milbank Family Senior Fellow, the Hoover Institution, and author of Kissinger, 1923–1968: The Idealist



Product Details
ISBN: 9780300254396
ISBN-10: 0300254393
Publisher: Yale University Press
Publication Date: August 1st, 2023
Pages: 396
Language: English

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