Perlstein's epic account begins in the blood and fire of the 1965 Watts riots, nine months after Lyndon Johnson's historic landslide victory over Barry Goldwater appeared to herald a permanent liberal consensus in the United States. Yet the next year, scores of liberals were tossed out of Congress, America was more divided than ever, and a disgraced politician was on his way to a shocking comeback: Richard Nixon.
Between 1965 and 1972, America experienced no less than a second civil war. Out of its ashes, the political world we know now was born. It was the era not only of Nixon, Johnson, Spiro Agnew, Hubert H. Humphrey, George McGovern, Richard J. Daley, and George Wallace but Abbie Hoffman, Ronald Reagan, Angela Davis, Ted Kennedy, Charles Manson, John Lindsay, and Jane Fonda. There are tantalizing glimpses of Jimmy Carter, George H. W. Bush, Jesse Jackson, John Kerry, and even of two ambitious young men named Karl Rove and William Clinton -- and a not so ambitious young man named George W. Bush.
Cataclysms tell the story of "Nixonland" Angry blacks burning down their neighborhoods in cities across the land as white suburbanites defend home and hearth with shotgunsThe student insurgency over the Vietnam War, the assassinations of Robert F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, and the riots at the 1968 Democratic National ConventionThe fissuring of the Democratic Party into warring factions manipulated by the "dirty tricks" of Nixon and his Committee to Re-Elect the PresidentRichard Nixon pledging a new dawn of national unity, governing more divisively than any president before him, then directing a criminal conspiracy, the Watergate Cover-up, from the Oval Office
Then, in November 1972, Nixon, harvesting the bitterness and resentment born of America's turmoil, was reelected in a landslide even bigger than Johnson's 1964 victory, not only setting the stage for his dramatic 1974 resignation but defining the terms of the ideological divide that characterizes America today.
Filled with prodigious research and driven by a powerful narrative, Rick Perlstein's magisterial account of how America divided confirms his place as one of our country's most celebrated historians.
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Richard Milhous Nixon was the first Californian elected to national office, serving as vice-president under Eisenhower and president from 1968 until his forced resignation in 1974. Lyndon B. Johnson, a powerful Democratic Senator from Texas, was JFK's vice-president in the 1960 election and succeeded him in November 1963. Barry Goldwater was a conservative senator from Arizona who captured the hearts and support of the conservative movement and was nominated for President in 1964. Written off as a factor in national politics after losing the California governorship in 1962, Richard Nixon rebuilt his reputation, gained the nomination and won the election in 1968. Hubert Humphrey was a liberal Democrat who served in the United States Senate from Minnesota until being elected vice-president in 1964. George McGovern, a senator from South Dakota, was nominated by the Democrats in 1972 as a peace candidate, but he lost heavily in November to Richard Nixon. After the French proved themselves unable to recover their Indonesian territory after World War II, the United States gradually took on their role and became mired in a land war. The Watergate scandal began as a botched burglary of the offices of the Democratic National Committee in the Watergate complex in 1968.