Cover image for Camelot's end : Kennedy vs. Carter, and the fight that broke the Democratic Party
Title:
Camelot's end : Kennedy vs. Carter, and the fight that broke the Democratic Party
ISBN:
9781455591381

9781549194771
Edition:
1st ed.
Physical Description:
vi, 390 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 24 cm.
Contents:
Sailing against the wind -- Origins of dirt and riches -- The pull of home and politics -- A sense of the void -- A rivalry begins -- The outsider -- Lanced -- Malaise -- The inevitable return of Camelot -- Mudd -- Upended -- "I didn't ask for a challenger" -- Civil war -- Robot rule -- Losing altitude -- Giant killer -- Mr. Mean -- Aftermath.
Genre:
Summary:
From a strange, dark chapter in American political history comes the captivating story of Ted Kennedy's 1980 campaign for president against the incumbent Jimmy Carter, told in full for the first time. The Carter presidency was on life support. The Democrats, desperate to keep power and yearning to resurrect former glory, turned to Kennedy. And so, 1980 became a civil war. It was the last time an American president received a serious reelection challenge from inside his own party, the last contested convention, and the last all-out floor fight, where political combatants fought in real time to decide who would be the nominee. It was the last gasp of an outdated system, an insider's game that old Kennedy hands thought they had mastered, and the year that marked the unraveling of the Democratic Party as America had known it. [This book] details the incredible drama of Kennedy's challenge--what led to it, how it unfolded, and its lasting effects--with cinematic sweep. It is a story about what happened to the Democratic Party when the country's long string of successes, luck, and global dominance following World War II ran its course, and how, on a quest to recapture the magic of JFK, Democrats plunged themselves into an intra-party civil war. And, at its heart, Camelot's End is the tale of two extraordinary and deeply flawed men: Teddy Kennedy, one of the nation's greatest lawmakers, a man of flaws and of great character; and Jimmy Carter, a politically tenacious but frequently underestimated trailblazer. Comprehensive and nuanced, featuring new interviews with major party leaders and behind-the-scenes revelations from the time, Camelot's End presents both Kennedy and Carter in a new light, and takes readers deep inside a fascinating chapter in American political history. --
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Summary

Summary

From a strange, dark chapter in American political history comes the captivating story of Ted Kennedy's 1980 campaign for president against the incumbent Jimmy Carter, told in full for the first time.
The Carter presidency was on life support. The Democrats, desperate to keep power and yearning to resurrect former glory, turned to Kennedy. And so, 1980 became a civil war. It was the last time an American president received a serious reelection challenge from inside his own party, the last contested convention, and the last all-out floor fight, where political combatants fought in real time to decide who would be the nominee. It was the last gasp of an outdated system, an insider's game that old Kennedy hands thought they had mastered, and the year that marked the unraveling of the Democratic Party as America had known it.

Camelot's End details the incredible drama of Kennedy's challenge -- what led to it, how it unfolded, and its lasting effects -- with cinematic sweep. It is a story about what happened to the Democratic Party when the country's long string of successes, luck, and global dominance following World War II ran its course, and how, on a quest to recapture the magic of JFK, Democrats plunged themselves into an intra-party civil war.
And, at its heart, Camelot's End is the tale of two extraordinary and deeply flawed men: Teddy Kennedy, one of the nation's greatest lawmakers, a man of flaws and of great character; and Jimmy Carter, a politically tenacious but frequently underestimated trailblazer. Comprehensive and nuanced, featuring new interviews with major party leaders and behind-the-scenes revelations from the time, Camelot's End presents both Kennedy and Carter in a new light, and takes readers deep inside a dark chapter in American political history.


Author Notes

Jon Ward is the senior political correspondent for Yahoo News , author of Camelot's End: Kennedy vs. Carter and the Fight that Broke the Democratic Party (Twelve Books, 2019), and host of The Long Game podcast. He has covered American politics and culture for two decades as a city desk reporter in Washington D.C.; as a White House correspondent who traveled aboard Air Force One to Africa, Europe, and the Middle East; and as a national affairs correspondent who has traveled the country to write about two presidential campaigns and the ideas and people animating our times. He has been published in The Washington Post , The New Republic , Politico Magazine , Vanity Fair , The Huffington Post , and The Washington Times . He and his family live in Washington, D.C.


Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

In his captivating debut political history, journalist Ward dissects the 1980 race for the Democratic presidential nomination, when Sen. Ted Kennedy, in an unprecedented move, challenged the embattled incumbent president, Jimmy Carter. Ward gives quick parallel accounts of both men's early lives, showcasing differences and similarities ("As with Carter, there were deep ties to family pulling Teddy toward a destiny he did not fully control"). Then Ward dives deep into Carter's first term, including Iran's capture of U.S. embassy hostages, and Kennedy's campaign, including an entire chapter devoted to a disastrous interview in which Kennedy struggled to articulate his motivation for running and rekindled public concerns about his involvement in the 1969 car accident that killed Mary Jo Kopechne. The book moves at a steady clip, but not by sacrificing scholarship-Ward draws on journalism of the day, previous biographies, histories, memoirs, and new interviews with some of the players. He engages fully with the complexities and contradictions of both men, including a depiction of Carter as "a man whose toothy grin masked a determined and competitive politician" with a mean streak that may surprise readers only familiar with the nonagenarian Habitat for Humanity volunteer. Ward's recounting of the seesaw of public opinion in 1980 makes for enthralling reading. Agent: Bridget Wagner Matzie, Zachary Shuster Harmsworth Literary Agency. (Jan.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Kirkus Review

The story of internecine warfare in the Democratic Party.In 1980, Jimmy Carter was in trouble. The sitting Democratic president was unpopular. Though the economy had been flagging for most of the past decade, as sitting president, he bore much of the blame even if he did not deserve it. Iranian revolutionaries had taken Americans hostage in the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, and Carter seemed helpless. On matters both domestic and foreign, Carter was perceived as weak and out of touch. Even as he anticipated a tough election fight against whomever the Republicans nominated (Ronald Reagan, it would turn out), he faced a challenge from the left within his party. Ted Kennedy, the youngest son of the legendary political family, challenged Carter for the Democratic nomination that year. As Yahoo senior political correspondent Ward notes, "it was one of only a handful of timesthat an incumbent president running for reelection had been challenged from within his own party." Though Carter would emerge from that struggle, bruised and battered, he would succumb to Reagan in the general election. This is the story the author tells in this intriguing political history. In a fine dual political biography that becomes a riveting tale of a party seemingly in chaos, the author occasionally overstates his casethe Democrats were hardly "broken" as a party in the 1980s and beyondand the dual-biography structure sometimes makes it seem as if Carter and Kennedy are somehow inevitably on a political collision course. Still, Ward provides deep insight into American politics in the past five decades. He writes fluidly and demonstrates a firm grasp of how politics work. It is also interesting that he writes in a time when there are increasing whispers that a sitting president might face an internal challenge to his renomination.A useful reminder of a past era that resonates with contemporary politics. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Booklist Review

In 1980, Ronald Reagan decisively defeated incumbent president Jimmy Carter. The so-called Reagan Revolution transformed both the Republican Party and the national political landscape. Ward, a longtime Washington-based political correspondent, asserts that the year's primary battle between Carter and Senator Ted Kennedy had an equally dramatic and transformative effect on the Democratic Party. Ward highlights the contrasts between their backgrounds and personalities. Carter grew up in rural poverty. Kennedy, of course, was born into wealth and privilege. Carter was driven, self-assured, and intensely ambitious. Kennedy, the youngest of nine children, often seemed overshadowed in that very competitive family, and he struggled to find a role. According to Ward, Carter eyed a run for the presidency as early as 1974, and he already resented Kennedy as a potential rival before he even met him. Ward may exaggerate the civil war within the Democratic Party; indeed, the national electoral map had been shifting well before the Carter-Kennedy duel. Still, this is a well-researched and valuable look back at a period of intense political turmoil that helped shape our current environment.--Jay Freeman Copyright 2018 Booklist


Table of Contents

Introductionp. 1
Chapter 1 Sailing Against the Windp. 11
Chapter 2 Origins of Dirt and Richesp. 23
Chapter 3 The Pull of Home and Politicsp. 35
Chapter 4 A Sense of the Voidp. 54
Chapter 5 A Rivalry Beginsp. 71
Chapter 6 The Outsiderp. 90
Chapter 7 Lancedp. 109
Chapter 8 Malaisep. 123
Chapter 9 The Inevitable Return of Camelotp. 145
Chapter 10 Muddp. 158
Chapter 11 Upendedp. 178
Chapter 12 "I Didn't Ask for a Challenger"p. 195
Chapter 13 Civil Warp. 215
Chapter 14 Robot Rulep. 228
Chapter 15 Losing Altitudep. 240
Chapter 16 Giant Killerp. 253
Chapter 17 Mr. Meanp. 274
Chapter 18 Aftermathp. 287
Acknowledgmentsp. 311
Sourcesp. 317
Notesp. 325
Indexp. 379