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Camelot's End: Kennedy vs. Carter and the Fight that Broke the Democratic Party

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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. I 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 It was the last gasp of an outdated system, an insider's game that old Kennedy hands thought they had mastered, and the year that marked the unraveling of the Democratic Party as America had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.


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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. I 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.

30 review for Camelot's End: Kennedy vs. Carter and the Fight that Broke the Democratic Party

  1. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    Many have heard the Kennedy family referred to as living in a modern Camelot. Powerful patriarch, Joseph, and his sons strove to make a difference in the political realm. But when did it all come to an end for them and how did America turn away from this glorified view of the Kennedys? Perhaps they never have, though Jon Ward argues that the political Camelot came crashing down with the 1980 Democratic National Convention, dragging the Party along with it. All this primarily due to an embittered Many have heard the Kennedy family referred to as living in a modern Camelot. Powerful patriarch, Joseph, and his sons strove to make a difference in the political realm. But when did it all come to an end for them and how did America turn away from this glorified view of the Kennedys? Perhaps they never have, though Jon Ward argues that the political Camelot came crashing down with the 1980 Democratic National Convention, dragging the Party along with it. All this primarily due to an embittered campaign for a presidential nominee. Incumbent President Jimmy Carter took the stage at Madison Square Gardens to seek the formal nod by delegates to take the Democrats into the campaign to face the electorate in November. Standing in his way was Edward ‘Teddy’ Kennedy, the last of the political brothers and a powerhouse all his own. Ward takes the reader on a journey to see how these men destroyed their political bases, the Party, and all but handed Ronald Reagan the presidency in 1980, leaving the country in awe during a time it needed solace the most. Opening with great biographical narratives told in parallel, Ward discusses the upbringing of both men—Kennedy with a silver spoon lodged in his mouth, while Carter sweated it out picking peanuts—and how different they were. Kennedy had politics in his blood, but the shadow of his two brothers seemed to stymie his ability to stay on the beaten path. Carter, a respected Navy veteran, sought to promote his progressive ways in the Deep South, where segregation and racism were the lifeblood of politics. Coming up through the ranks, both men had their foibles, which lingered with them, though Kennedy’s 1969 Chappaquiddick driving debacle that left a young woman dead would seem to have overshadowed much of Carter’s aligning himself with racists in order to secure both the Georgia governor’s mansion and a 1976 run for president. While both men knew the other only in passing, they remained on one another’s radar. Kennedy passed up the chance to run in ‘76, but many felt that he was gearing up for ‘80, though he remained uncommitted. Meanwhile, Carter sat in the Oval Office and faced economic disaster at a time when the American people could not accept anything less than the prosperity they felt the world’s superpower deserved. While Carter had some international successes, these were overshadowed by long gas lines and protests by the American people. Kennedy toiled in the US Senate to create needed legislation for healthcare reforms and tax breaks that would help the middle class. As they geared up for the 1980 campaign, Carter and Kennedy both sought to take the Democratic Party in their own direction, though it was the latter’s decision to challenge a sitting president that left Carter promising to ‘whip his ass’ even before the last Prince of Camelot had formally entered the race. Speaking of entering the race, Ward goes into detail about a CBS special on Teddy Kennedy before he announced, which depicted the man as one who could not dodge the Chappaquiddick disaster from a decade before and had no clear reason for entering the race, even though he was seen as an odds-in favourite and wanted to shape policy in new directions. From there, the primary season began, allowing both men to claw at one another and make gains in different ways. Kennedy stumbled out of the block and found financial limitations paralyse his progress, while Carter was trying to juggle the Iran hostage crisis, which was yet another black mark on his reputation. Even when Carter had the needed delegates to win, Kennedy would not concede, crafting an idea about releasing delegates from their primary commitments when they arrived in New York. Bloodied and bruised, they arrived for the convention to a raucous, yet highly divided Democratic base, all while GOP candidate Ronald Reagan sat back and basked in the knowledge that he would obliterate either man, come November. Ward offers a wonderfully detailed description of the goings-on at the Democratic Convention, including Kennedy’s last attempt to wrestle control away from the sitting president. However, nothing could outdo the events surrounding the last night, when Kennedy handed Carter the snub seen round the world. From there, it was a rocky push through the general election campaign, where Reagan all but handed victory to Carter, who fumbled many chances to bury the ‘television lightweight’. In the end, with Carter trounced and the Democrats in disarray, both men turned away from the presidential limelight. Carter was shunned by his party and turned to a life of humanitarian aid and writing, while Kennedy spent one final decade as a philanderer, while honing his skills as a senator and helped bring the institution together before his death. While it is impossible to know what might have happened in 1980, had things been a little different in the primaries or during the election, there is no doubt that the 1980 left a sour taste in the mouths of many watching the implosion of the Democratic Party by two men who refused to compromise. Camelot is gone, left crumbled by a bumbling third son and other relatives who have passed on. Gritty political battles are also a thing of the past, at least those played out on the convention floor during prime time. But, as we continue to see today, tearing a party apart remains a game that some play for the fun of it, leaving some to wonder if the GOP will resurrect the bloodbath this book depicted in 2020. A powerful narrative that engages the reader with anecdotes and historical accounts, sure to educate and entertain in equal measure. A must-read for political fanatics such as myself, especially those who love American politics. While I am a fan of political history, particularly as it relates to presidential politics, this book stood out as something even more exceptional. Jon Ward delivers not only a description of the battle for the Democratic nomination in 1980, but serves to present a well-rounded biographical piece of the two main contenders. Mixing in many of the political flavours of the time, Ward supports his claims that this was to be the true litmus test of how the Democrats could meld two of their major factions ahead of another clash with the Republicans. Vowing not to be as criminal as Nixon or as blazé as Ford, the Party wanted to build on its successes, while also trying to ignore some of the domestic disasters that had befallen the Carter Administration since January 1977. In doing so, two men who refused to bow to one another began a battle that would ensure no stone was left unturned and allowed the world to watch as they destroyed one another. Unity was second to victory in August of 1980, with a sitting president being forced to fight for his own party’s stamp of approval, though it was from the last man in a family that had owned the Democrats for decades. Ward uses not only press coverage, but interviews, behind the scenes candid depictions, as well as poll sentiments at the time to develop a narrative that permits the reader to feel right in on the action. Vicious attacks were lodged and stubbornness helped disintegrate any form of coming together before the prime time disaster that encapsulated the Democratic Party coming apart. Who was to blame for all of this? Ward offers some suggestions in his powerful prose, though it is up to the reader to decide in the end. With powerful chapters full of research, Jon Ward offers readers that detailed look into the political goings-on leading up to the 1980 Convention and how it took years for the Democrats to recover and unite to defeat their GOP opponents, at least for the White House. I am so pleased this book found its way onto my radar and hope to find more in line with this style soon. Kudos, Mr. Ward, for a great story of political undoing in the modern age. I will have to find more of your work, especially if it is as easy to comprehend. Love/hate the review? An ever-growing collection of others appears at: http://pecheyponderings.wordpress.com/ A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/...

  2. 4 out of 5

    Nancy

    Two flawed men. Kennedy, carrying the heavy legacy of his patriot martyred brothers, a narcissist womanizer and drunkard yet developing into the 'conscious of his party." And Carter, a devout Christian, a political maverick, a man whose wide grin disguised a bulldog tenacity. I could see it coming. As author Jon Ward unfolded the story of the 1980 presidential election campaign, I got to the 'ah ha' point of understanding the inevitability of the Democrats losing to the Republican candidate Ronal Two flawed men. Kennedy, carrying the heavy legacy of his patriot martyred brothers, a narcissist womanizer and drunkard yet developing into the 'conscious of his party." And Carter, a devout Christian, a political maverick, a man whose wide grin disguised a bulldog tenacity. I could see it coming. As author Jon Ward unfolded the story of the 1980 presidential election campaign, I got to the 'ah ha' point of understanding the inevitability of the Democrats losing to the Republican candidate Ronald Reagan. Incumbent President Carter had lost credibility. He was unable to end crippling inflation--do I remember that inflation! 15 1/2% interest rate on our first house! He had done nothing to end high unemployment. The Iran hostage crisis just went on and on. The punitive oil prices caused shortages and the shortages led to riots and violence. Carter had believed that politics could be used for Christian purposes to alleviate suffering. But he never played well with others--Hunter S. Thompson declared him 'one of the three meanest men' he had ever met. Teddy Kennedy hoped to 'save the soul' of the Democratic party. A deeply troubled man burdened by the Kennedy legacy, the last son standing, he felt he had to run. But he was haunted by one night, a car, a bridge, and a dead woman at Chappaquiddick. Kennedy did the unthinkable, challenging an incumbent president from his own party. He wanted national health care, a stimulation bill, to end the arms race. Reagan, sixty-nine-years-old, a conservative who had provided Hollywood names to the House UnAmerican Committee, declared for states rights. Carter misjudged him as a lightweight. But Reagan had ease and charm where Carter looked like a coiled snake ready to bite. Third-party candidate John Anderson had also thrown his hat into the ring. The working people abandoned the Democratic Party. Carter's own church, the Southern Baptists, abandoned the Democratic Party. The Republicans had found the golden ticket: attracting working-class white Christian voters into the party of rich businessmen. Carter had lackluster support, and even after the convention, Teddy was getting cheers. Even after Carter won his party's nomination, Kennedy didn't give him his wholehearted support. The failed president later won the Nobel Peace Prize and his work with Habitat for Humanity is a mene going around social media as an example of presidential values. At the senator's death, Carter admitted Kennedy was one of the "best senators." They redeemed themselves in later life, becoming better people. But in 1980, they managed to cost the Democrats the White House. Ward's book was a revealing, engrossing read. I ended up taking copious notes. I enjoyed the book on many levels: recalling the social and political climate in the lates 70s and how it affected me; as portraits of two Democratic icons; as a step-by-step retelling of a pivotal political contest; and for addressing the political issues that are still relevant today. I received a free book from the publisher through Goodreads in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Steven Z.

    Today we find ourselves at the beginning of the 2020 presidential campaign even though the Iowa caucuses are eleven months away. It seems that each day another Democrat announces their candidacy, and President Trump does what President Trump does. Talking heads on cable news programs ask each candidate why they are running and what sets them apart from the competition. For me, it brings back memories of watching a 60 Minutes program in 1980 where Roger Mudd interviewed Ted Kennedy and asked him Today we find ourselves at the beginning of the 2020 presidential campaign even though the Iowa caucuses are eleven months away. It seems that each day another Democrat announces their candidacy, and President Trump does what President Trump does. Talking heads on cable news programs ask each candidate why they are running and what sets them apart from the competition. For me, it brings back memories of watching a 60 Minutes program in 1980 where Roger Mudd interviewed Ted Kennedy and asked him why he was challenging President Carter for their parties’ nomination. Kennedy’s response went along way in destroying his candidacy as his rambling response lacked coherence, and in no way answered the question, leaving the American electorate in the dark as to why he was running. At a time when the Democratic Party seems split between its progressive and moderate wings it would be a useful exercise to examine a similar split that played out during 1980 election campaign. Jon Ward’s new book, CAMELOT’S END: KENNEDY VERSUS CARTER AND THE FIGHT THAT BROKE THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY successfully takes up the task and provides numerous insights into the politics of seeking the presidency considering today’s budding Democratic Party fissures. One could also make a similar argument as the more establishment wing of the Republican Party appears to be growing tired of threats, government shut downs, “wall” politics for the base, that even President Trump might be challenged during the primary season for his parties’ nomination. Ward’s book is in large part a dual biography of President Carter and Senator Kennedy tracing their personal roots from their upbringing, their political careers, as well as their distaste for each other. The scope of Ward’s narrative encompasses the politics of the south that Carter emerged from, in addition to the Kennedy legacy that Senator Kennedy had to cope with his entire career. Ward raises important questions that effected the course of the Democratic Party after the 1980 election that elevated Ronald Reagan to the presidency, as well as the country at large. Ward explores why Kennedy challenged Carter’s re-nomination, and what impact that challenge had for American political history. Further, the author contemplates how Kennedy’s challenge impacted the two men on a personal level. Ward argues that in part Kennedy was driven by the cost and state of health care in America in the 1970s. A witness to one family health crisis to another; the death of two brothers and a sister, and his son Ted Jr.’s battle with cancer, apart from his own surviving a plane crash that immobilized him for six months, the Senator sincerely believed it was not fair that a rich family like the Kennedy’s could afford the medical bills from such tragedies, while most American families could not. Secondly, Kennedy opposed Carter’s fiscal conservatism that produced budget cuts to basic social programs. For the senator, “sometimes a party must sail against the wind.” Further, 1979 was a terrible year for President Carter. The Camp David Accords seemed to be unraveling, unemployment remained high, inflation was rising, gas prices were increasing, and events in Iran led to the overthrow of the Shah and the taking of American hostages. For Kennedy and establishment types within the Democratic Party, the president with a 37% approval rating was so weak he could be defeated. With the scandal involving his Director of Management and Budget Bert Lance, and Carter’s “Malaise Speech,” a vacuum seemed to appear that could be filled. Finally, Kennedy would seek the presidency that seemed to be his birthright, hoping that Chappaquiddick had receded far enough into the background of the American electorate’s collective memory. Carter was a very driven man. Ward states that he appeared to be a soft-spoken individual who had evangelical glow about him, however, inside he was very competitive and was made up a steely disposition that hated to lose or admit he was wrong. In addition to the persona he presented Carter viewed politics through a Niebuhrian lens, combining a belief in his divine calling, juxtaposed with a competitive politician. Peter Bourne, one of his advisors and a biographer has written, “increasingly be conceptualized politics as a vehicle for advancing God’s kingdom on earth by alleviating human suffering and despair on a scale that infinitely magnified what one individual could do alone,” that individual was Jimmy Carter. Ward argues that the turning point in the relationship between the two men occurred in May 1974 at the Law School Day speeches at the University of Georgia where both men where scheduled to speak. Kennedy gave a traditional democratic values speech, but Carter who had decided to run for president resented Kennedy’s presence and as Governor of Georgia treated him rather shabbily that day. Carter believed that Kennedy was pushing him around and he would not tolerate it. Ward goes on to describe Carter’s successful race for the presidency in 1976 in detail and accurately points out that it was clear that the seeds for his 1980 defeat were already being planted. Carter and his people believed that they were not beholden to the Democratic Party establishment and Messrs. Jordan, Powell, Lance and others knew what was best. Further, Carter alienated the journalistic community with his “refusal to give a plain answer to a plain question,” converting every act into a political morality play. Carter’s insular group played hard in their personal lives stretching certain boundaries which conflicted to the holier than thou attitude that Carter preached to the press. Ward dissects the 1980 race, and the book moves smoothly, but does not neglect scholarship relying on secondary works, memoirs, and numerous interviews. Carter and Kennedy’s complex personalities are fully explored, including what causes drove them, and what they were most passionate about. The events of 1980 had important implications for American politics for decades to come. First, Kennedy was able to remove “presidential” fever from his system and go on to serve in the Senate for 47 years and become one of the most prolific legislators in American history. Second, it launched the most successful post-presidency in American history as President Carter through the work of the Carter Center and other organizations has impacted world peace, helped cure disease, and reduce poverty, programs that continue to this day. Lastly, With Carter’s defeat, Ward correctly argues that the coalition that Democrats relied upon since the election of Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1932 had splintered apart. Reagan was able to split the combination of “union members and ethnics in the big cities, poor rural voters, racial minorities, Catholics, and the South” that had formed the Democratic Party voting blocs. This coalition was fractured so badly that it has not and may never be put back again. This chasm in Democratic party politics is ongoing and it will be interesting how it plays out in the coming presidential election.

  4. 5 out of 5

    David Hines

    Over the past few weeks I have been studying the Carter Administration, the first presidency I really remember. With the passage of nearly 40 years enough time has passed to look objectively at the Jimmy Carter presidency, and I wanted to see if my life-long impression of him as a hugely incompetent president but a very good man, has changed. Although I have learned a lot from this reading, and I believe history shows Carter in fact achieved some good things, my overall perception of him has not Over the past few weeks I have been studying the Carter Administration, the first presidency I really remember. With the passage of nearly 40 years enough time has passed to look objectively at the Jimmy Carter presidency, and I wanted to see if my life-long impression of him as a hugely incompetent president but a very good man, has changed. Although I have learned a lot from this reading, and I believe history shows Carter in fact achieved some good things, my overall perception of him has not changed. Despite his accomplishments, he failed in a fundamental role of the presidency, which is to project personal and American strength and his opponents both home and abroad took advantage of that. By 1979, with Carter unable to address out of control inflation, high unemployment, energy shortages and the Iranian revolution and hostage crises, as well as his self-inflicted chaos of seeking the resignations of his entire Cabinet after his actually well-received "malaise" speech, the odds were frankly against his re-election. Enter liberal Senator Ted Kennedy, who decided to challenge Carter for the 1980 Democratic nomination. The surprise was not that Kennedy ran, but how bad a campaign he ran. It was a long, bitter slog that deeply embittered both men, but despite his problems and unpopularity, Carter won, fair and square. But instead of gracefully bowing out and setting himself for a 1984 run, Kennedy refused to give up and carried his campaign to the 1980 Democratic convention, where he snubbed Carter and delivered a blockbuster speech that totally overshone the president. The amount of time and money Carter had to spend defeating Kennedy and the harm Kennedy's attacks did to Carter, wounded an already hurting president. Combined with Carter's mismanagement of the weekend before the election, when he ill-advisedly stopped campaigning to one again hopelessly respond to the Iranians and see the hostages not released, that led to large overnight defections from him, Kennedy's poor sportsmanship and disdain for Carter clearly played a leading role in the president's crushing defeat. While Kennedy helped defeat Carter, he really helped defeat his lifelong liberalism. For all his conservatism on spending, Carter was no Ronald Reagan and Reagan proceeded to dismantle much of the liberalism Kennedy stood for and in fact the conservative turn Reagan's election brought to the nation continues today. This book does a solid and engaging job in explaining Kennedy's ill-fated 1980 presidential campaign and the harm it did to Carter's already troubled presidency and campaign, while also being very honest in presenting Carter's mis-steps also. Anyone interested in knowing the details of part of the key reason Carter lost in 1980 and how Kennedy's selfishness harmed both Carter and Democratic Party liberalism will learn much from this well-written and well-researched book.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Sarmat Chowdhury

    Ward’s “Camelot’s End” is the story of the Democratic Party truly fracturing at the end of the 1970s, culminating in the chaotic Presidential Primary season between incumbent President Carter, and Senator Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts. Though the title is slightly hyperbolic - this has not been “a civil war” in the Democratic Party, nor was it the last major schism the party has seen; Ward details the fundamental differences between the two men, and their rise to power and eventual face off th Ward’s “Camelot’s End” is the story of the Democratic Party truly fracturing at the end of the 1970s, culminating in the chaotic Presidential Primary season between incumbent President Carter, and Senator Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts. Though the title is slightly hyperbolic - this has not been “a civil war” in the Democratic Party, nor was it the last major schism the party has seen; Ward details the fundamental differences between the two men, and their rise to power and eventual face off that allowed for Ronald Reagan to clinch the Presidency in 1980 and allow for GOP control of the White House until 1993. Though there is an emphasis I believe on President Carter (because of his nature as the incumbent and also for having a larger swath of material to access) this book is also the story of the last Kennedy brother and his attempt at the Presidency following in the footsteps of Jack and Bobby. A must read for those attempting to understand the post - Watergate American political arena, at the very least, the book provides a great layout of how American politics is simply cyclical in nature.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Josh Hedgepeth

    Check out my reading vlog for this book! Thank you to NetGalley and Twelve Books for an e-arc of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I heard about this book on an NPR show and was intrigued by the premise. The story follows President Carter in his reelection campaign for president as he is challenged, as an incumbent president, by Ted Kennedy. This was news to me. Nobody challenges a sitting president. Except, this time, someone did. This comes before my time, but it’s recent enoug Check out my reading vlog for this book! Thank you to NetGalley and Twelve Books for an e-arc of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I heard about this book on an NPR show and was intrigued by the premise. The story follows President Carter in his reelection campaign for president as he is challenged, as an incumbent president, by Ted Kennedy. This was news to me. Nobody challenges a sitting president. Except, this time, someone did. This comes before my time, but it’s recent enough to feel modern. That was why I asked for a copy to review. It ended up being even more relevant than I realized. Ted was a Kennedy, raised like royalty with the privilege of his family, and this is in stark contrast to Carter came from a much smaller background. His father was a peanut farmer, but he left the farm for the Navy where he got a Bachelor of Science. After his father’s death, he left the Navy to return home. There was little money to be had from his father’s death, so we essentially a lowly farmer. He began having political aspirations that would drive him into the Georgia Senate and eventually governor. He ran on a platform of antisegregation, but it was still a very problematic one. He never really lied, but he worked really hard to mislead southern whites to make them think he was your traditional southern democrats. This was the first indication of his political mindset. He was not afraid to put on the fact that was needed. I have to say, this was all mind boggling to me. I have had such an elevated view of Carter, but this turns him into a bit of a…well politician. I don’t hate the act of politicking, but I can’t help but question his authenticity. Did he believe what he said? He definitely fought for it, eventually, but was that because he wanted that or because he saw a path to victory with it? I don’t know the answer, but I need to learn more about him. This book really motivated me to do that. On the flipside, Kennedy’s background was, as I said, like a Kennedy. He was designed for public office, and he was driven by much of the entitlement that came with being a Kennedy. It’s really interesting because he was arguably more progressive than Carter. That would end up being part of the platform he used against Carter. Although, I can’t help to ask how much was true convection versus entitlement. I’m not as interested in delving into Kennedy’s background. I believe he joined the senate before he would challenge Carter (I read this a month ago now), but he was always seen as a potential contender. The only reason he didn’t challenge Carter in his first go was due to his history of major politic scandals. The biggest one being his, likely drunk, driving a car off a bridge into a lake. He escaped, but the same can’t be said for his girlfriend (or someone he had on the side, because he was a major womanizer). The real kicker here, is Kennedy just left the scene. If had a called for help, she would have a survived. Evidence suggest that she survived for, I believe, up to an hour after. Somehow, this did not end his career. He would go on to serve in the senate until his death. It is mindboggling but also too easy to believe given his race, gender, and class. I left this book with a much lower opinion of both of them. Not that Kennedy was very memorable. They both had their problems, and this book spends maybe a third of its time talking about just this. I absolutely applaud it for that. I think it was necessary for Ward to give us sufficient context for everything that led to this challenge. Of course, a big player was also the many failures of Carter who was universally hated even by his own party, but understand, the feud between Kennedy and Carter was still fairly personal. It was a tight campaign, but Carter managed to eventually pull though. I am less interested with the final details than the comparisons to today. Carter would go on to lose reelection to Ronald Regan. A racist celebrity with zero experience. I can’t help but see the contrast with a more recent campaign. Not long ago, a democrat ran for office. She was not an incumbent, but it was pretty well understood she’d win reelection. I am not critiquing her opponent for running. Primaries are a part of the process. However, this ideolog ran on a sense of purity, like Carter. He demonized and ostracized his opponent. Even as it was clear (more clear than even with Carter) that he would not win. Even after losing, he failed to really support his candidate. The result was we got a Regan-esk politician with not actual understanding of how to run. Of course, Drumpf is arguably worse than Regan. What’s more, Clinton was a woman, and it’s interesting to see how Bernie has played with Biden, likely in part because of the damage he sees he caused. To be clear, neither Carter nor Clinton were perfect, but we can’t ignore the role they played in this process. Clinton was far more prepared for office than Carter. I can’t help but question whether Carter was even prepared. Sure, he had a background in science, but he was still very new to politics. His identity as an outsider is part of what helped get him elected. Although, I can’t help but compare him to Pete Buttigeg, a sweet talking politician who easily loved but lacks much experience. I want to learn more about Carter’s time in office, and I intend to. Nevertheless, his time in office seems to be accept as a bit of a debacle. All in all, I loved this book. It gave me everything I wanted and more. I felt engaged and eager to discuss what I was learning. What’s more, I felt the strong urge to continue learning even about Kennedy who I still don’t care much about. Lastly, this book shattered my opinion of Carter, and forces me to reckon with my own tendency to idealize politicians... 5/5!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Kathleen

    First, it must be said that some commentators __ without reading the book __on the basis of a blurb have assumed that this book will be a celebration of Ted Kennedy. This was not the intent of the author. In fact, Ward says of Chappaquiddick :" The scandal could easily have resulted in prison time, and probably should have. Kopechne's death should have cost Kennedy his Senate seat, but it did not." Instead CAMELOT'S END is a detailed, fascinating history of the contrasting lives of Jimmy Carter a First, it must be said that some commentators __ without reading the book __on the basis of a blurb have assumed that this book will be a celebration of Ted Kennedy. This was not the intent of the author. In fact, Ward says of Chappaquiddick :" The scandal could easily have resulted in prison time, and probably should have. Kopechne's death should have cost Kennedy his Senate seat, but it did not." Instead CAMELOT'S END is a detailed, fascinating history of the contrasting lives of Jimmy Carter and Edward Kennedy __ including their failures and accomplishments. The book describes the effects of their battle for the presidential nomination on the Democratic Party and what both men did in the aftermath. A gripping history of the not so distant past.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jim Cullison

    A wonderfully entertaining, consistently hilarious political history of the arson that annhilated the oldest political party in the world four decades ago this August. Ted Kennedy comes off like The Brat Who Redeemed Himself, while Carter fares far better as The Puritan With The Underrated Presidency. This page-turning gem averages a laugh-out loud anecdote per page. Highly recommended.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Garry Wilmore

    While visiting our public library one afternoon, desperate for new reading material but not quite knowing what kind I wanted, I finally pulled this book off the new-books shelf and checked it out. I then spent the next few days pondering whether I really wanted to read a book about Jimmy Carter and Ted Kennedy; I am not particularly fond of either man, after all, and I find Kennedy to be especially reprehensible. At one point I even picked up the unopened book as I headed out the door, intending While visiting our public library one afternoon, desperate for new reading material but not quite knowing what kind I wanted, I finally pulled this book off the new-books shelf and checked it out. I then spent the next few days pondering whether I really wanted to read a book about Jimmy Carter and Ted Kennedy; I am not particularly fond of either man, after all, and I find Kennedy to be especially reprehensible. At one point I even picked up the unopened book as I headed out the door, intending to return it to the library unread, but then I paused for a moment and decided to give it a chance. I'm glad now that I did so. Jimmy Carter's presidency, which formed part of America's landscape and my own during my mid-twenties, does not evoke happy memories today, partly because I still see him as a spectacularly inept Chief Executive, and partly because underneath the toothy grin and outward charm, Jimmy Carter was an essentially humorless man, and often mean-spirited as well. This book chronicles the battle between Carter and Kennedy as the latter challenged him for the Democratic party nomination for president in 1980. I followed their internecine warfare while it was going on, and at the time it reminded me of nothing so much as watching a slow-motion train wreck. I relived those days four decades later, while reading Jon Ward's absorbing account of this half-forgotten tale, remembered today mostly by its surviving participants and history aficionados like myself. Ward covers the pivotal moments of the rivalry in intimate detail; for instance, he devotes an entire chapter to a vivid, blow-by-blow account of the infamous Kennedy interview with Roger Mudd, which CBS aired on the same day the Iran hostage crisis began. (In some places throughout the book, Ward does go into a bit too much detail, as in his rather tedious description of what Gerald Ford was wearing as he was interviewed during that year's Republican National Convention). This is not a story that is going to interest everyone, and as I mentioned above, I nearly decided not to read it myself. But for anyone interested in the postwar political history of the United States, I highly recommend it. Come to think of it, I have a young nephew who might enjoy it very much!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Dave

    A good look at the 1980 Democratic primary. Edward Kennedy challenged fellow Democrat and incumbent President Jimmy Carter. It was a bitter fight.. I was 12 in 1980 and while I remember a lot from that time, I didn't remember the Kennedy/Carter clash. (I was watching the Network TV premiere of JAWS the same night Ted Kennedy was on CBS, struggling to answer questions about Chappaquidick and why he wanted to be President) I learned much about the Carter presidency. And about the time frame in gene A good look at the 1980 Democratic primary. Edward Kennedy challenged fellow Democrat and incumbent President Jimmy Carter. It was a bitter fight.. I was 12 in 1980 and while I remember a lot from that time, I didn't remember the Kennedy/Carter clash. (I was watching the Network TV premiere of JAWS the same night Ted Kennedy was on CBS, struggling to answer questions about Chappaquidick and why he wanted to be President) I learned much about the Carter presidency. And about the time frame in general. Both were complex men. Both fought for what they thought was right. A nice snapshot of late 70s/early 80s America and the politics of the time....

  11. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Wilhelm

    An interesting book, and a somewhat fresh take on a well traveled topic. Overall though nothing in the book was particularly earth shattering. Despite the title there was also no real commentary offered about how the events that took place in the 1980 primary or the Kennedy/Carter relationship shaped the future of the Democratic party.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen

    Who could be more dissimilar as politicians than Jimmy Carter and Edward Kennedy? Yet, this book claims what happened during the early 1980’s changed everything. It didn’t seem to be a very believable argument.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Colleen

    Each time I read a book about a former president, I am always astounded by what I did not know. The amount of details that I either did not pay attention to at the time (because I was young and not really interested in politics) or because we are not privy to the whole picture. The nuances of character between President Carter and Senator Kennedy couldn't be more different and yet are much the same. Each was driven to succeed, to do their best, and had something to prove to themselves. Neither o Each time I read a book about a former president, I am always astounded by what I did not know. The amount of details that I either did not pay attention to at the time (because I was young and not really interested in politics) or because we are not privy to the whole picture. The nuances of character between President Carter and Senator Kennedy couldn't be more different and yet are much the same. Each was driven to succeed, to do their best, and had something to prove to themselves. Neither of these men could see in the other the strengths they had to offer only perceived weaknesses. Was it because they themselves internalized the same failings? I learned a lot about each mans beginnings and the roads which led them to DC. Their inner struggles, character, dedication to lead and achieve more, but most of all their legacies. It takes a special kind of person to put themselves out in the public eye of politics to be praised by one side and yet reviled by the other and the ever changing mood of the press. Never quite able to please everyone, having to choose your words so carefully, and for all to see your actions judged not just daily but every second of the day. It is a wonder anyone puts themselves through such a trial. But these men are noble men (no one is perfect and yet we expect them to be) who show us in the end that they care about making the US and the world a better place for them having giving so much of themselves. I tried to remember when things went so wrong in Congress with each side not willing to work together. I was glad Mr. Ward wisely included this piece of history for us all to see. Things have gotten worse since then, it is not just recently we have become so divided. I am surprised we are fighting the same issues about racism, healthcare, cuts to social services and woman's issues. These issues were as important then as they are today and yet it feels as if little progress has been made. There were a lot of things I didn't remember such as President Reagan using the phrase "Make America Great Again" (and here I thought it was a new thought slogan.) Nor did I remember the Republicans Convention VP controversy with Ford and Bush, and the list goes on. I am glad to see that I was right that President Carter was a good man. But the idea that he was angry does not feel right to me. My impression now is that he so driven and felt he had so much to accomplish and as he learned so little time to do so, He actually has achieved more accolades for his efforts after leaving office. I am glad to have been able to read this book and look forward to reading many more books about our President's lives.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Frank Paul

    Ward has a light style with the subject of Ted Kennedy's primary campaign against Jimmy Carter. He skips a lot of the nitty-gritty details of the primary calender and focuses on the personalities of the two rivals, with ample time given to their respective personal histories. The narrative is compelling because it deals with both men during a time when they were not at their best. Ward gives a good and thorough explanation of why Kennedy ran and how Carter was able to defeat him. The real poigna Ward has a light style with the subject of Ted Kennedy's primary campaign against Jimmy Carter. He skips a lot of the nitty-gritty details of the primary calender and focuses on the personalities of the two rivals, with ample time given to their respective personal histories. The narrative is compelling because it deals with both men during a time when they were not at their best. Ward gives a good and thorough explanation of why Kennedy ran and how Carter was able to defeat him. The real poignancy comes from the fact that the victory proved so hollow, as Carter got crushed by Reagan and the New Deal coalition of the Democratic party was killed in the process. But both Carter and Kenney went on to have impressive third acts of American life and Ward puts that in proper perspective in the final chapter of the book. One real highlight was a chapter devoted to the disastrous interviw Kennedy gave Roger Mudd. Everyone remembers that Kennedy whiffed on the question of why he wanted to be president, but I didn't appreciate just how dogged Mudd was in calling out the bullshit explanation that Kennedy has put forth in response to the death of Marry Jo Kopekne at Chappaquiddick. The subject of that chapter could probably make a compelling book of its own.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Philip

    This was a great pick from Beach (aka book club member Branden Beachy). Sometimes political books are dangerous - as part of your group might be Conservative, and part might be Liberal. Even histories can get bogged down with bias. But this had something for everybody. It didn't paint Ted Kennedy or Jimmy Carter in an inappropriately negative light. And kind of lauded them both. So, the Liberals were happy. But it was also about the destruction of the Democratic Party... so the Conservatives were This was a great pick from Beach (aka book club member Branden Beachy). Sometimes political books are dangerous - as part of your group might be Conservative, and part might be Liberal. Even histories can get bogged down with bias. But this had something for everybody. It didn't paint Ted Kennedy or Jimmy Carter in an inappropriately negative light. And kind of lauded them both. So, the Liberals were happy. But it was also about the destruction of the Democratic Party... so the Conservatives were happy: win-win! I knew quite a bit about both Kennedy and Carter. But it turns out (as is the case with most things) there was a lot that I didn't know. For instance, I knew the Iran Hostage Crisis more or less gave was the nail in the coffin of Carter's presidency. What I didn't know was that it was what secured him the nomination - keeping it out of the hands of Ted Kennedy. I knew about Chappaquiddick of course, but even with the media bringing it up every time Ted Kennedy's name is invoked, there was still much I didn't know. Some of the group came away thinking less of Carter. Some of the group came away thinking more of him. For some of us, it was a little of both. Personally, I think that in the future, historians will be a little bit kinder toward his (and Nixon's) presidency, and I think they'll be a little bit more critical of Reagan. But who knows. Last thought: I thought it was cool that Hunter S. Thompson made so many cameos in the book, since I had already decided upon Fear and Loathing as our next book.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Trey Grayson

    Ward masterfully tells a story about which I only knew the most general outline. (Cut me some slack — I was 8 the 1980 presidential election!) Having met or heard stories about a number of the folks involved in that campaign made it even more interesting. Anyone interested in politics should read this book.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Molly Sutter

    I didn't know anything about the 1980 election other than Carter lost badly to Reagan. Not only was this book an eye opener, but it also explained the ebb and flow of politics through the years. I only hope that we will swing back to a time of promise and hope, away from despair and "malaise." I didn't know anything about the 1980 election other than Carter lost badly to Reagan. Not only was this book an eye opener, but it also explained the ebb and flow of politics through the years. I only hope that we will swing back to a time of promise and hope, away from despair and "malaise."

  18. 4 out of 5

    Inches

    The 1980 election marked the beginning of the Democrats gradual drifting to the right, culminating in its present state of Republican Light.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Brennan

    Fascinating read.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Antonio Matta

    A marvelous account about the fight between two giants that ultimately shaped the face of the modern Democratic Party.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Douglas Graney

    I like Carter so yes bias...but what a jerk Kennedy was on the last night of 1980 Democrat convention. Good background on both and written in a fair manner.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Mark Walker

    Covering what is now a historical period, which encompassed the presidential nomination contest between Jimmy Carter and Ted Kennedy, this book eerily mirrors today's Democratic party with its familiar establishment versus progressive tensions. Jon Ward provides an interwoven exposé of two very different persons, from their family backgrounds to their approach to governing. Each learned to survive in the political world he grew up in. Both were ambitious, and each pursued his advancement in diff Covering what is now a historical period, which encompassed the presidential nomination contest between Jimmy Carter and Ted Kennedy, this book eerily mirrors today's Democratic party with its familiar establishment versus progressive tensions. Jon Ward provides an interwoven exposé of two very different persons, from their family backgrounds to their approach to governing. Each learned to survive in the political world he grew up in. Both were ambitious, and each pursued his advancement in different ways as fit his own personality. The procedural changes in the early 1970s, that allowed George McGovern to secure the Democratic nomination in 1972 and Jimmy Carter to do the same in 1976, played a role in the relationship between Carter and Kennedy in 1980 when Carter was the incumbent president. Comparing those events with an earlier period in which party bosses negotiated in the proverbial smoke filled rooms, the author speculates about the downside of too much democracy, citing Donald Trump's incitement of racist and xenophobic elements to wrench the 2016 nomination from the Republican establishment. Carter had won the popular vote in the 1980 primary, and the nomination to run for re-election. Kennedy had eventually hunkered down with only the carry over staff from his father's and brother's campaigns—mostly older men who were ill equipped to manage under the new Democratic party rules. Would it have really been better to return to the old ways? All things considered, I think not! Certainly not now in the 21st Century—a democratically run primary process is the only way the Democrats can self-correct with greatly needed new blood. The skills needed are those that communicate with voters, who are not as clueless as some campaigns appear to think they are. At different points in 1979 and 1980, the nomination and likely the presidency were Carter's or Kennedy's to lose. In the end, the both stumbled in ways that ensured neither of them would win in the general election. Kennedy's health care plans would have to wait for the election of Barack Obama in 2008. Although Carter had actually achieved the deal with Iran for the release of the hostages, he was out of office by the time they returned home and Ronald Reagan took credit for Carter's accomplishment. The whole series of episodes was like a Shakespearean tragedy—Camelot's end indeed. Kennedy's less than stellar character was a perennial campaign issue, and in spite of his seeming preachiness Carter had his moral failings as well (though of a different nature). Today we're on the flip side of that coin with the Republican base embracing the documented sexual predator in the White House, apparently believing he will in the end protect them from the monsters they fear—while in 1980 the progressive base of the Democratic party viscerally wanted Ted Kennedy to be president in spite of his cheating in college, the tragic death of a young woman in a car he abandoned, and his infamous personal behavior somewhat similar to that of Trump today, expecting that the senator would deliver for them more progressive policies that President Carter had little enthusiasm for. Does character count in political office? The honest answer is probably "only if it delivers the desired results." We should be candid with ourselves about that.

  23. 5 out of 5

    John

    I found it to be engrossing and well researched and a nice democratic-centric follow up to The Invisible Bridge by Perlstein.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Bill Manzi

    The Jimmy Carter/Teddy Kennedy race for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1980 was an epic fight and Jon Ward brings us back to it with this terrific book. The Carter/Kennedy fight had both a short term and long term impact on the Democratic Party, with the contest weakening incumbent President Carter, and most certainly helping GOP nominee Ronald Reagan to victory that year. The contest, without question, impacted Democratic politics in ways still felt today. The author brings us mini-b The Jimmy Carter/Teddy Kennedy race for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1980 was an epic fight and Jon Ward brings us back to it with this terrific book. The Carter/Kennedy fight had both a short term and long term impact on the Democratic Party, with the contest weakening incumbent President Carter, and most certainly helping GOP nominee Ronald Reagan to victory that year. The contest, without question, impacted Democratic politics in ways still felt today. The author brings us mini-biographies of each man to start the book, with looks that are not always flattering to either. We see Carter’s development as a politician in the deep south, and despite his reputation as a new southern Democrat we see that he was willing to at least blur his positions on race in order to advance politically. He is contrasted with Kennedy in terms of his poorer upbringing, and how hard he had to fight to get ahead. That obviously was not the case with Ted Kennedy, and the author does not shy away from making that contrast with Carter an unflattering one for Kennedy. Carter’s race to the Presidency is covered, with the Georgia operatives he brought with him to Washington not exactly fitting in with the political class. The run-up to the Carter/Kennedy confrontation is looked at, with the political separation that led to Kennedy entering the race given a good look. Carter’s political operation was hamstrung in several important ways, many of which are covered in some recently read books. (“The Gatekeepers: How the White House Chiefs of Staff Define Every Presidency” by Chris Whipple and “Tip O’Neill and the Democratic Century” by John Farrell.) Carter’s political failings, and his inability to get along with Democratic grandees like Ted Kennedy and Tip O’Neill, directly led to the Kennedy challenge. Knowing that Kennedy (and many other Dems) were not happy with the direction of the Carter Administration the President dug in and refused to make the political accommodations that might have prevented the Kennedy challenge. Carter’s rebuffing of Kennedy on health care, while not the only factor bringing Kennedy into the race, most certainly played an outsized role. Carter’s failures, in a political sense, are covered extensively in the Farrell book where we find that Ted Kennedy is not the only major Democratic officeholder to have problems with the Carter political operation. Whipple shows us Carter adopting the “spokes of the wheel” staff system, with no Chief of Staff. Everyone, including Carter, now sees that as a problem, and it had to be a factor in the sub-par performance of the Carter political operation, and a factor in the breakdown with Kennedy. My own view is that there was also some “grievance” in Carter about Kennedy, reflective of some jealousy over Kennedy’s standing in the Democratic Party, and in the nation. This grievance, in my view, led to some desire in Carter to show Teddy exactly who the boss was. In 1979 Kennedy, in national polling, was seen as an easy victor over Carter. Carter did his part to fuel the rivalry by answering a question about Kennedy’s possible entrance into the race: “Carter remained publicly defiant about his political future, despite his tanking popularity. One day after the June numbers appeared, he hosted several dozen congressmen at the White House for a briefing on the Panama Canal treaty, which was struggling to gain support. The House members were seated at round tables, in groups of ten or so. Carter went from table to table. While he spoke to one group, he was asked by Representative Toby Moffett of Connecticut how he felt about the 1980 election. Carter claims that Moffett asked him if he was even going to run for reelection, “which was kind of an insult to an incumbent president.” “Of course I am,” Carter told Moffett. Moffett persisted. “What about Ted Kennedy?” he asked. “I’m going to whip his ass,” Carter said. Representative William Brodhead, a Michigan Democrat, was taken aback. “Excuse me, what did you say?” he said. Moffett cut him off. “I don’t think the president wants to repeat what he said,” he told Brodhead. Carter corrected him. “Yes I do,” he said. “I’m going to whip his ass.” Ward, Jon. Camelot's End . Grand Central Publishing. Kindle Edition. Author Jon Ward brings us the actual primary fight in a measured way, not inundating us with detail but covering the campaign high and low points. In this area the author does not spare Kennedy, who he paints as over-confident, with a political operation covered in rust. Kennedy’s indecision, his disastrous interview with Roger Mudd, and his failure to come up with a cogent message that resonated with primary voters, are covered. (The End of Camelot.) Kennedy had some political misfortune, as the Iran hostage crisis initially created some patriotic support for President Carter, and allowed Carter to avoid the campaign trail and debates. As Kennedy took early defeat after defeat, many of them by wide margins, many urged him to get out of the race. Kennedy’s refusal to do so, and his decision to take the fight all the way to the convention, have been widely discussed, and in some quarters heavily criticized. It is true that Kennedy performed substantially better on the campaign trail once the race was effectively over, deciding to just let it rip. He had a couple of big wins over Carter, including in the New York primary, but it simply was too little, too late. Going into the Convention Carter’s delegate lead was insurmountable. The book gives us a good look at that Convention, and the very bad blood that existed between the Carter and Kennedy camps. This is another aspect of the Kennedy operation that has come in for heavy criticism. Kennedy’s attempt to “open” the Convention by releasing delegates from their candidate commitments accrued through the caucuses and primaries is covered, as well as the Kennedy operation platform fights and general disruption of the proceedings. (Harold Ickes gets an important cameo in this section) Of course we get the great Kennedy speech at the Convention (“the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die”) as well as the refusal of Kennedy to give Carter a full embrace on the stage at the end of the Convention. This episode is now legend, and Jon Ward gives us much detail on it, including the fact that Kennedy did indeed shake Carter’s hand. Despite the handshake there was no raising of the clasped hands indicating unity between the camps, and Kennedy studiously avoided Carter on that stage. With Kennedy’s speech having worked the party faithful up in a way that Carter could not the Kennedy support was vital to Carter. Ward shows us Carter essentially being humiliated on that stage as the opening of the general election campaign he was destined to lose to Ronald Reagan. Kennedy deserves some criticism for that performance, but the hostility, by that point, was simply baked into the cake. A very good and interesting book by Ward. Ted Kennedy only ran for President once, and this book gives you a good and fair look at that race, and how it impacted the Democratic Party, and one term Democratic President Jimmy Carter, and helped to usher in eight years of Ronald Reagan.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jeff

    This was a very good book. I can’t say that it broke new ground, for me as a person who has read a good deal of history I had read most of the stories and anecdotes. Still, it does provide a nice background of the story. This would be a great book for someone wanting to acquit themselves with an important, under remembered time in politics. One of the more important lines of thought in the book was that for Kennedy, even as the odds became longer for him to succeed, the process of running, full This was a very good book. I can’t say that it broke new ground, for me as a person who has read a good deal of history I had read most of the stories and anecdotes. Still, it does provide a nice background of the story. This would be a great book for someone wanting to acquit themselves with an important, under remembered time in politics. One of the more important lines of thought in the book was that for Kennedy, even as the odds became longer for him to succeed, the process of running, full out and through the convention, was redeeming for him and released, perhaps once and for all, his need to complete his brother’s destinies. From that point forward, at least politically, he seemed to be more comfortable in his own skin as to who he was. There is significant time spent examining his 1980 convention speech, “ The Dream Shall Never Die” speech. I, myself, remember that speech, I was just 14 when it occurred but I remember that night, hearing it on a radio broadcast, not seeing it on television. Hearing it, not seeing it, the cadence of the delivery, the call to arms, and especially the ebullient, seemingly unending, floor demonstration at its completion gave it a sense of even more power. This is a fine look at this pivotal fight and the personalities of Carter and Kennedy which led to its extreme bitterness.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Bookreporter.com Biography & Memoir

    Though he's not known for his deep knowledge of American political history, with his approval ratings languishing in the mid-30s, President Trump could be excused if his thoughts occasionally turn to the last time an incumbent president faced a serious challenge to his renomination. That contest --- the 1980 Democratic nomination fight between President Jimmy Carter and Massachusetts Senator Edward Kennedy --- is the subject of Yahoo News senior political correspondent Jon Ward's CAMELOT'S END: K Though he's not known for his deep knowledge of American political history, with his approval ratings languishing in the mid-30s, President Trump could be excused if his thoughts occasionally turn to the last time an incumbent president faced a serious challenge to his renomination. That contest --- the 1980 Democratic nomination fight between President Jimmy Carter and Massachusetts Senator Edward Kennedy --- is the subject of Yahoo News senior political correspondent Jon Ward's CAMELOT'S END: Kennedy vs. Carter and the Fight that Broke the Democratic Party. Ward's book is a capable account of the ultimately quixotic effort by the last of the Kennedy brothers to fulfill his family's destiny and achieve personal redemption. In brief biographical sketches, Ward describes how the circumstances that brought Carter and Kennedy to the pinnacle of American politics couldn't have differed more starkly. Contrary to his image as a soft-spoken Sunday school teacher from a small Georgia town, Carter was a "determined and competitive politician" whose rapid ascent to the presidency was propelled by less than subtle appeals to racism in his 1970 campaign for governor of Georgia. Kennedy was the heir to a family of American political royalty, his appeal enhanced by the twin tragedies of his brothers' assassinations. Almost from the moment that his brother Robert's 1968 presidential campaign was cut short, Kennedy's ardent supporters longed for the day he would be a Democratic presidential nominee. But in July 1969, his involvement in an automobile accident on Chappaquiddick Island that killed Mary Jo Kopechne appeared to have brought an end to their hopes, and his ambitions, vague though they were at times. Even with that, Kennedy flirted with the possibility of a run in both 1972 and 1976. By the fall of 1979, however, frustrated with what he saw as Carter's lackluster leadership, particularly on the issue of healthcare, and buoyed by polls showing him leading the incumbent by 2 to 1, he finally decided to mount the challenge. As Ward describes it, Kennedy, "driven by forces larger than himself," ran what often seemed at best a halfhearted campaign, doomed both by his ineffectiveness as a candidate and by the superiority of the Carter campaign's effort at amassing an insurmountable lead in the delegate count, even without dominating the primary vote in key states. Twin foreign policy crises in late 1979 --- the seizure of 66 American hostages at the US Embassy in Iran and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan --- paradoxically boosted Carter's popularity, and his decision to confine his campaigning to the Rose Garden mostly blunted the effectiveness of Kennedy's attacks. Kennedy, in Ward's epitaph for the campaign, had been "lured into a presidential run by an inviting set of circumstances, only to see the landscape shift dramatically," and the result was the most consequential electoral defeat for any member of the family. Unsurprisingly, the Kennedy campaign's last-minute effort to force an open convention fizzled, but he rallied from that fiasco to deliver a rousing speech to the delegates that is still considered by many a masterpiece of political oratory. The awkward drama on the convention stage on the night of Carter's nomination, when Kennedy refused to pose for the traditional hands-raised photograph (Ward hints at reports he may have been intoxicated), provided a fitting end to the sour race. For all of Ward's skill in bringing to life the events of the nomination contest, he's less effective in advancing his thesis that Kennedy's challenge "broke" the Democratic Party and, ultimately, accounted for Carter's defeat. It's impossible to know what the outcome of the general election would have been had Carter traveled a smooth path to the nomination. But he ran in the face of strong political headwinds against an opponent, Ronald Reagan, whose affable personality and simple vision for America offered a sharp contrast to the grim prospect of rising inflation, gas shortages and an ineffective foreign policy (symbolized most dramatically in the disastrous effort to rescue the Iran hostages in April 1980) that dogged Carter's presidency. Reagan succeeded where Kennedy failed, crafting an optimistic message that energized Republicans and peeled off disgruntled traditional Democratic voters to build a coalition that won him a decisive popular vote win and a massive Electoral College majority. As Ward succinctly explains in his book's concluding chapter, the irony of the Kennedy-Carter battle is that both of the principals rebounded from devastating political defeats in second acts that surpassed anything either achieved earlier in his career. In his post-presidency, Carter devoted himself to an array of charitable activities, while producing more than 30 books. His leadership in the fight for human rights won him the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002. At age 94, nearly four years after a cancer diagnosis, he remains a vigorous advocate for a variety of causes. Kennedy went on to serve another 29 years in the Senate, becoming what Ward calls "a model of what an effective senator could be." He died in August 2009, as the fourth-longest-serving senator in history, and just a few months before the passage of the Affordable Care Act, the closest the country has come to achieving his lifelong goal of universal healthcare. The 2020 presidential election is still 21 months away. For all the activity among the Democratic aspirants, the rumors of a Republican challenger have remained just that. Should one arise, CAMELOT'S END will be a useful book to pull down from the shelf. Reviewed by Harvey Freedenberg

  27. 5 out of 5

    Robert

    This book was rich with details about both Carter and Kennedy, and the author worked hard to portray the two rivals as they really were. There is no sugarcoating the ugly race. Where I quibble with the book is it does not deliver the promise of how this race changed the Democratic Party. It certainly impacted both men but there was a lack of detail on how the Democratic Party as a whole was impacted either in policy or style.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Judyth Wier

    Ward has not found is topic in this angry, missing the facts account of the Carter/Kennedy relationship. It is certainly not a testament to the end of the Democratic Party. There were nuggets where he could have exploded this but he stood them them up for childish pokes at both Kennedy and Carter. If I had read his acknowledgments first I probably would not have read the book.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Mehrsa

    The book is interesting, but it fails to deliver what it promises. It's not at all about the fight that broke the democratic party. It's a mixed biography of Carter and Kennedy. There's not much about the current democratic party at all or even the next democratic administration that followed Carter's. The biographies are pretty interesting though. The book is interesting, but it fails to deliver what it promises. It's not at all about the fight that broke the democratic party. It's a mixed biography of Carter and Kennedy. There's not much about the current democratic party at all or even the next democratic administration that followed Carter's. The biographies are pretty interesting though.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jesse Young

    A nice unpacking of a pivotal, devastating moment in history that the Democratic party would prefer to forget. You will marvel at Kennedy's infuriating venality and Carter's bizarre pettiness. It's easy to forget how this conflict wrecked the party for a long time -- and how powerful its legacy was. Also functions as a good short biography of both men. Recommended for political junkies. A nice unpacking of a pivotal, devastating moment in history that the Democratic party would prefer to forget. You will marvel at Kennedy's infuriating venality and Carter's bizarre pettiness. It's easy to forget how this conflict wrecked the party for a long time -- and how powerful its legacy was. Also functions as a good short biography of both men. Recommended for political junkies.

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