From the initial decision to run to the early strategizing, to the endless speeches to often-sparse crowds in far-flung locales, to the internecine squabbles over planning and priorities, to the bruising run for the party nomination, to the high-stakes culminating drama of the fall campaign — our authors are passionate about all of it. Add in their deep research in original sources (they make excellent use of the oral history collection at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library) and the abundant experience they bring as veteran political reporters for the Globe, and the result is a gripping, authoritative campaign history, every bit the successor to Theodore White’s classic work, The Making of the President 1960.’’
The Road to Camelot brings much new insight to an important playbook that has echoed through the campaigns of presidential aspirants as disparate as Barack Obama and Donald Trump. The authors take us step by step on the road to the Kennedy victory, leaving us with an appreciation for the maniacal attention to detail of both the candidate and his brother Robert, the best campaign manager in American political history ... Oliphant and Wilkie are strongest in shining a new and relevant light on the lead-up to the 1960 campaign and on the primary process. The general election, pitting Kennedy against Richard Nixon, has been covered much more intensively and in great detail over the years, so readers familiar with that epic battle will relive it in these pages rather than learn much new.
Oliphant and Wilkie excel here in taking the accepted knowledge of Kennedy's rise, debunking some of the conventional wisdom (such as Joe Kennedy's role as his son's Svengali) and adding new details that provide a richer history of our 35th president ... The authors' knowledge of politics, campaigns and the presidency crackles off each page. They touch all the Kennedy bases here, detailing the roles played by Robert Kennedy, the candidate's brother, as well as aides Theodore Sorenson, Lawrence O'Brien and others. Oliphant and Wilkie also give life to long-forgotten players in Massachusetts politics ... a must-read for fans of presidential history.
The authors are clearly admirers of Kennedy’s but not hagiographers ... The Road to Camelot succeeds nicely in recounting a political campaign yet does not quite capture the appeal of its major character. Kennedy made several campaign appearances in New York. As a Columbia University graduate student, I went down to lower Manhattan to see him speak on the steps of City Hall. Many local dignitaries arrived to polite applause. After a brief wait, an open car came down the street with the candidate and his beautiful wife. As it passed, the crowd surged powerfully. Kennedy’s words that day were not particularly memorable, but his tone of determination and the urgency of his manner were stirring. He was, at his best, charisma in action.
...a conscientiously-researched and terrific book ... through a careful piecing together of primary accounts and secondary reminiscences by all the key players, Oliphant and Wilkie have managed to craft a tougher and more balanced account of the long campaign than anybody's written yet.
Oliphant and Wilkie mined a wealth of fresh material to show how Kennedy approached his campaign in innovative ways. The authors impressively navigate all the new information to present a compelling story, easily shifting geographically and supplying background vital to understanding the whole picture. An excellent chronicle of JFK’s innovations, his true personality, and how close he came to losing