Jon Ward captures the sound and the fury of this struggle [between Jimmy Carter and Edward Kennedy for the 1980 Presidential nomination] in Camelot’s End, a fast-paced, even-handed look at Kennedy’s doomed challenge to a doomed president at a time of doom and gloom ... Ward’s achievement is in showing—better than any of his predecessors—how the two circled each other warily before their public confrontation during the presidential campaign ... this is a breezy, pleasant read, a nostalgic window on a time long ago for those of us who lived (and covered) it, an instructive volume for those too young to have witnessed one of the more fascinating passages in American political life. It also provides an enduring lesson.
[Ward] purées his narrative mostly from the accounts of others and does a professional job of it. But he quotes so profligately from the authors of the 82 books and eight magazine articles in his source list that it’s hard to find any of his own prose worth citing ... Inescapably, the book takes the reader back to one of the more dispiriting periods of modern American politics—Mr. Carter’s post-Watergate presidency of combined high inflation, high interest rates and high unemployment, gas-shortage riots, and the Iranian hostage crisis, among other miseries.
Ward provides a thorough and readable chronicle of how the bitter primary fight between Carter and Ted Kennedy and the Democrats’ misplaced nostalgia for the past sabotaged their future and how their division eerily foreshadowed the Republicans’ own civil war in 2016 that put Donald Trump in the White House.