1968—rife with riots, assassinations, anti–Vietnam War protests, and realpolitik—was one of the most tumultuous years in the twentieth century, culminating in one of the most consequential presidential elections in American history. The Contest tells the story of that contentious election.
Schumacher’s book is an exhaustive look not just at the 1968 election, but at the social changes that brought the country to that particular boiling point. It’s divided into four large sections, a structure that’s well suited for a topic with so many layers and personalities ... he does a good job of contrasting Humphrey’s backslapping bonhomie with McCarthy’s academic coolness ... Schumacher’s handling of Kennedy’s assassination is sensitive and dramatic, and indeed, so is his writing throughout the book — he keeps the reader turning the pages, even though we know what the outcome is ... It’s difficult to imagine a more compelling and comprehensive look at the 1968 election.
In The Contest, Michael Schumacher not only covers the events that made headlines in 1968 but takes an intimate, moving, and often surprising behind-the-scenes look at the major players who made it a pivotal year in American history ... a rigorously researched and detailed book that not only conveys all the volatility, rage, intrigue, and belief in the possibility of change that characterized the election of 1968 but provides a deeply human record of the lives of the powerful figures whose decisions would chart the course of history.
...a straightforward account of how the candidates in the 1968 American presidential election grappled with events and their own inner demons ... Like the election itself, the book is anticlimactic: there’s plenty of good storytelling but no new revelations. This durable history underlines all the nuances for readers who lived it and showcases the period’s drama for readers new to one of the defining sagas of the ’60s.