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The Eighteen-Day Running Mate: McGovern,…

The Eighteen-Day Running Mate: McGovern, Eagleton, and a Campaign in…

by Joshua M. Glasser

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While watching All The Presidents Men, someone in the movie mentioned Eagleton and McGovern, causing me (30something) to ask my (60+ year old parents) who the hell Eagleton was. They both explained to me that he was a vice presidential candidate who was forced into stepping down because of electroshock therapy. I immediately waned to know more (and who wouldn't?). This was the only book I found that deal entirely with the 1972 election and I tore through it. Glasser (probably a bit young than me) was bitten with the same bug that caused me to read his book. He spend several years researching Eagleton and McGovern -- pre, during and post their campaign and what resulted is a fascinating look into the 1972 election.

Glasser's writing is easy to understand and he breaks the book down into different sections, each covering different periods in the 18 days it took for Eagleton (and McGovern) to fall from grace. What I learned, aside from affirming my belief that politics is dirty was that not much has changed on how we view electroshock therapy (and to some extent, therapy in general). But also that the decision to drop Eagleton from the ticket was more complicated than his past.

This was a really great book -- especially for someone who's more interested in Chinese history than American. I'm glad I read it, because the 60s/70s are one of the most interesting political periods in the US' history. ( )
  callmecayce | Jan 4, 2013 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0300176295, Hardcover)

No skeletons were rattling in his closet, Thomas Eagleton assured George McGovern’s political director. But only eighteen days later—after a series of damaging public revelations and feverish behind-the-scenes maneuverings—McGovern rescinded his endorsement of his Democratic vice-presidential running mate, and Eagleton withdrew from the ticket. This fascinating book is the first to uncover the full story behind Eagleton's rise and precipitous fall as a national candidate.

Within days of Eagleton's nomination, a pair of anonymous phone calls brought to light his history of hospitalizations for “nervous exhaustion and depression” and past treatment with electroshock therapy. The revelation rattled the campaign and placed McGovern's organization under intense public and media scrutiny. Joshua M. Glasser investigates a campaign in disarray and explores the perspectives of the campaign’s key players, how decisions were made and who made them, how cultural attitudes toward mental illness informed the crisis, and how Eagleton's and McGovern's personal ambitions shaped the course of events.

Drawing on personal interviews with McGovern, campaign manager Gary Hart, political director Frank Mankiewicz, and dozens of other participants inside and outside the McGovern and Eagleton camps—as well as extensive unpublished campaign records—Glasser captures the political and human drama of Eagleton's brief candidacy. Glasser also offers sharp insights into the America of 1972—mired in war and anxious about the economy, a time with striking similarities to our own.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:03 -0400)

An in-depth account of the rise and fall of Thomas Eagleton as George McGovern's vice-presidential candidate.

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