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

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

by Jon Ward


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 It was the last gasp of an outdated system, an insider's game that old Kennedy hands thought they had mastered, and the year that marked the unraveling of the Democratic Party as America had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

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781455591381
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publication date: 01/22/2019
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 346,611
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.60(d)

About the Author

Jon Ward is the senior political correspondent for Yahoo News, author of Camelot's End: Kennedy vs. Carter and the Fight that Broke the Democratic Party (Twelve Books, 2019), and host of The Long Game podcast. He has covered American politics and culture for two decades as a city desk reporter in Washington D.C.; as a White House correspondent who traveled aboard Air Force One to Africa, Europe, and the Middle East; and as a national affairs correspondent who has traveled the country to write about two presidential campaigns and the ideas and people animating our times. He has been published in The Washington Post, The New Republic, Politico Magazine, Vanity Fair, The Huffington Post, and The Washington Times. He and his family live in Washington, D.C.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

Chapter 1 Sailing Against the Wind 11

Chapter 2 Origins of Dirt and Riches 23

Chapter 3 The Pull of Home and Politics 35

Chapter 4 A Sense of the Void 54

Chapter 5 A Rivalry Begins 71

Chapter 6 The Outsider 90

Chapter 7 Lanced 109

Chapter 8 Malaise 123

Chapter 9 The Inevitable Return of Camelot 145

Chapter 10 Mudd 158

Chapter 11 Upended 178

Chapter 12 "I Didn't Ask for a Challenger" 195

Chapter 13 Civil War 215

Chapter 14 Robot Rule 228

Chapter 15 Losing Altitude 240

Chapter 16 Giant Killer 253

Chapter 17 Mr. Mean 274

Chapter 18 Aftermath 287

Acknowledgments 311

Sources 317

Notes 325

Index 379

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Camelot's End: Kennedy vs. Carter and the Fight that Broke the Democratic Party 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
troutrivers More than 1 year ago
An excellent study of the characters of both men. As someone who voted for Carter in 1976 (my 2nd presidential vote) and then supported Kennedy at the Maine Democratic caucus in February of 1980 and eventually worked very hard for the independent John Anderson, I was very interested and extremely newly informed as to just what all went on that year. My one critical comment is that the author, who clearly is a liberal, still falls into the trap that a vote for Anderson was a lost vote for Carter. I well remember my democratic friends telling me not to waste my vote and help elect Reagan....and their dumbfound expressions when I said fine, if Anderson was not running I would be voting for Reagan. They could not accept it then and now today the author still clings to that belief. Even though, as he points out, even if Carter had gotten all the Anderson votes in the states where that would have given the state to Carter....Reagan still would have won the Electoral College.