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  Henry M. Jackson : A Life in Politics
TitleHenry M. Jackson : A Life in Politics
ASIN0295979623 - Purchase This Book
Last ModifiedRalphie - May 31, 2005 07:01pm
DescriptionHenry "Scoop" Jackson may be one of the most underappreciated American politicians of the second half of the 20th century. He was certainly one of the Democrats' greatest cold warriors, and a man who might have saved his party from the doomed politics of McGovernism if he had only won the presidency, an office he sought twice. (He was, in fact, John F. Kennedy's first choice for a running mate in 1960, until Kennedy became convinced he needed a Southerner on the ticket.) The distinguished gentleman from the state of Washington began his congressional career during the Roosevelt administration, and it ended with his death in 1983 during the Reagan years--a tenure spanning nine presidents. Robert G. Kaufman's comprehensive biography sheds some well-deserved light on its neglected subject. Jackson fought against Senator Joseph McCarthy in the 1950s, for civil rights in the 1960s, and against d├ętente with the Communists in the 1970s. He's best known for this last crusade: "Jackson contributed enormously to ensuring that the United States fought and prevailed in this epochal struggle against Soviet totalitarianism."

His views prefigured those of the Reagan administration, which was filled with Jackson's neoconservative admirers. Jackson was, in a sense, the very first Reagan Democrat. Kaufman cites Howard Baker, the onetime senator and Reagan's chief of staff: "Jackson made sure we did not lose the Cold War during the 1970s so that Ronald Reagan could win it in the 1980s." If Henry M. Jackson: A Life in Politics is an admiring work, it's because there's so much to admire. Our TV-driven culture tends to lavish its attention on the executive branch and showboating legislators, rather than uncharismatic men of principle like Jackson. That's why serious biographies like this one are so essential--so that history will recognize the role-players who shaped what we have become. --John J. Miller

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