Out of Print, and Still the Best, Part 1
It’s rare that I buy two copies of the same book. Because bookstore books are free to read, it’s rare that I even buy one copy of a book. If I buy it, I must really be impressed.
My latest favorite instructional aid for American history classes will be a book not published since the mid-1960s.
I bought my second copy because it was the edition updated for 1966. It includes a page or two on Thomas Dewey, Adlai Stevenson and Barry Goldwater, but there’s also an unfinished chapter that compares 1960 presidential candidates Richard Nixon and Jack Kennedy.
The book is They Also Ran. It’s by the guy who wrote The Agony and the Ecstasy, if you’ve ever seen that Heston-riffic movie.
They Also Ran piqued my interest, though, mostly for its subtitle.
The story of the men who were defeated for the presidency.
I checked it out of my school library and read it in a weekend. Then, almost on an impulse, I bought an easy-to-photocopy hardcover edition from 1944. That makes it 10 years older than my dad.
What made me so interested? From the introduction:
What kind of people would we be now if the men in this book had been elected to the presidency, instead of defeated? Would we still have a democracy, or would we have slipped into a dictatorship or one of the numerous isms that have arisen since 1800? Would we Americans have become a more intelligent nation, or would we have reverted to a state of barbarism? How might the defeated ones have changed the course of our history?
Really tasty. The 1966 edition of the book wonders aloud whether Nixon had been a better choice than Kennedy in that razor-thin election of 1960.
I think we know the answer to that one.
Don’t forget about Part 2.