Sunday, August 24, 2008

Five best: books on political conventions

CBS's Jeff Greenfield named a five best list of books about political conventions for the Wall Street Journal.

One title on his list:
Five Days in Philadelphia
by Charles Peters
PublicAffairs, 2005

"Five Days in Philadelphia" may trigger a feeling of nostalgia for the days of brokered conventions with multiple ballots. Certain readers may even be led to skip the upcoming conventions and watch C-SPAN's newsreel footage of the Good Old Days. Wendell Willkie -- a small-town Indiana boy turned utility-company executive -- seemed an unlikely possibility for the 1940 GOP nomination compared with Sens. Robert Taft and Arthur Vandenberg and the New York prosecutor Thomas Dewey. But with the assistance of Republican media outlets such as the New York Herald-Tribune and Time magazine, and with chants of "We Want Willkie!" echoing through the Philadelphia convention galleries, the internationalist-minded Willkie took the nomination on the sixth ballot. Charles Peters, the founding editor of the Washington Monthly, describes the GOP convention in compelling detail and, along the way, provides a fine account of the Democratic convention too, where an ostensibly reluctant FDR -- who "wanted it made clear that he was not actively seeking a third term" -- was nominated over the strong opposition of many in his party.
Read about all five books on Greenfield's list.

--Marshal Zeringue