Just Plain Dick by Kevin Mattson
Richard Nixon's Checkers Speech and the "Rocking, Socking" Election of 1952

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Synopsis

It all started with some businessmen bankrolling Richard Nixon to become a “salesman against socialization.” But in this precursor to current campaign finance scandals, Nixon had some explaining to do to keep his place on Dwight Eisenhower’s Republican ticket, so he took to the airwaves. The “Checkers” speech saved and bolstered Nixon’s political career and set the tone for the 1952 campaign. Just Plain Dick is political history and more. It’s the story of a young man nearing a nervous breakdown and staging a political comeback. While the narrative focuses tightly, almost cinematically, on the 1952 election cycle—from the spring primary season to the summer conventions, then to the allegations against Nixon through to the speech in September, and finally the election in November—Mattson also provides a broad-stroke depiction of American politics and culture during the Cold War.
 

About Kevin Mattson

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Kevin Mattson is the Connor Study Professor of Contemporary History at Ohio University. He is the author of Rebels All!, When America Was Great, Upton Sinclair and the Other American Century, Intellectuals in Action, and "What the Heck Are You Up To, Mr. President?" Mattson writes for the American Prospect, Dissent, the Nation, the New York Times Book Review, the Washington Post Book World, and many other publications.
 
Published September 18, 2012 by Bloomsbury USA. 272 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction

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But rather than take Nixon’s strained words about his frugality and Pat’s wifely virtues at face value, Mattson neatly deconstructs the speech, which “started off a bit rough” but developed into a work of “political genius,” showing how Nixon used it to set the notion of himself as a plain man in...

Jul 30 2012 | Read Full Review of Just Plain Dick: Richard Nixo...

Publishers Weekly

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Ohio University professor Mattson (When America Was Great) looks back at Nixon as a whistle-stop “political salesman” in this panoramic exploration of egghead politics, Hollywood films, television culture, and op-ed press buzz.

Jul 09 2012 | Read Full Review of Just Plain Dick: Richard Nixo...

Mattson (history, Ohio Univ.; The Cause) deconstructs Richard Nixon's 1952 "Checkers speech," clearly describing a pivotal time in Nixon's career as well as a transformative moment in American politics. In 1952, Nixon faced pressure to resign as Dwight Eisenhower's running mate because of possibl...

May 03 2013 | Read Full Review of Just Plain Dick: Richard Nixo...

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