"Any television viewer who has seen the carefully staged demonstrations at modern conventions, with slick videos and thousands of falling balloons, can appreciate how far this craft has come....""

Haynes, an attorney and self-professed “political junkie” with a deep interest in US politics, straddles the political divide in this informative volume detailing US presidential conventions between 1904 and 1944. This title is Haynes’ third nonfiction book focused on US politics. The first half of the twentieth century was a dynamic era of political domination by the distant Roosevelt cousins, Theodore and Franklin. Haynes writes, “In the eleven presidential campaigns between 1904 and 1944, one of them would be their party’s nominee for president or vice president in six, winning all but one.”

Presidential conventions in the early twentieth century were much different than today, with candidates not making appearances or acceptance speeches after the daily and nightly meetings where the nominations were hashed out by delegates, often in confusing, loud, and colorful displays of support or disdain. The rapid ascent of technology and political will brought many other changes to this era, such as radio broadcasts, the right to vote for women, and greater participation in politics by people of color, among other advances.

Haynes’ well-researched and well-written narrative is so heavily endowed with facts that the reading sometimes feels daunting, particularly with its narrow thematic focus. That said, the historical recollections are anything but boring as they reveal the intriguing stories of past presidential contenders who negotiated the everchanging tides of power and politics in America’s largest cities. Haynes’ enthusiasm for US political history illuminates the subject matter at all times, and it’s difficult not to be swept away by these true tales of aspiring leaders. Some, like the Roosevelts, consistently won their nominations and elections, and others, while consistently losing, have still earned their rightful place in the chronicles of America's past. Fans of political history will undoubtedly enjoy this unique offering.

RECOMMENDED by the US Review

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