Cast of Characters
Joseph Alsop—Fifty-year-old syndicated columnist. Brother of
Stewart Alsop. Blue-blooded establishment Republican. JFK's
neighbor and enthusiastic supporter.
Bobby Baker—"Little Lyndon." Secretary of the U.S. Senate.
Lyndon Johnson's thirty-two-year-old South Carolina-born right-
hand man .
Chester Bowles—Fifty-nine-year-old liberal Connecticut
congressman. JFK's naively idealistic foreign adviser.
Ben Bradlee—Boston Brahmin. Salty thirty-nine-year-old
Harvard-educated Newsweek correspondent. JFK's Georgetown
neighbor, companion, and confidant. "Little by little," Bradlee would
say, "it was accepted by the rest of Newsweek . . . that Kennedy
Edmund G. "Pat" Brown—California's Democratic governor.
JFK's erstwhile but unreliable ally in his quest for the nomination. In
Bobby Kennedy's judgment the fifty-five-year-old Brown remains
"a leaning tower of putty."
Murray M. Chotiner—Veteran Nixon campaign hatchet man.
Skewered by RFK in congressional hearings, Chotiner is now
shunted aside by the "new" Nixon.
Clark Clifford—Fifty-five-year-old former Truman White House
counsel and campaign aide. Washington power broker. Symington
campaign adviser. Kennedy family lawyer.
John B. Connally—LBJ's tough, charismatic, and capable forty-
three-year-old campaign manager. "Big Jawn," observes LBJ, could
"leave more dead bodies in the field with less remorse than any
politician I ever knew."
Professor Archibald Cox—Thirty-eight-year-old Harvard law
professor. Head of JFK's academic speechwriting team. Cox crafts
late-campaign statements regarding Cuba that will infuriate Nixon.
Richard Cardinal Cushing—Boston's very political, very pro-
Kennedy sixty-five-year-old Roman Catholic archbishop of Boston.
"I'll tell you who elected John Kennedy," Cushing boasts. "It was his
father, Joe, and me, right here in this room . . ."
Mayor Richard J. Daley—JFK's faithful—and invaluable—
Chicago ally. "With a little bit of luck and the help of a few close
friends," the fifty-eight-year-old Daley assures JFK on election
night, "you're going to carry Illinois."
Sammy Davis Jr.—Frank Sinatra's black Rat Pack buddy. "I . . .
would do all in my power to help [JFK]," says the thirty-four-year-
old Davis, "even if I were called upon to make a great personal
sacrifice." Even if it means deferring his marriage to a white woman
until after JFK's election.
Dwight D. Eisenhower—Supreme commander of Allied troops at
Normandy. Liberator of Europe. Two-term, two-heart-attack,
seventy-year-old president of the United States—and exceedly
reluctant supporter of Richard Nixon to succeed him. "Goddammit,"
Ike finally explodes, "he looks like a loser to me!"
John D. Erhlichman—Thirty-five-year-old Seattle attorney.
Recruited by his UCLA classmate and fellow Christian Scientist
Bob Haldeman to work as a Nixon advance man--with a specialty
of spying on the Rockefeller and Kennedy camps. "Campaigning,"
Erhlichman gleefully explains, "was like running away to the circus."
Judith Campbell (Exner)—Ravishing twenty-six-year-old
Hollywood divorce and—thanks to Frank Sinatra--JFK's latest
mistress. "Do you think you could love me?" JFK coos. "I'm afraid I
could," she whispers back.
Robert H. Finch—Thirty-five-year-old California attorney.
Nixon's ablest campaign aide.
John Kenneth Galbraith—Fifty-two-year-old bestselling Harvard
economist. Erstwhile Stevensonian. JFK speechwriter and
convention floor manager.
Sam "Momo" Giancana—An unusually thuggish Chicago
mobster, even by Chicago standards. In RFK's words the fifty-two-
year-old "chief gunman for the group that succeeded the Capone
mob." Judith Exner is Momo's mistress. Jack Kennedy is Momo's
Barry M. Goldwater—Fifty-one-year-old U.S. Senator from
Arizona. Tough-talking right-wing GOP standard-bearer. Author of
1960's best-selling The Conscience of a Conservative.
Increasingly frustrated with the Eisenhower-Nixon brand of "me-
too" Republicanism, Goldwater nonetheless lectures conservatives
to "grow up" and support Nixon.
Philip Graham—Forty-five-year-old Washington Post publisher.
Influential LBJ backer.
H. R. "Bob" Haldeman—Rising star in the Nixon campaign
apparatus. Brutally tough thirty-six-year-old brush-cut J. Walter
Thompson advertising executive. Richard Nixon's chief advance
man. The Haldeman-Nixon relationship, says one observer, is
"darkness reaching for darkness."
Leonard W. Hall—Former Republican national chairman and
Richard Nixon's longtime champion and advocate. Perhaps the
GOP's savviest political operative. In 1960, Nixon repays the sixty-
year-old Hall by largely ignoring his counsel.
Lou Harris—JFK's thirty-nine-year-old house campaign pollster.
His off-kilter predictions in Wisconsin and West Virginia jeopardize
the Kennedy effort.
Don Hewitt—Thirty-seven-year-old CBS News producer—in
charge of the crucial first installment of 1960's "great debates."
Jimmy Hoffa—Forty-seven-year-old corrupt Teamsters union
boss. Sworn enemy of the Kennedy brothers—particularly Bobby.
"As Mr. Hoffa operates [the Teamsters]," RFK writes, "this is a
conspiracy of evil."
J. Edgar Hoover—Longtime FBI director. Keeper of the secrets.
The sixty-five-year-old Hoover knows all about JFKs fling with a
suspected Nazi spy—and JFK knows he knows.
Howard Hughes—Americas singularly most bizarre and reclusive
billionaire. Kennedy operatives will expose the fifty-four-year-old
Hughes's suspicious loan to Richard Nixon's older brother Donald—
in an "October surprise" designed to derail Nixon's chances.
Hubert H. Humphrey—Fifty-one-year-old U.S. senator from
Minnesota. Passionately ebullient liberal. Pioneer civil rights
advocate. JFK's financially outgunned opponent in the Wisconsin
and West Virginia primaries. "I feel," Humphrey complains, "like an
independent merchant competing against a chain store."
Dr. Arnold A. Hutschnecker—Sixty-two-year-old German-born
Park Avenue psychotherapist, and Vice President Richard Nixon's
secret shrink. "Fear," Hutschnecker reveals, "was a virus that
infected Nixon's life."
Max "Dr. Feelgood" Jacobson—JFK's sixty-year-old, German-
born, celebrity-treating, amphetamine-injecting physician. He was,
notes his own nurse, a "quack," a "butcher."
Lady Bird Johnson—"Lyndon Johnson's forty-nine-year-old wife.
The key to his Texas broadcasting fortune. A woman strangely
tolerant of her husband's indiscretions. "Lyndon loved people,"
Lady Bird explains. "It would be unnatural for him to withhold love
from half the people."
Lyndon Baines Johnson—The ultimate politico, Lyndon seldom
thinks of politics "more than 18 hours a day." "Master of the
Senate" as its fifty-two-year-old majority leader—but suspected by
the nation's liberals. Mercurially tempered and maddeningly
indecisive as a presidential candidate. "We ran a halfhearted
campaign . . . ," said John Connally, "because we had a halfhearted
candidate." Halfhearted as a presidential candidate—and
brokenhearted as JFK's vice-presidential candidate.
Edward M. "Teddy" Kennedy—Youngest—just twenty-eight—
of the Kennedy clan and JFK's hardworking Western states
organizer. In awe of brother Jack. Frank Sinatra is not impressed
by Teddy's choice of women.
Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy—Jack Kennedy's beautiful thirty-
one-year-old blue-blooded wife. Very pregnant during the 1960
campaign, very cheated upon, and very uncomfortable in the public
eye. "feel as though I had just turned into a piece of public
property," she says. "It's really frightening to lose your anonymity at
John Fitzgerald Kennedy—Forty-three-year-old Harvard-
educated scion of a nouveau riche Boston Irish family. Hero of PT-
109. Pulitzer Prize-winning author. Democratic U.S. senator from
Massachusetts with an undistinguished record (save for
absenteeism) and suspect liberal credentials. Photogenic,
charismatic, charming, bright, and Catholic—but also seriously, and
recklessly, adulterous. JFK's older brother Joe Jr. was supposed to
be the presidential candidate. But Joe is dead, and now JFK carries
the family banner into the 1960 campaign.
Joseph Patrick Kennedy Sr.—JFK's sociopathically ambitious
and grasping seventy-two-year-old arch-capitalist father. Boston
banker, movie mogul, bootlegger, anti-Semite, isolationist, "de,
blatant and ignorant in everything he did or said." Joe will do—and
spend—anything to capture the White House for his family.
Robert F. Kennedy—JFK's ruthless, fanatically loyal, and often
quite unpleasant thirty-four-year-old younger brother. Racket-
busting Senate investigator, former aide to Red-hunting Senator Joe
McCarthy. "Bobby's my boy," Joe Kennedy boasts. "When Bobby
hates you, you stay hated."
Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy—JFK's seventy-year-old mother.
Daughter of Boston's legendary mayor John F. "Honey Fitz"
Fitzgerald, and wife of Joseph P. Kennedy. Fanatically religious.
Strangely distant from her large family. Still socially insecure. "Tell
me," she demands, "when are the nice people of Boston going to
Martin Luther King Jr.—Charismatic, eloquent thirty-one-year-
old leader of the Southern civil rights movement. King's Atlanta sit-
in arrest—and JFK's and Nixon's antipodal responses to it—
dramatically shift 1960's black vote. Nixon, King observes, "has a
genius for convincing you he is sincere . . . if Richard Nixon is not
sincere, he is the most dangerous man in America."
Herbert G. Klein—Forty-two-year-old former San Diego
newspaper editor and Nixon's low-key but increasingly frustrated
press secretary—both at the press and at his own candidate.
Patricia Kennedy Lawford—JFK's thirty-six-year-old sister.
Married to Hollywood's Peter Lawford.
Peter Lawford—Fading thirty-seven-year-old English-born movie
star and husband of JFK' sister Patricia—"the brother-in-Lawford."
Sinatra Rat Pack member.
Henry Cabot Lodge Jr.—Fifty-eight-year-old Boston Brahmin.
JFK's vanquished opponent in Massachusetts's 1952 senatorial
campaign. Ike's ambassador to the United Nations. Dick Nixon's
patrician, liberal, but ill-considered choice for the vice-presidential
Eugene J. McCarthy—Forty-four-year-old liberal U.S. senator
from Minnesota. His eloquent nominating speech for Adlai
Stevenson ignites the 1960 Democratic Convention—though
McCarthy is really fronting for LBJ. "I should be the candidate for
President," the ambitious McCarthy boasts. "I'm twice as liberal as
Humphrey, twice as smart as Symington, and twice as Catholic as
Senator Wayne Morse—Sixty-year-old maverick Oregon
Democratic U.S. senator. JFK's weak competition in the Maryland
and Oregon primaries.
Senator Thruston Morton—Fifty-two-year-old Republican
national chairman. The Kentucky moderate covets the GOP vice-
Bill Moyers—Lyndon Johnson's marvelously talented and
doggedly loyal twenty-six-year-old boy-wonder personal assistant.
LBJ's liaison to the Kennedy campaign.
F. Donald Nixon—Richard Nixon's ne'er-do-well younger
brother. Originator of the "Nixonburger." Recipient of a
controversial loan that helps sink his brother's chances for the White
Patricia Ryan Nixon—Richard Nixon's forty-eight-year-old
"Republican cloth coat" wife. A potential First Lady frustrated by
the political life.
Richard Milhous Nixon—"Tricky Dick." Forty-seven-year-old
former California congressman and senator. Hero of the Alger Hiss
espionage case. Ruthless campaigner. Tearful survivor of the
Checkers incident. Dwight Eisenhower's Uriah Heep-like vice
president. The 1960 Republican nominee. Hampered by a bad
knee and worse makeup and strategy, he spectacularly loses the
first debate to JFK. Jack Kennedy, says John Kenneth Galbraith,
"felt sorry for Nixon because he does not know who he is, and at
each stop he has to decide which Nixon he is at the moment—
which must be very exhausting."
Lawrence F. O'Brien—Veteran JFK campaign aide. "Tough but
amiable." Master of volunteer efforts. Director of Kennedy's 1960
Kenneth P. O'Donnell—RFK's Harvard classmate and JFK's
campaign scheduler. He looked, muses Arthur Schlesinger, "like
one of the young IRA men in trenchcoats in . . . The Informer."
Thomas P. "Tip" O'Neill—Boston Irish congressman. Skeptical
observer of JFK's rise to power. "I've never," Tip will say, "seen a
congressman get so much press while doing so little work."
Dr. Norman Vincent Peale—One of America's most popular—
and powerful—Protestant clergymen. The sixty-two-year-old
Peale's anti-JFK, anti-Catholic campaign statement ignites a
firestorm. "I find Paul appealing," quips Adlai Stevenson, "and Peale
David F. Powers—Longtime JFK crony; a campaign aide with no
real role beyond traveling companion and raconteur.
Sam Rayburn—Seventy-eight-year-old Speaker of the House of
Representatives. LBJ's chief booster for the White House, the
Texas-born "Mr. Sam" doubts a Catholic can be elected president.
"If we have to have a Catholic [for vice president]," Rayburn says in
1956, "I hope we don't have to take that little pissant Kennedy."
George Reedy—LBJ's forty-three-year-old long-suffering press
Walter P. Reuther—President of the United Auto Workers.
Wary of JFK in 1956 (when Kennedy asks how to garner UAW
backing, Reuther snaps, "Improve your voting record.". More wary
of LBJ in 1960.
Jackie Robinson—First black to play in modern Major League
Baseball. Aggressive on the diamond and for civil rights. Not
impressed by JFK. For Hubert Humphrey in the primaries and
Richard Nixon in November. Publicly, the forty-one-year-old
Robinson says, "Kennedy is not fit to be President." Privately, he
fumes: "Nixon doesn't deserve to win."
Nelson Aldrich Rockefeller—Fifty-two-year-old heir to the
Rockefeller billions. Maverick liberal Republican New York
governor. "I hate the thought," Rocky says, "of Dick Nixon being
president." Rockefeller's machinations threaten to disrupt 1960's
Republican National Convention.
Eleanor Roosevelt—FDR's still passionately activist widow. The
keeper of the flame for New Deal Democrats—and for Adlai
Stevenson. Seventy-six-year-old Eleanor cannot forgive JFK's
friendship with Senator Joe McCarthy. She has no respect for
"someone who understands what courage is and admires it but has
not quite the independence to have it."
Franklin D. Roosevelt Jr.—FDR's forty-six-year-old son.
Former Manhattan congressman. JFK's bought-and-paid-for
hatchet man against Hubert Humphrey ("I don't know where he was
in World War II") in the West Virginia primary.
James M. Rowe—Fifty-one-year-old former New and Fair
Dealer. Longtime LBJ ally. In 1960, a staffer first for Humphrey,
then for Johnson.
Pierre Salinger—Plucky Pierre, JFK's thirty-five-year-old rotund,
self-confident, thrice-married, sophisticated—but chronically
unorganized and often temperamental—San Francisco-born press
Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr.—Forty-three-year-old Pulitzer Prize-
winning, politically ambitious Harvard historian. Schlesinger leads
the "egghead" switch from Adlai to JFK. "Arthur's attitude toward
Stevenson," observed an old friend, "seemed to be similar to that of
a man who has left his wife and run off with a new woman."
Eunice Kennedy Shriver—JFK's tough-minded thirty-nine-year-
old sister. Wife of R. Sargent Shriver. "If she'd been a little older,"
recalled a family friend, "and if it had been like today . . . I suspect
the history of the Kennedy clan would have been quite different."
R. Sargent "Sarge" Shriver—Forty-five-year old Yale-
educated husband of JFK's sister Eunice. Manager of the family's
Chicago Merchandise Mart property. Head of JFK's civil rights
Frank Sinatra—The Chairman of the Board. Swinging,
swaggering, forty-four-year-old leader of Hollywood's Rat Pack.
For Jack Kennedy all the way. The attraction is mutual. "Let's just
say the Kennedys are interested in the lively arts," observes Peter
Lawford, "and that Sinatra is the liveliest art of all."
Stephen E. Smith—Thirty-three-year-old husband of JFK's sister
Jean. Scion of a wealthy New York City maritime family—upper-
class but hard-boiled. Brilliant, ruthless finance chairman of JFK's
Theodore C. Sorensen—Jack Kennedy's thirty-two-year-old
eloquent, brilliant, and loyal Nebraska-born speechwriter and
special assistant. Ask not who provides JFK's finest rhetoric—it's
usually Ted Sorensen.
Adlai E. Stevenson—Sixty-year-old, twice-failed Democratic
presidential nominee. Beloved for his wit and erudition. In 1960, still
the favored candidate of Eleanor Roosevelt, the party's liberal
"egghead" wing" and Nikita Khrushchev. The Hamlet of American
politics, more coy now than ever: "If I said I'd accept a draft, I'd be
courting it; if I said I would not, I'd be a 'draft evader.'"
Senator Stuart Symington—Moderate fifty-nine-year-old
Democratic U.S. senator from Missouri. Like JFK, a critic of Ike's
alleged "missile gap." Halfhearted, lackluster candidate for
president—and then vice president.
Dr. Janet G. Travell—JFK's physician. An expert on skeletal
muscle pain. During the campaign, the fifty-eight-year-old Travell
declares, "John F. Kennedy has not, nor has he ever had . . .
Addison's disease." It's a lie.
Harry S Truman—The salty seventy-six-year-old former "buck
stops here" president. Harry likes Stu Symington, has contempt for
Adlai Stevenson and Jack Kennedy, and loathes Joe Kennedy—
but, ever the partisan, his flames of pure hatred for Ike and Dick
burn brighter still.
Harris Wofford—Forty-four-year-old Yale-educated Notre
Dame law professor. Kennedy civil rights adviser. When Martin
Luther King is jailed in Georgia, Wofford convinces Sargent Shriver
that JFK must phone Coretta Scott King in sympathy. "You dumb
—," Bobby Kennedy storms at Shriver, "you've blown the election."