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 was mine."
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
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 candidate.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 thirty-one."
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 accept us?"
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
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 nomination.
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 Kennedy."
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-presidential nod.
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 House.
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 national campaign.
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 appalling."
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
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
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 secretary.
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 campaign section.
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 1960 campaign.
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."