This is the first full-scale biography of Thomas E. Dewey - the famous gangbuster of the thirties, twice candidate for president, a maker of the modern Republican party, the key behind-the-scenes strategist of both Dwight Eisenhower's and Richard Nixon's Presidential nominations.On whatever level he acted, Thomas Dewey made government work, as he made the judicial system wThis is the first full-scale biography of Thomas E. Dewey - the famous gangbuster of the thirties, twice candidate for president, a maker of the modern Republican party, the key behind-the-scenes strategist of both Dwight Eisenhower's and Richard Nixon's Presidential nominations.On whatever level he acted, Thomas Dewey made government work, as he made the judicial system work when, as the famous New York district attorney, he rounded up the city's most powerful and infamous gangsters. He was ruthless as well as imaginative, ambitious as well as able. Dewey's record deserves to be known and his personality explored. Richard N. Smith has done both, against the backdrop of the political and economic desperation that launched Dewey to national prominence while he was still in his early thirties.Thomas E. Dewey and His Times profiles the system as well as a man who worked within it. Dewey was a creative adapter and his achievements and his failures say a great deal about the appeal of men "who get things done."What is always recalled is the fateful and ironic November in 1948 when Dewey unexpectedly lost the Presidency to Harry S Truman, but his continuing enormous influence over the Republican party is less well known. For fifteen years Tom Dewey and Robert Taft did mortal battle over the soul fo the Republican party - and Dewey was the last liberal to win the fight. His predominant behind-the-scenes role in nominating both Dwight Eisenhower and Richard Nixon in 1952 has never before been documented as it is here, nor have Dewey's private activities in later administrations of both parties. Likewise, his relationship with FDR, and his agreement to bury Pearl Harbor as a campaign issue in 1944, is explored in detail for the first time, supported by recently declassified National Security council papers, memoranda from the FDR library, and interviews with Dewey's own associates.Thomas E. Dewey and Richard M. Nixon have often been compared, and there are some striking surface parallels. They were small-town boys who clawed their way to the top of their professions, who won office in spite of their personalities that inspired little public affection, who did not shy away from innovation and who cared passionately about making their party more relevant to the age. Yet Dewey had a fundamental integrity that complemented his gut-fighting instincts. In some ways he was a tougher, harsher, more honest Nixon. His record in Albany is a blueprint for Republicans who want to make government work without sacrificing humane considerations. He founded a state university, built a thruway, enacted the first civil rights laws in America, did battle against tuberculosis and cancer -- and never submitted an unbalanced budget. When he left office in 1955, state taxes were 10 percent lower than when he took the oath of office for the first time, ten years earlier.Richard N. Smith spent a year going through the Thomas E. Dewey Collection in Rochester, N.Y., and interviewed hundreds of Dewey associates, friends, family, and foes. Thomas E. Dewey and His Times is about the world Dewey inhabited as well as the party he led through tumultuous years. But it is also a sensitive and, in the end, moving portrait of a much misunderstod man. In private life, as Smith makes clear, there is about Dewey a poignant sense of what might have been, of youthful genius pressed too far too fast, an almost tragic element at work behind the cool, precise exterior....
|Title||:||Thomas E. Dewey and His Times|
|Number of Pages||:||720 Pages|
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Thomas E. Dewey and His Times Reviews
Smith writes a solid biography of Tom Dewey - most famous for his shocking defeat at the hands of Harry Truman in the 1948 presidential election. Dewey was all but assured of victory, with some of his own inner circle already planning his Cabinet. In fact, Smith begins the book by talking about Election Day 1948, and how things unraveled for Dewey. A really great intro to the book, before he went back and began the chronological biography. Dewey grew up in rural Owosso, Michigan. His grandfather, George Thomas Dewey, had settled there after moving to Niles and Jackson before ending up in Owosso. Dewey seemed to be strongly influenced by both of his parents - his mother more obviously so because she was alive much longer than his father was. While Smith does allude to this, he really never delves deeply into the relationship that Dewey had with both parents. I understand why re: Dewey's father as he died in 1927 thus leaving far less material to review. But Dewey corresponded regularly with his mother until her death in 1955. While Smith says that they were close, he doesn't go beyond that. As well, Dewey's relationships with his two sons get only passing reference. And even his wife, Frances, is a minor character. Perhaps this was due to Dewey's private nature, but I would have liked to have read more about that aspect of Dewey. Smith covers Dewey's early career well: his aborted singing career, subsequent stints as a federal prosecutor in New York City, then the District Attorney, his unsuccessful run for Governor in 1938, his unsuccessful bid for the Presidency in 1940, 1944, and especially 1948. Smith is at his strength in describing the virtues and fallacies of Dewey throughout his public life. His years as Governor of New York (1943-1954) are well-chronicled.Smith devotes the last two chapters to Dewey's influence and power within the Republican Party - working behind the scenes to ensure Dwight Eisenhower's nomination in 1952, serving as an unofficial adviser to both him and, later, Richard Nixon once he became President. Dewey began to harbor doubts about Nixon - particularly the people that he surrounded himself with and how he managed his administration. He died suddenly of a heart attack in Miami at age 68. Smith wraps the book up nicely, noting that there will always be the sense of what would have been when discussing Dewey. He came extremely close to the most powerful office in the world, but it just eluded his grasp. My view of Dewey after reading this book: not an easy man to like. In fact, probably a man who rubbed a lot of people the wrong way with his acidic remarks and lack of tact. But he was an honest public servant. Grade: A-
An outstanding book about my boyhood political hero -- a man who would have been a very good president of the United States.
Thomas Dewey is one of the forgotten figures in American politics and is explored thoroughly in this book. Dewey built his career the old fashioned way through legal victory and gang busting of the mob. More interesting than the presidential runs is actually his work at developing early thorough investigation techniques coupled with accounting strategies. These early years developed an end to the prohibition era and foreshadowed the rise of the methodical calculating man that would become the guiding light of the Republican Party.Dewey ran for office and failed for a variety of reasons each time. Although coming close to defeating Truman the second time it was a lost cause due to the public's perception of him. He was seen as stiff and unfeeling and the votes always shifted around him. While he was not the warmest candidate he was a great political operator who understood the system. He gathered as many votes as he did through his sheer political brilliance. He became the antithesis of Robert Taft who typified the isolationist branch of the Republican Party. Dewey became the internationalist branch espousing the UN and fighting against communism through economic expansion. While still a part of the Republican Party at the time he represented what his party would become under Eisenhower and develop into under Reagan. The isolationist branch weakened as time went on. (For more on Taft read Mr. Republican by James Patterson). Although unsuccessful as a presidential candidate he was an excellent governor and had the support of the people there. He kept excess funds from the World War II years and used them to develop transportation and help to alleviate crisis following the war.The final phase of Dewey's life was to serve as the savior of the Republican Party and the organizer of Eisenhower's campaign and election. In order to stop Taft and promote the new internationalist policies that Eisenhower elected himself with. It was a pro Korean strategy and an activist strategy across the world to check Russian expansion. While Dewey did not ever want to admit he had anything in common with Truman he did develop many of the same viewpoints but took them further with Eisenhower. Dewey became essentially the chairman of the Republican National Committee and served as the platform and ideals manager of the time.Overall if you are going to pick up a book on Dewey this is the perfect one. It is also great for those who want to understand the post world war II world through American politics. Highly recommended for those who want to understand how America and the Republican Party developed.
A two-time Republican nominee for president, Thomas E. Dewey dominated Republican party politics during the 1940s. Yet to assert, as does the dustjacket of the hardcover edition of Richard Norton Smith's biography of Dewey, that the former prosecutor and three-time governor of New York was "the maker of the modern Republican Party" seems an exaggeration. Nonetheless, Smith has written a thorough account of Dewey's life and career, from his childhood and early years as an attorney to his two successive defeats in the presidential elections of 1944 and 1948. Extensively researched, it is a favorable account but not an uncritical one, and will satisfy anyone seeking to learn about this iconic figure and his many achievements.
All I ever really knew about Dewey was the headline in the famous photo of Harry Truman. I found out he was an interesting and complex man, a practical politician and very forward looking for his time. If you've only seen the Truman side of 1948, you may want to learn more about his opponent. An interesting thread throughout his time as a Republican is the fight between factions of the Republican party - sound familiar?
I read this book based on watching "The Contenders" on C-pan. This series covered the most influential Presidential Candidates who did not win. The best part of the book was the first chapter that discussed Dewey's loss of the 1948 election to Truman. The rest of the book was a bit detailed and boring.
An interesting biography of a man I had heard about a number of times but really didn't know much about.
This was simply outstanding. Not only has it made be a disciple of Dewey the pragmatic reformer, but also a fan of Richard Norton Smith, a truly literary biographer.