Foreword Reviews

American Maelstrom

The 1968 Election and the Politics of Division

Cohen’s book traces how the current nasty and mean mode of political discourse developed.

With an election over and an inauguration on the horizon, books that explain the current political state are of renewed interest. Impossibly broad promises aside, let it suffice to say that Michael Cohen’s American Maelstrom will prove to be an invaluable tool for understanding the evolution of American political discourse into the state we suffer through now.

Opening with the end of the LBJ administration and the surprising dissent from a member of his own party, Cohen sets out to illustrate how the American world of politics was impacted by the radical changes to society that would become the hallmark of the 1960s. The historical events many might expect to read about are often given only glancing mentions here, where the lens is instead focused on the political ripples those events sent through Washington, D.C.

Tasked with keeping track of a massive number of characters and their plans, Cohen lays out his knotted subject into understandable narratives while moving smoothly from the macro level of the national mood to the micro level of political dealings.

The narration by Stephen Paul Aulridge, Jr, is well done. His clear, rich voice is well suited to Cohen’s writing. Auldridge’s various voices and accents help to differentiate where quotations have been used and to assist in keeping track of the vast number of players in this drama. The recording quality is consistently excellent on download, if sometimes distorted on Audible’s player.

This is not a biography of America in the final half of the twentieth century, but is instead a study of how a political organism responds and evolves in response to stimuli. While politics have always been nasty and mean, American Maelstrom offers a rare look into how our modern political discord developed.

Reviewed by Constance Augusta A. Zaber

Disclosure: This article is not an endorsement, but a review. The author of this book provided free copies of the book to have their book reviewed by a professional reviewer. No fee was paid by the author for this review. Foreword Reviews only recommends books that we love. Foreword Magazine, Inc. is disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

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