Havel, a collector of political Americana, compiled this set as a labor of love. His thesis is that third-party candidates provide color and zest to a campaign but little is known about them. In two substantial volumes he provides biographies of all presidential and vice presidential candidates and a summary of each election. Before the creation of the Federal Election Commission in 1975, candidates were not required to register, so there may be omissions.
In volume 1 a who's who^-type paragraph is given for each candidate, but with no indication of why the person was running or what his or her agenda was if elected. Entries note for which office and party the person was seeking nomination and the year. Extensive personal information (education, career, mailing address, if appropriate) is given for some candidates; others lack even a birth date. Perpetual candidate Harold Stassen's entry is half a page long. The more than 3,500 biographies will provide fodder for trivia contests. There were 11 people with the name Adams who were candidates, from Sam in the 1700s to R. Jerry Adams in 1988.
Volume 2 concentrates on the elections, with party platforms and statistics for each election. Entries for early years are brief, listing only the names of candidates and electoral votes won. By the nineteenth century, there were party conventions, and tables show the votes for each candidate for nomination. A "Highlights" section summarizes some of the issues of the election. In later years, platform highlights are listed for most candidates. In 1912, presidential primaries began to be held, and their results are listed. In the 1792 election there were five candidates and no political parties, compared with 1992 with numerous candidates, primaries in many states, and a number of third parties with some interesting platforms--the Planet Party supported a call for General Electric to clean up the planet. An extensive bibliography concludes the second volume, but there are no indexes that would enable the researcher to find all Communist Party candidates, for example.
Although Havel does an excellent job in providing biographical, statistical, and descriptive information on those who have declared as candidates for president or vice president of the U.S., much of this information is available in other works. The Encyclopedia of the Republican Party and The Encyclopedia of the Democratic Party [RBB N 15 96] reprint the party platforms for the two major parties and discuss conventions. Encyclopedia of Third Parties in the United States [RBB N 1 91] describes more than 80 parties and their platforms and candidates. Congressional Quarterly's Guide to U.S. Elections also covers third parties, platforms, and voting statistics. Havel is unique in providing information on many obscure candidates who never made it on a ballot. Research libraries that need this level of detail will want to purchase this set.From Library Journal:
Havel, a collector of political ephemera, spent 30 years gathering and analyzing information for this richly detailed resource of American elections, emphasizing minor political parties. At times third parties have had a significant impact on elections that far exceeds the votes their candidates received. The Prohibition Party was the first party to call for the direct elections of senators. Socialist and Labor parties offered platforms that were incorporated into Roosevelt's New Deal. This set emphasizes the quirkiness that is a by-product of the American political system. Volume 1 is an alphabetically arranged biographical directory of 3554 famous and obscure candidates. Presented in a Who's Who in America format, it includes family, education, political activities, and degrees for all the candidates. Lyndon Johnson, we learn, received more honorary doctorates than John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon combined. Included are some surprising entries: Gracie Allen (wife of comedian George Burns) ran as the 1940 Surprise Party candidate; one Louis Abolatia was the 1968 Cosmic Love Party standard bearer and the 1980 Nudist Party presidential candidate. Volume 2 provides an election-by-election summary of all presidential contests. A brief summary of each election is followed by the platforms of each party and the votes that all candidates received in the primaries and national elections. The 1960 election lists the candidates of all 20 parties, including the Outer Space (Flying Saucer) Party. In addition, there is a very thorough analysis of minor political parties. All libraries should own Congressional Quarterly's inexpensive National Party Conventions, 1831-1992 and Presidential Elections, 1789-1992 (LJ 6/1/95). In addition, libraries with strong collections in political parties and third-party movements will be well served by this set.?Karl Helicher, Upper Merion Twp. Lib., King of Prussia, Pa.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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