On The Making of a Catholic President, Kennedy vs. Nixon 1960,
by Shaun Casey, Oxford University Press, 2009

Available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble

notes by Dwayne Phillips

Shaun Casey is a friend of mine. I have been privileged to attend church with him for many years. I was embarrassed to be responsible for Adult Education in that church while Shaun taught Bible classes. Shaun is far more qualified than I to teach such classes.

Early in 2009, I heard that Shaun had a book published. I found a copy online. This is the type of book that I would never buy off the shelf in a bookstore. This, however, was a different situation. A friend had written the book - now the title and subject matter intrigued me. I ordered a copy and anxiously awaited for it to arrive.

I was two years old when Nixon and Kennedy faced one another in the general election of 1960. What I know I heard from movies (unreliable) and snippets of news coverage (only slightly more reliable). There was intrigue with the mafia, labor unions, and voter fraud in that election. Still, it was one of the most narrow victories in a Presidential election in our history.

Shaun didn't write about any of those matters. Instead, he wrote about the  letters, meeting, "tracts" (some of us old south conservative Christians know what a tract is), small Bible colleges, and so on. These played roles in that close election. Shaun brings those stories and those people to life in his book. There is some serious research in here. When did Shaun have the time to do that. He was working inside the Obama campaign through 2008.

I liked this book. I am glad Shaun wrote it or I would have never read it. The stories are interesting. I recognize the names of some of the places, people, and publications. They all influenced the outcome of that election.

Nixon and Kennedy had religious backgrounds. That seems strange to write. Kennedy cheated on his wife, invaded Cuba unsuccessfully, and succeeded at involving the United States in Southeast Asia. Nixon pulled the U.S. out of Southeast Asia, cursed blue streaks in the Oval Office, and ordered illegal break-ins during a landslide campaign. Still, these two men had religions and understood how religion could influence the outcome of their race. Shaun Casey helps bring these two Presidents to life in a manner that I understood them.

Thanks, Shaun.