Oreos and Dubonnet

Remembering Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller

By Joseph H. Boyd Jr. & Charles R. Holcomb

Subjects: Biography, New York/regional, New York State Government, Memoir
Series: Excelsior Editions
Imprint: Excelsior Editions
Paperback : 9781438441849, 180 pages, January 2014
Hardcover : 9781438441832, 180 pages, June 2012

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Table of contents

1. A Word of Introduction by Charles R. Holcomb
2. A Pivotal Encounter: Enlisting for the Duration
3. Getting the Governor’s Ear, and Other Necessities
4. Governing New York
5. The Indefatigable Campaigner
6. The Rockefeller Air Force
7. Travels and Travails South of the Border
8. Legacy of a Leader
Gallery of Photos follow page 82

A behind-the-scenes look at one of New York's most colorful and influential governors.


A unique figure and an outsized personality, Nelson Aldrich Rockefeller was a man whose character, personal style, and (of course) wealth shaped both his goals and how he pursued them. Although many stories about Rockefeller have been published over the years, many more remain to be told, and in Oreos and Dubonnet, Rockefeller's former advance man and personal assistant Joseph H. Boyd Jr. and former political reporter Charles R. Holcomb bring together scores of behind-the-scenes anecdotes, accounts, and observations from a wide variety of people who worked with and for Rockefeller in various circumstances. Some of them (and even the title itself, which refers to the two things that Rockefeller asked to have in his hotel room at every campaign stop) add amusing or telling detail to the mosaic of this complex and creative man. Others illustrate the personal approaches or techniques he relied on to persuade, cajole, or otherwise get his way in the rough-and-tumble world of gubernatorial and presidential politics. And all of them add to our understanding of one of New York's most lively and influential governors.

Joseph H. Boyd Jr. (1938–2013) joined Nelson Rockefeller's first campaign for governor of New York in 1958 while still a student at Colgate University. After graduation, he served the governor during all four terms in office—as personal aide, campaign staffer, assistant to the governor, advance man, chief of advance, appointments officer, and legislative liaison. In 1972, he ran unsuccessfully for Congress from the east end of Long Island, subsequently returning to the Rockefeller administration. Later Boyd was a lobbyist for the northeastern region for Pfizer Corp. Charles R. Holcomb covered the Rockefeller administration for a decade as a legislative correspondent and political reporter in Albany, New York for the Gannett Newspapers. He began his newspaper career as a reporter for the Baltimore Evening Sun before moving to Gannett's Rochester Times Union. Later he served as publisher of the Ithaca Journal and then as Director of Communications to Governor Hugh L. Carey during his second term in office. He subsequently worked at a New York financial public relations firm, Adams & Rinehart, before establishing his own firm, Holcomb Associates. He and his wife, Joan, live in Huntington, New York.


"Clear, witty writing and capable research make this whimsically titled book about Gov. Nelson Rockefeller one of the best about New York state government … Oreos and Dubonnet is a superb book about an important time in New York politics and history." — Schenectady Sunday Gazette

"The authors … have pieced together a breezy, slender portrait that combines oral histories from fellow Albany alumni and other anecdotes they gathered about Rockefeller the governor, the vice-president, the campaigner and the man." — New York Times

"This delightfully intimate portrait of New York's forty-ninth governor recalls an era as colorful and historically significant as its larger-than-life protagonist, a man who believed no problem was beyond solution, and whose fifteen years in Albany transformed the Empire State. Filled with wonderful stories from the campaign trail and policymakers alike, Oreos and Dubonnet reminds us of a time when politics could be fun as well as—yes—elevating. For both authors, this is, literally, the book of a lifetime. And we're all in their debt (what book about Nelson Rockefeller would be complete without debt?)." — Richard Norton Smith

"Oreos and Dubonnet, offers the reader fascinating insight into the era in New York State and national politics so dominated by Nelson Rockefeller. If one is interested in the fun that accompanies political shenanigans, this book will captivate you." — Richard M. Rosenbaum, former New York State Chairman & author of No Room for Democracy: The Triumph of Ego over Common Sense