Evan Thomas delivers the best single-volume biography of Richard Nixon to date, a radical, unique portrait of a complicated figure who was both determinedly optimistic and tragically flawed. The "New York Times" bestselling author of "Ike s Bluff "and" Sea of Thunder, "Thomas brings new life to one of American history s most infamous, paradoxical, and enigmatic politicians, dispensing with myths to achieve an intimate and nuanced look at the actual man.
What drove a painfully shy outcast in elite Washington society a man so self-conscious he refused to make eye contact during meetings to pursue power and public office? How did a president so attuned to the American political id that he won reelection in a historic landslide lack the self-awareness to recognize the gaping character flaws that would drive him from office and forever taint his legacy?
In "Being Nixon, " Evan Thomas peels away the layers of the complex, confounding figure who became America s thirty-seventh president. The son of devout Quakers, Richard Nixon (not unlike his rival John F. Kennedy) grew up in the shadow of an older, favored brother and thrived on conflict and opposition. Through high school and college, in the navy and in politics, he was constantly leading crusades and fighting off enemies real and imagined. As maudlin as he was Machiavellian, Nixon possessed the plainspoken eloquence to reduce American television audiences to tears with his career-saving Checkers speech; meanwhile, his darker half hatched schemes designed to take down his political foes, earning him the notorious nickname Tricky Dick.
Drawing on a wide range of historical accounts, Thomas reveals the contradictions of a leader whose vision and foresight led him to achieve detente with the Soviet Union and reestablish relations with communist China, but whose underhanded political tactics tainted his reputation long before the Watergate scandal. One of the principal architects of the modern Republican Party and its silent majority of disaffected whites and conservative ex-Dixiecrats, Nixon was also deemed a liberal in some quarters for his efforts to desegregate Southern schools, create the Environmental Protection Agency, and end the draft.
A deeply insightful character study as well as a brilliant political biography, "Being Nixon" offers a surprising look at a man capable of great bravery and extraordinary deviousness a balanced portrait of a president too often reduced to caricature.
Praise for" Being Nixon"
A biography of eloquence and breadth . . . No single volume about Nixon s long and interesting life could be so comprehensive. " Chicago Tribune"
Terrifically engaging . . . a fair, insightful and highly entertaining portrait. "The Wall Street Journal"
Thomas has a fine eye for the telling quote and the funny vignette, and his style is eminently readable. "The New York Times Book Review"
Thomas proves an amiable and fair-minded tour guide. "The Boston Globe"
A measured, concise, and important American biography. Michael Beschloss, author of "Presidential Courage""
- ISBN-13: 9780812995367
- ISBN-10: 0812995368
- Publisher: Random House Inc
- Publish Date: June 2015
- Page Count: 619
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2015-06-29
- Reviewer: Staff
In this surprisingly sympathetic investigation of President Nixon's psyche, Thomas (Ike's Bluff) depicts the infamous president as a man torn between optimism and anxiety, whose "strengths were his weaknesses, and vice versa." Beginning with a 16-year-old Nixon overcoming his first crisis (a disastrous school play), Thomas understands Nixon as introverted, insecure, solitary, and self-conscious of his humble origins, but able to bear humiliation and defeat in the pursuit of his goals. Fundamental to Nixon's tenacity were the women in his life—first his mother, and later his wife and two daughters—who saw the fundamental goodness in a man often maligned by the media and whose unyielding support quietly sustained Nixon across the many defeats of his political career. In Thomas's view, the long path to Nixon's fall began with anti-war protests and the publication of the Pentagon Papers, which upset the delicate balance of Nixon's warring selves and led him to give in to his worst impulses. Thomas doesn't shy away from showing Nixon at his worst, acknowledging Nixon's penchant for the "maudlin," his "self-pity," his fear of confrontation, and his often poisonous rivalry with Henry Kissinger. Thomas is generous to his subject, contextualizing Nixon and often teasing out his well-concealed desire to do the right thing. Agent: Amanda Urban, ICM. (June)