Jonathan Aitken Nixon: A Life

ISBN 13: 9780895267207

Nixon: A Life

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9780895267207: Nixon: A Life


The rise, fall, and rebirth of Richard Nixon is perhaps the most fascinating story in American politics. Presidential chronicles and other outside sources have tried to capture it in full, but Nixon: A Life is the first to succeed. Nixon: A Life is the first entirely objective biography of Richard Nixon. Jonathan Aitken, who, in addition to serving in Parliament, serves as Her Majesty's Minister of State for Defense, conducted over sixty hours of interviews with Nixon and was granted unprecedented access to thousands of pages of Nixon's previously sealed private documents. The results of Aitken's interviews and research shed new light on a presidency that is just now beginning to be understood by serious students of history. Among the questions Aitken answers with fresh insight are: . Why didn't Nixon burn the Watergate tapes? How did he achieve his astonishing comebacks after being defeated by Kennedy in 1960 and resigning from the presidency in 1974? What were his relationships with political figures such as Dwight Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Henry Kissinger, and personal friends such as Bebe Rebozo and Robert Abplanalp? What caused him to overcome his doubts and pursue the Alger Hiss spy case in Congress? What are Nixon's innermost spiritual beliefs and intellectual influences? What drives him now? Previously published in Great Britain to rave reviews, Nixon: A Life is the first Nixon biography written by a non-American author. Aitken's refreshingly unencumbered positions on Watergate and Vietnam provide a unique perspective on Nixon's life and his presidency. Nixon: A Life breaks important new ground as a major work of political biography. It is a work that will inspire historiansto recognize the outstanding diplomatic achievements of a man whose journey from tainted politician to respected foreign policy expert and elder statesman has been nothing short of remarkable.

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From Booklist:

Nixon's historical reputation has been the steady concern of numberless books, with the protagonist himself writing a few. Biographers range from the unreconstructed haters (Nixon Agonistes by Garry Wills, 1970) to the revisionist liberals (One of Us by Tom Wicker, 1991) to the diffident admirers (Nixon by Stephen Ambrose, 1991), and now, to pinion the right end of the spectrum, to a sympathetic advocate in Aitken. Unlike his predecessors, Aitken is a politician (Tory MP in Britain) and views his subject with a degree of professional courtesy and personal compassion that the Nixon haters lack. But Aitken seems as perplexed as anyone by Nixon's personality. "It is sometimes difficult to see where the cynical politician in him ends, and where the visionary side of his character begins," he writes. Watergate dumbfounds him, as it did and still does most foreigners. What little exculpation Aitken advances falls into the sphere of disloyal aides, John Dean the arch-Judas among them. The oft-recited preludes to that incredible crash of the durable Nixon saga--his humble family origin, first congressional races, the Hiss case, the "Checkers" speech, the lost (or more likely stolen) election of 1960--unfold in fluid, judicious fashion. How readers will react to the generally commiserative tone (Nixon was comfortable enough with the author to grant interviews and access to diaries)--aye, that can well depend on opinions formed 20 and 30 and 40 years ago. Yet readers all across the political spectrum will reach for Aitken's effective, interest-sustaining narrative. Gilbert Taylor

From Publishers Weekly:

Sympathetic toward his subject, Aitken, a British Member of Parliament and Minister of State for Defense, portrays former U.S. President Richard Nixon as a master geopolitical strategist who shifted the global balance of power in the West's favor through rapprochement with China and who achieved "peace with honor" in Vietnam. Aitken views Nixon as "an original and progressive domestic President" who ended the draft, created the Environmental Protection Agency and was a hands-on manager of the economy. In Aitken's scenario, the Watergate break-in was an irresponsible act carried out by overzealous aides without Nixon's knowledge; Nixon's endorsement of a cover-up transformed Watergate into a political disaster. First published in 1992 in Britain, this biography draws on interviews with Nixon, his aides and family, and unique access to his private diaries and letters. Both critics and supporters will find new material to ponder. Aitken sheds light on Nixon's spiritual crisis at ages 20-21, his friendly early relationship with fellow Congressman John F. Kennedy, his accusations against Alger Hiss as a Soviet spy, his interaction with National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger, and his role as elder statesman and informal adviser to the Carter, Reagan and Bush administrations. Photos. Author tour.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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