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This is a very readable and surprisingly sympathetic bio of Nixon. More than most bios of RMN, Thomas devotes as much space to trying to unravel and understand Nixon’s complex and flawed character as he does to the historical record. Thankfully, he has the good sense to rely on the insights and comments (often humorous) of Nixon’s contemporaries in painting a picture of the Nixon personality rather than allowing himself to veer into psychobabble. After reading Being Nixon, I still can’t say I fully understand the man and his contradictions but this is probably as close as any bio will come. If I had a criticism it would be that like most presidential bios, scant time and space is devoted to the post-presidential life of Nixon though I was certainly eager for more details than what was given around, for instance, his reaction to being pardoned, how he dealt with his downfall and attempts to rehabilitate himself, and the Frost/Nixon interviews. Despite this, I quite enjoyed Being Nixon and recommend it.
11 of 11 people found this review helpful
I was in high school during Watergate and watched most of the Senate hearings. This book helped me to see Nixon as a person and to revisit that era through the eyes of an adult. At the time, I saw all of people in the Nixon administration as one monolithic block, but now I see that they were competing individuals with various motives, rivalries, and animosities. And I learned that Nixon foes such as Katharine Graham and Ben Bradlee had personal animosities toward Nixon, whereas before I had seen them purely as altruistic heroes.
I was able to empathize with the early Nixon, in that I am also clumsy and sometimes feel uncertain in social situations. So having come to empathize with him, I was disappointed to learn how vindictive he became and how much he lost his moral compass as president. Yet I had always thought of him as villain, so I shouldn't have been surprised.
The book also helped me to appreciative Nixon's accomplishments as president, especially in foreign policy.
Bob Walter did an excellent job of capturing Nixon's cadence.
There were some funny parts that had me laughing out loud.
7 of 7 people found this review helpful