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John Farrell has written a well-documented and reasonably balanced biography of one of our most controversial presidents. He covers everything from the lemon farm and the "house my father built," through Watergate and on to Nixon's rehabilitation and death. In between he gives a full accounting of Helen Gahagan Douglas, Jerry Voorhees, Alger Hiss, Dwight Eisenhower, and the Plumbers. He maintains an admirable sense of proportion throughout.
Richard Nixon is one of my hobbies; I lived through his terms both as Vice President and President, and devoured Watergate books in the years since. And I have to give Farrell credit for rectifying some of my ideas about Nixon. As evil as some of his actions were - John Dean couldn't have selected a more damning set of quotes from the Watergate tapes than Farrell provides - he comes across here as a human being rather than a mythological beast.
I found only one passage where Farrell's sense of balance seems to leave him. He attacks the prosecution of Nixon's top aides - Haldeman, Ehrlichman, Mitchell, and others - as the corrupt product of a kangaroo court, charging collusion between prosecutors and judge, and decrying the jail sentences that were handed down. What kind of justice system, he asks, would send somebody like Donald Segretti to jail and let John Dean off the hook? Yet Segretti and Dean both pled guilty and both spent four months in prison. That seems pretty fair to me.
Dan Woren provides a brisk narration, maintaining the pace and engagement throughout. I enjoyed it a lot. I'll mention one small point - a point that many audiobooks about Nixon get wrong, but that Woren gets right. Gordon Strachan was a minor player in Watergate, but he deserves to have his name pronounced correctly. His last name rhymes with "brawn," not with "bacon."
8 of 9 people found this review helpful
Being a teenage and "twenty something " during the Vietnam war and Nixon years, I hesitantly chose to this book. With deliberate objective listening, I was surprised to feel a sense of empathy for this troubled and misguided man. Even with that strained understanding, I still cannot muster enough empathy to overcome my contempt for some of his decisions and actions. If you can be open minded, it is worth a read or listen and may even enlighten on the importance of character and shared values in those we elect.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
Too many biographies of men of consequence turn into histories of those events and times , not here. This is a portrait of the man from humble beginnings to the end.
I have listened to about 15 books on the Nixon presidency and it was fresh to me to hear about the early days, first campaigns etc. We are treated to an exciting narrative of the Hiss scandal.
This book was balanced and fair so unfortunately lacking in the justifiable hate for the man. Many people looking to satisfy a prejudice against him or for him will find plenty of material here to satisfy a preexisting bias but actually this is fine professional history. I noticed gaps such as Nixon's junkets in the wilderness years, his dark dealings with foreign powers especially Iran (see Oil Kings by Cooper on Audible) and the midnight prayer with Kissinger (see Nixon and Kissinger by Dalek on Audible). And was sad when we skip quickly through the Yom Kippur war. I wanted to see that but if it was that detailed it would be 100 hours long.
Overall.. 5/5 for enjoyable sweep over a complex man. This is better for not being a history of the Nixon years, it is good to see it sticking to the man not the times.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful