President Nixon

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Richard Reeves, having written President Kennedy: Profile of Power (1993), as well as eleven other books about United States presidents or political topics, was drawn by his research for his prize- winning Kennedy book into writing this book about Richard Nixon’s presidency. Nixon, although the virtual opposite of John Kennedy, had an almost worshipful respect for him. Nixon modeled his first inaugural address on Kennedy’s, although lacking the personal dynamism to give it the impact that Kennedy had given his.

Bob Dole considered the extraordinary thing about the Nixon administration was not how it ended but that it ever occurred. Richard Nixon was the consummate introvert, whose quest for power lured him into politics, a field that usually demands extroversion. Amazingly, he finally became president despite distressing ethical revelations along the way.

Nixon trusted no one and was untrustworthy in dealing with others. Even those closest to Nixon did not really know him because he was so secretive, psychologically convoluted, and enigmatic. His paranoia precluded his having personal loyalties. Convinced of the rectitude of his own viewpoints, he refused to change them even when they proved patently untenable.

Reeves focuses sharply on Nixon’s presidency, using dates in it to identify each chapter, proceeding consecutively from January 21, 1969, the day of the presidential inauguration, to April 30, 1973, the day on which Nixon realized that his presidency was doomed. Nixon remained in office for nearly sixteen more months, resigning officially on August 9, 1974. Reeves deals with those final months in the first chapter of the book, dated August 9, 1974, and in a pithy epilogue. This organization allows Reeves to achieve remarkable concentration on the actual events of the Nixon presidency based upon the largest collection of presidential papers and other materials ever amassed.