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Being Nixon

Being Nixon

Author: Evan Thomas

Pages: 640

Edition: Hardcover

List Price: $35

Published: Jun, 2015

Publisher: Random House

ISBN: 9780812995367

Highest rank: #18 on 4th, Jul 2015

First entered: 27th, Jun 2015

Number of weeks: 2

Book Summary

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • NAMED ONE OF THE TEN BEST NONFICTION BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY TIME AND ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY RICHMOND TIMES-DISPATCH • “What was it really like to be Richard Nixon? Evan Thomas tackles this fascinating question by peeling back the layers of a man driven by a poignant mix of optimism and fear.”—Walter Isaacson, author of Steve Jobs

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 détente 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


Evan Thomas

Name: Evan Thomas

Hometown: Huntington

Born: Apr, 1951

About the author:

Evan Thomas has been assistant managing editor at Newsweek since 1991. He is the magazine’s lead writer on major news stories and the author of many longer features, including Newsweek’s special behind-the-scenes issues on presidential elections and more than a hundred cover stories. Thomas was pivotal in spearheading Newsweek’s award-winning coverage on the war on terror from the Washington bureau. His reporting and writing on the terror events of September 11 and the Iraq war contributed to the magazine’s being honored with the most prestigious awards in the magazine industry—the National Magazine Award for General Excellence for 2002 and 2004. In 2005, his 50,000-word narrative of the 2004 election was honored when Newsweek won a National Magazine Award for the best single-topic issue.

From 1986 to 1996, Evan Thomas was Newsweek’s Washington bureau chief. From 1977-1986, he was a writer and editor at Time magazine. He has won numerous journalism awards, including a National Magazine Award in 1998 for his coverage of the Monica Lewinsky scandal.

Since 1992, Thomas has been a regular weekly panelist on the syndicated public affairs talk show, Inside Washington. He has appeared on numerous television shows as a commentator, including: NBC’s Meet the Press and Today; CBS’s Face the Nation; ABC’s Nightline and Good Morning America; CNN’s Larry King Live; and PBS’s Charlie Rose and The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer. He also appears regularly on the syndicated radio show, Imus in the Morning.

Evan Thomas is the author of five books, all published by Simon & Schuster: John Paul Jones (2003), a biography of the American revolutionary and a New York Times best seller; Robert Kennedy: His Life (2000); The Very Best Men: The Early Years of the CIA (1995); The Man to See: The Life of Edward Bennett Williams (1991); and The Wise Men: Six Friends and the World They Made (with Walter Isaacson, 1986). His sixth and most recent book, Ships in the Night: Four Naval Commanders and the Last Sea War, was published by Simon & Schuster at the end of 2006.

A graduate of Harvard and the University of Virginia Law School, Evan Thomas was a visiting professor at Princeton from 2003 to 2004 and at Harvard from 2004 to 2005. He is a fellow of the Society of American Historians and a former trustee of the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression. He lives with his wife and two children in Washington, DC.

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