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. The result is both insightful history and an astonishingly compelling psychological portrait of an anxious introvert who struggled to be a transformative statesman.
©2015 Evan Thomas (P)2015 Random House Audio
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.
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.
I didn't like Nixon then and I still don't think there is much to like, but I learned a great deal from this book and I am the better for listening to it. A biography of Richard Nixon is a difficult hand to play but Evan Thomas has played it well. His points about the good side of Nixon are delivered gently like a fly cast before a fish not harshly like a street fight.
This is an honest well researched account of Nixon that wipes away the character depicted in the press and shows the agony and bafflement of a man who really did not understand himself.
Yes - the narrator has an effortless delivery, precise pronunciation, and a compelling delivery that makes this such a pleasure to hear.
When JFK and Lyndon Johnson stole the 1960 election from Nixon through voter fraud in Illinois and Texas -- and how Nixon took the high-road and did not appeal the election turnout through the courts, which he was encouraged to do by President Eisenhower and others who believed he was robbed.
When Nixon was on the phone with Eisenhower, awaiting his answer on whether he was to continue as the VP running-mate, and he growled at Eisenhower that "there are times, such as these, when one needs to either shi* or get off the pot!".
This is a terrific story, that is more evenly-balanced and better researched than most typical books on Nixon (many of which are biased hatched-jobs, which this is not). It paints a well-rounded picture of this most compelling, complex, unusual, and effective President.
Noted presidential biographer Evan Thomas seeks to explain Nixon, rather than condemn him. If only Nixon had known himself half as well as Thomas understands him!
Maybe the best biography of its type that I have read. As with most persons who achieve great power, Nixon was a very complex personality. The author manages to present a fair analysis without taking political sides.
First of all hats off to Bob Walter for the performance. His voice adapts very well to the situation and I loved his tone.
The book is very insightful, and takes very good closeups of president Nixon. It's not just a classic history book, analysing his actions from outside, but tries to go inside the action, inside the head of the 37th president, inside his decisions. You really feel getting close to the man himself, and I feel that I have a very good understanding of president Nixon and his human nature.
It is a sympathetic bio, but I was not interested in a permanent critical analysis of his actions. I was more interested in getting to know the man, and I think the book reached this expectation.
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