Told with urgency and sharp political insight, Nixonland recaptures America's turbulent 1960s and early 1970s and reveals how Richard Nixon rose from the political grave to seize and hold the presidency.
©2008 Rick Perlstein. All rights reserved.; (P)2009 BBC Audio
"A richly detailed descent into the inferno - that is, the years when Richard Milhous Nixon, 'a serial collector of resentments,' ruled the land." (Kirkus Reviews)
I grew up post-Nixon and so it is difficult for me to imagine what that time frame was like. I think the author did an excellent job of telling the story in a way that you can feel the angst from both sides of the "Nixonland" political divided, because in a large part that is exactly what Nixonland is -- a state of mind. To have the reader really feel what it is like to be a liberal with an unsatisfied agenda who turns radical; a moderate who believes that everyone should be treated equal but can't understand why these groups have to resort to violence to get it (and correspondingly pushing these folks to a more conservative "law and order" bent); and the conservatives -- intent on "winning" in Vietnam and imposing law and order at home. And all the while -- Nixon is looming and manipulating the entire scene. It really does seem surreal.
My one criticism is really more of a "pull on superman's cape" type of critique. When the author is describing a scene where police/conservative forces are acting -- and where the public sees the law and order (or disorder), there is a tendency in the writing to take the reader out of that moment and say something like "and the police really didn't have any fear of that" or "the police had no evidence they were just busting heads." The psychology of these events is so important that it would have been helpful if he had listed the misdeeds that were discovered later in a footnote or at the end of the chapter.
Overall, though I really enjoyed this book!
I somewhat enjoyed this book, but the author is not unbiased. And the narrator conveys that also. I learned more about the turbulent times of the 1960s and early 1970s, but I will look for something less biased and more historically accurate-something more reliable. He doesn't always have his facts straight. One glaring example is that Chief Justice Warren, not Justice Black swore Nixon in in 1969. You learn in grammar school that he Chief Justice administers the oath of office.
The narrator mispronounced so many words that I lost count. It must have been more than 20 words (and almost all were English words, not names/surnames). For example, pseudo-intellectual is pronounced "swaydo-intellectual" multiple times instead of "soodo-intellectual". I kept asking myself: isn't there an editor that makes the narrator redo bad portions? Apparently, there wasn't for this story.His expression reading the story is fine but a narrator needs both expression and the ability to pronounce what he is reading.
A decent history that illuminates the recent origins of the factionalism we see now in our tea party/red states/blue states world. I'd forgotten the demagoguery of Agnew, and the vileness of Reagan and Nixon.
That said, the production values were TERRIBLE. It would be easy to blame the narrator, but its the producer's job to tell him when he is mispronouncing words. And the editing, with weird silences and bad other bad editing is amateurish.
But it is history everyone should be reminded of these days.
Perlstein covers riots, protests and violence in the 60s and 70s in great detail - because they were amazing in and of themselves, and because of his contention that civil unrest fractured America. Although his lengthy descriptions of civil unrest sometimes become tedius, the extent of civil unrest stunned me (I'm in my 20s), and convincingly prove his argument.
I also thought that Nixon was rather liberal for his talks with China and his creation of the EPA. But Perlstein shows how Nixon's idealogy and talking points contribute greatly to modern conservatism. Perlstein also shows how cynically Nixon used the war in Vietnam for political purposes.
You may be slightly overwhelmed by all the details in this book, but Nixonland is nevertheless extremely interesting for those interested in history and politics.
Learning about 'history' I lived through
The accounts concerning Cornell and Ithaca
Yes! Indignation! I knew it was bad but it seems that there is not even One Bit of Integrity in our Political System. They Literally ALL are Crooks! Both sides inside and out Fringes included!
They write and pass the laws and yet obviously expecting them to NOT apply to them!
I just wish he had done a few more hours worth to cover all of Nixon's Political Life as it was so close. But yes, might have been more like another 20 hours due to all of Watergate - But I WOULD listen to 50+ hours for that plus his after resignation Politics.
I really enjoy learning about both American history and Nixon in particular, and this book certainly did not disappoint. It presented a strong narrative of the 1950s through the early 1970s, filled with well-crafted descriptions of timelines and events, and populated by the interesting characters of the era. However, the main premise veered a bit too conspiratorial for my tastes at time. Nixon, the mastermind, was posited as pulling the strings behind many of the biggest events of the era. It was easy to buy at times, but a lot of important figures and their influence on events were pushed aside in favor of a Nixon over all interpretation. Additionally, the main metaphor of the book -- that Nixon, an "Orthogonian," was paranoid of and vengeful upon "Franklins," or upper class rich kids who had everything handed to them, was briefly enlightening, but more often simply annoying and over-simplified. Nixon, whom I truly believe was a monster, was nothing if not a very complicated monster.
Insider details about Nixon's crimes.
He read well and had a strong voice. He did mispronounce a considerable number of words, but the delivery was so good this was excusable.
Or, The American Mabuse
I grew up after the Nixon years, and so only know what I know about him from popular movies and TV. The book didn't paint too much of a different picture, but did fill in a lot of detail and complexity of the man and the times. The writing is engaging and not at all boring. I think I learned more about the times than the man.
Enjoyed the book but felt there were WAY too many names, dates, and details. I appreciated the perspective that was shown by including other events happening at the same time as Nixon's rise to presidency such as Attica, Charles Manson, and the Kennedy assassinations. That said, every name of every politician that ever worked for him seemed to extend the length of this book considerably. I kept listening for all 36 plus hours of this book as the topic was fascinating, but would have been fine without so many details and specifics.
I came of age during the historical period this book covers and I keep coming back to it over and over and keep finding things of interest. Worth a listen, I think. The narrator does a good job too. No problems there.
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