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Publisher's Summary

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

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  • Scott
  • Scarborough, ON, Canada
  • 07-27-15

Sympathetic bio

Any additional comments?

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.

11 of 11 people found this review helpful

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Gave me a deeper perspective on Nixon & Watergate

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.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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See How Open Minded You Are

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.

Superb.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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A mind changing book

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.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Exceptional story and impeccable narration

Would you consider the audio edition of Being Nixon to be better than the print version?

Yes - the narrator has an effortless delivery, precise pronunciation, and a compelling delivery that makes this such a pleasure to hear.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Being Nixon?

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.

Which scene was your favorite?

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!".

Any additional comments?

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.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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A complicated man

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!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Well written-worth listening to

Like all new books on a subject covered many times before, this book relies on those previous works. However, there is enough new stories, tidbits and insights to make it worth listening too. Overall, it casts Nixon in a rather sympathetic light, which is nice considering many similar works don't.

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  • Phil O.
  • San Diego, CA, United States
  • 08-29-17

Really fleshes out the story

This helps the listener understand why each player, at each stage, did what he or she did. (As a kid, I was mystified by so much of this.) It lends color and three dimensions to participants, from Pat Nixon (nee Ryan) to Kissinger to Brezhnev (an unintentionally hilarious figure, IMO, especially alongside Nixon) and illuminates many scenes, from Georgetown dinner parties to Nixon's legendary displays of awkwardness, to his sharper calculations. I see these times as pivotal to our history, so I keep circling back there.

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Very baritone voice over

After listening to Ray Porter talk, Bob walter was difficult to listen to. 10/10 though.

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  • Lee
  • Sandia Park, NM
  • 07-20-17

Nixon revived

Excellent review of a major turning point in our country's political life that impacts almost all other aspects. Excellent narration.