(Disclosure: This post underwent minor revisions on April 3, 2019.)
ONE MAN AGAINST THE WORLD: THE TRAGEDY OF RICHARD NIXON
By Tim Weiner
369 Pages, Including Source Notes and Index
$17.99 St. Martins Griffin Paperback (Originally in Hardcover)
If you’re old enough to remember Watergate, some names are with you forever. I can recall a parody album which a friend insisted on playing for me through the telephone. I don’t remember how many times she did that, but a musical chorus with names of the scandal’s principals still repeats in my head occasionally.
Consider what we don’t remember, or what we may never have learned if we weren’t alive at the time.
One Man Against the World, by former Philadelphia Inquirer journalist Tim Weiner, covers the time Richard Nixon was President. It doesn’t explore his childhood or his “pink” smear of Helen Gahagan Douglas during the 1950 campaign for U.S. Senate.
Mr. Weiner documents the Nixon Administration time frame in minute detail. Although it’s difficult to argue that the author approached this project with a completely unbiased mind (hardly anyone likes Nixon), a level of professionalism is maintained throughout the book.
We can make embarrassing mistakes when discussing the Nixon Administration. Many of us remember Henry Kissinger so vividly as Secretary of State that we assume he had that position during Richard Nixon’s entire Presidency. He didn’t. Mr. Kissinger served as National Security Advisor before that.
Watergate is not the only milestone noted in this book. The author also documents the unsuccessful blast ’em until they surrender attempt to end the Vietnam War, followed by the U.S. withdrawal of troops.
A little known fact about Richard Nixon is that his Administration founded the Environmental Protection Agency, apparently as a political compromise with people who cared more about the environment than he did. The author notes that.
We can learn a lot from reading the right books, and Tim Weiner’s book is among the right ones.