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Breach of Faith: The Fall of Richard Nixon Hardcover – May 1, 1975


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 373 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; 1st edition (May 1975)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0689106580
  • ISBN-13: 978-0689106583
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.1 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #388,037 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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12 1.5-hour cassettes --This text refers to the Audio Cassette edition.

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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Steven Hellerstedt on December 9, 2005
Format: Hardcover
"The true crime of Richard Nixon was simple: he destroyed the myth that binds America together, and for that he was driven from office." - Theodore White

In 1975, the year BREACH OF FAITH was published, there was nobody better equipped to explain the fall of Richard Nixon than journalist Theodore White. With the ink barely dry on President Ford's pardon, and with Nixon $400,000 in debt (pesky unpaid taxes) and months away from a rescuing book deal, America kept a nervous, quasi-suicide watch eye on the hermit of San Clemente. In a time hungry for explanations there was no shortages of books. Woodward and Bernstein gave us an exciting detective story, John Dean gave us contrition, G. Gordon Liddy gave hand-in-the-flame defiance, Charles Colson and Jeb Magruder gave themselves back to God, and wrote about it. Most valuably of all, White's BREACH OF FAITH gave us context.

That context takes shape as White delves deeply into the personal and political character of Richard Nixon. White's journalistic career began in China, from where he covered the Revolution for Time magazine in the late thirties. Later he would return to America and report on its presidential campaigns for a number of years, writing a series of `Making of the President' books from 1960 to 1972. Nixon ran for president in 1960, 1968 and 1972. He was a Banquo's ghost-like presence in 1964 when Lyndon Johnson overwhelmingly defeated Barry Goldwater. Nixon's career in national politics and White's career as a domestic reporter ran along parallel tracks. In a sense Watergate almost had to be reported on by White - it marked the end of something he'd spent a generation observing. White begs off explaining `the essential duality of his (Nixon's) nature... the good mind and the evil spirit.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Robert J. Crawford on June 4, 2011
Format: Paperback
In my opinion, this is one of White's better books: he hits the pavement to meet participants like a reporter should do, and has a valuable longer-term perspective to add that respects what was good about Nixon, puts what he did wrong in context, and offers an assessment of why his actions precipitated his downfall. While White has been rightly faulted for indulging in a facile nostalgia for some of his later reporting, in particular on his "friend" Ronald Reagan, there is none of that here.

First, White looks at Nixon's career and character. To be sure, he finds many faults, but he respects Nixon's boldness and drive and his exceptional intelligence. The man got where he did because he worked and had talent and some luck, not because of any privilege. He also had a self-destructive streak. Second, White acknowledges that the Watergate break was a crime, as were other actions Nixon employed against enemies (perceived and real); he abused his power, growing ever bolder and paranoid. However, White adds that none of this is anything particular new for men of power, that there are many similar examples that are perhaps not as egregious, but certainly occurred. Third, While makes the argument that what really sunk Nixon was that he was caught lying to cover it up, which violated a fundamental (and naive) idea that Americans had of themselves and their system. In other words, by his arrogance and missteps, Nixon shattered a dearly held myth that Americans has about themselves. It was less what Nixon did than how he handled it. This was a controversial opinion at the time, but it is difficult to deny it is at least part of the truth.

Recommended as a classic journalistic treatment that is under-rated.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By James Voorhees on June 25, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This may not be Theodore White's best book, but it is an excellent account of Watergate. It was published the year after Nixon resigned and draws on interviews with many of the central characters of the story. White puts the Nixon White House and the scandal in the context of post-war American politics, which he had covered in depth as a journalist and the author of classic accounts of the campaigns that preceded Nixon's demise. He also puts the events in the context of the decisions that Nixon had to make. I had not realized that the Saturday Night Massacre came at about the same time as the Yom Kippur War in the Middle East.

White seems to speed through the events of the last year--one might want more about the House Judiciary Committee--but the book summons up much of the feeling of the time. His portraits of Nixon, his minions, and his opponents are fascinating and insightful.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Bill Slocum VINE VOICE on December 18, 2005
Format: Paperback
The facts behind Watergate, the only scandal ever to take down a sitting president, have become so conflated with Hollywood myth, political posturing of the right and left, and the trivia over Deep Throat as to obscure just what Richard Nixon did to deserve losing his office less than two years after his landslide reelection.

Fortunately, Theodore H. White was on the scene to give his on-the-spot analysis. 1975's "Breach of Faith" begins strongly with the last days of the Nixon administration when a shell-shocked staff led by Alexander Haig sort out the best way of getting their boss to leave office for the good of the country while fending off former aides under indictment seeking pardons. People who talked about Watergate showing American democracy at its finest, White makes clear, missed the emotional carnage at the scandal's center.

"The true crime of Richard Nixon was simple: he destroyed the myth that binds America together, and for this he was driven from power," White writes.

Yes, people working for Nixon's subordinates did bug the office of the Democratic National Committee at the Watergate Hotel, getting caught the second time. Nixon didn't approve that, but he did approve other surveillance activities, and tried to use the CIA to pull the FBI off their Watergate investigation when the water started to boil. He listened agreeably to talk of using IRS audits for political payback.

There's one episode where Nixon pigeonholes an assistant attorney general, Henry Petersen, with a suggestion that they not give immunity to the man who would eventually use that immunity to blow Watergate wide open, John Dean.
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