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Chasing Shadows: The Nixon Tapes, the Chennault Affair, and the Origins of Watergate Hardcover – July 29, 2014

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Chasing Shadows: The Nixon Tapes, the Chennault Affair, and the Origins of Watergate + The Nixon Tapes: 1971-1972 + The Nixon Defense: What He Knew and When He Knew It
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: University of Virginia Press (July 29, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0813936632
  • ISBN-13: 978-0813936635
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 6 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #36,750 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


Ken Hughes is one of America's foremost experts on secret presidential recordings, especially those of Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon. In this book he has expertly identified and explained one of the many drivers that put Nixon on the road to Watergate.

(Bob Woodward)

Chasing Shadows tells a fascinating story of intrigue, lies, and deception, almost as if out of a soap opera. It is the most detailed study of the 1968 election as told through the White House tapes that I have seen. This book is now the most complete and comprehensive look at this episode.

(Thomas A. Schwartz, Vanderbilt University, author of Lyndon Johnson and Europe: In the Shadow of Vietnam)

[I]mpeccably sourced, with extensive use of White House tapes and documents, memoirs by the various protagonists and other citations. The Chennault saga has dribbled out in bits and pieces over the years. Here it is told—or at least what we know is told, as Nixon’s personal involvement is still a mystery—in one concise, thorough volume.


Tricky Dick: The nickname that keeps proving itself does so once more here. It's no surprise to have confirmation, in a general way, that Richard Nixon was a master of the abuse of power, for which even Republicans haven't quite forgiven him. It's no surprise that Lyndon Johnson played a particularly vehement kind of hardball politics, as well. Nonetheless, Hughes, a researcher at the University of Virginia's Miller Center Presidential Recordings Program, turns up plenty of surprises in this careful analysis of tape recordings from both administrations.... [An] utterly newsworthy book.


Chasing Shadows, the best account yet of Nixon’s devious interference with Lyndon Johnson’s 1968 Vietnam War negotiations, shows just how early Nixon’s dirty tricks began and just how deeply he was involved.

(Washington Post)

Ken Hughes, the author of a new book about Nixon, Chasing Shadows, joined Kunhardt for an interview with "Top Line" and said that one of the most shocking recent revelations about Nixon is that he intentionally prolonged the war in Vietnam for political gain.... "There is I think an extra degree of openness and candor with the people who don't know they are being taped," Hughes said. "Henry Kissinger clearly did not know he was being taped and was very angry about being taped.

(Yahoo News)

Hughes shows that we still have much to learn by connecting the dots of Nixon’s angry venting and the shadowy world of national-security spying


In Chasing Shadows, Hughes draws on the private recordings of Lyndon B. Johnson and Richard Nixon to connect the dots between the crime Nixon committed to help him win the 1968 presidential election (referred to as the Chennault Affair), his myriad abuses of power while in office and, ultimately, his downfall and resignation. Full of fascinating scenes and candid conversations pulled verbatim from Nixon's tapes, Hughes's book is as compelling as a novel.

(Shelf Awareness)

In Chasing Shadows, Ken Hughes explores Nixon's role in thwarting Vietnam peace talks before the 1968 election.... In Washington... there still seems to be an audience. When Ms. [Elizabeth] Drew and Mr. Hughes joined Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, the famed investigative reporters, for a panel discussion of Nixon's resignation at the headquarters of The Washington Post last week, the line stretched out the door and down the block.

(New York Times)

About the Author

Ken Hughes is a researcher at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center Presidential Recordings Program. His work as a journalist has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, the Washington Post, the Boston Globe Magazine, and Salon.

More About the Author

Ken Hughes has written about the secret White House tapes of Richard M. Nixon, Lyndon B. Johnson and John F. Kennedy in the pages of the New York Times Magazine, the Washington Post, the Boston Globe Magazine, and more. As a researcher with the University of Virginia's Miller Center since 2000, Hughes has been interviewed on the tapes and the Vietnam War by the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, 60 Minutes, Politico, CNN and news organizations around the world. Hughes was senior consultant on Nixon by Nixon: In His Own Words, a documentary by Kunhardt McGee Productions for HBO and is currently serving as a consultant on the forthcoming Ken Burns documentary on Vietnam.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By wogan TOP 100 REVIEWER on August 6, 2014
Format: Hardcover
Tapes from Nixon were released 40 years ago. This is one among several books that bring out more information about Nixon and his presidency on this anniversary. Sadly what most of the evidence from tapes released in 1996 and afterwards leads many to conclude, is that Nixon's crimes were worse than we thought. Ken Hughes has written this book which places great emphasis on the Chennault Affair.

It seems that Nixon had Anna Chennault approach the South Vietnamese ambassador, suggesting that if the peace talks with Johnson were stalled they would get a better deal with Nixon. This violates federal law and borders on treason.
Some will feel that this book and information is biased, but for those of us who were in the military and watched and lived through the growing horror in Vietnam - we count the lives lost through such political perfidy.

Hughes covers this and the ordering of a break in at the Brookings Institute. He uses tape transcripts including those of Lyndon Johnson to present his case. We read of innumerable anti-sematic remarks and attitudes emanating from Nixon. One wearies of his constant questioning of how many Jews were in specific governmental posts or agencies and how they were scheming against him.

This is a book that admirers of Nixon will not like but it brings out some little known facts and draws some interesting conclusions regarding the Nixon presidency.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Eric Redman on August 21, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a very important book. Hughes shows convincingly that Nixon's fear of losing the 1968 election led directly to the Chennault Affair during that October (an effort by Nixon's camp to interfere with the Paris Peace talks on Vietnam), and that his fear of losing the 1972 election (or a worse fate) if his role in the Chennault Affair later became public led directly to Watergate. Think about it: Watergate grew out of the Chennault Affair in 1968; we finally know the source of Watergate. This is remarkable. And it's about time.

I appreciated, too, that Hughes neatly disposes of what I consider the lazy thinking of those who say that the Chennault Affair really had no impact on the Paris Peace talks or the 1968 election, since South Vietnam's President Thieu had ample reason without urging from Nixon to slow down the talks and tip the election to Nixon. (Humphrey would have won, but for the hiccup in the Peace Talks; Hughes shows this, too, but it was also well-established in the 1968 polls.) As soon as one starts to analyze that line of reasoning, which Hughes concisely does, including what actions were actually taken and what actions might have been taken, that lazy thinking is revealed for what it is -- very lazy indeed.

This book deserves a wide audience. I hope it receives it.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is very well done and reads in a simple, straight forward style. Ken Hughes crafts his argument in a precise and logical fashion like a skillful trial lawyer. His reasearch looks impeccable. Many Nixon writers will tell you that he was mean, vindictive and paranoid and he feared enemies real and imaginary but would that justify risking his presidency, his reputation, his place in history and his future as an emminent public figure after his presidency? The Anna Chennault explanation just seems so plausible.There is some marvelous detail about Lyndon Johnson and J. Edgar Hoover. If you believe that government at the highest level is in the hands of people with balanced, rational minds, get ready for a jolt.
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