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Nixon: A Life Paperback – February 1, 1996


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 633 pages
  • Publisher: Regnery Publishing (February 1, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0895267209
  • ISBN-13: 978-0895267207
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,164,917 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Sympathetic toward his subject, Aitken, a British Member of Parliament and Minister of State for Defense, portrays former U.S. President Richard Nixon as a master geopolitical strategist who shifted the global balance of power in the West's favor through rapprochement with China and who achieved "peace with honor" in Vietnam. Aitken views Nixon as "an original and progressive domestic President" who ended the draft, created the Environmental Protection Agency and was a hands-on manager of the economy. In Aitken's scenario, the Watergate break-in was an irresponsible act carried out by overzealous aides without Nixon's knowledge; Nixon's endorsement of a cover-up transformed Watergate into a political disaster. First published in 1992 in Britain, this biography draws on interviews with Nixon, his aides and family, and unique access to his private diaries and letters. Both critics and supporters will find new material to ponder. Aitken sheds light on Nixon's spiritual crisis at ages 20-21, his friendly early relationship with fellow Congressman John F. Kennedy, his accusations against Alger Hiss as a Soviet spy, his interaction with National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger, and his role as elder statesman and informal adviser to the Carter, Reagan and Bush administrations. Photos. Author tour.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

In light of Nixon's most recent trips to Russia as an unofficial sounding board for the U.S. government and his extensive writing in the foreign policy area, this work gives its readers a better understanding of the man who has been caricatured more than evaluated since Watergate brought down his political career. It is not the official biography, but it could well be for the remarkable task that Aitken, a member of the British Parliament, has performed in combing oral histories and conducting interviews with Nixon intimates and the former president himself. In this monumental tome, Aitken meticulously and insightfully delves into the personality and career development of this brilliant yet enigmatic former chief executive. In engaging prose, Aitken winds through Nixon's early years, then chronicles his election to Congress, the Alger Hiss case, his Senate and vice presidency days, and his subsequent political defeats in presidential and gubernatorial races. With the first extensive use of Nixon's Yorba Linda library papers, Aitken has unearthed a treasure trove of insights via letters and other communications. A human, if flawed, Nixon emerges from this fascinating account, which could not be more highly recommended.
Frank Kessler, Missouri Western State Coll., St. Joseph
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By C. Hayes on July 7, 2006
Format: Audio Cassette
First, the book is a page turner. It is well written and entertaining. If you read this book for anything else, read it for its readability.
I like the fact that the book paints Nixon as a person. I really enjoyed his early life stories and his pursuit of Alger Hiss. His life throughout the book is nothing less than a raw determination to succeed with all its ups and downs. As most biographies focus on a characters one major event for 3/4 of the book, this book covers his life with good balance.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 6, 2000
Format: Paperback
Richard Nixon will forever be associated with Watergate, but as Jonathan Aitken shows us, there was so much more to his life. Throughout this thoroughly researched study of the most villified American President in modern history, Aitken shows that view only scratches the surface of the real Richard Nixon. Aitken takes the reader through RN's modest upbringing in rural California, to his noble service in WWII, up to the Checkers speech, through the historic Kitchen Debate, and to his amazing politcal comeback in 68'. Aitken makes the reader feel as if they were there, backing up his writing with irrefutable evidence, experiencing these amazing events in person. The author's account of RN's historic trip to China, which brought about the normalization of relations, is worth the price alone. The back-channeling required and near disasters are riveting. These revelations only confirm the enormous part RN played in ending the Vietnam War as well as the Cold War. No Nixon book could be complete without addressing Watergate. Aitken, with his unequaled research, provides new insight as to who was responsible for what. Did Nixon give any orders? Who is Deepthroat? Did the plumbers go further than they'd been authorized? What about the missing minutes on the tapes? All these questions are answered in the fairest way, with thorough supportive evidence. If you're looking for an insight into one of the most infamous presidents in American history, this book is for you. Whatever your preconcieved notions are, you'll have to agree that this is the most unbiased book ever published about the 37th President of The United States Richard Milhous Nixon.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By R.J. Corby on January 27, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Nixon lovers won't enjoy this book, as the book does not at all apologize or try to legitimize Nixon's fall from grace. Two central comments about the book:
1. Aiken gives short shrift for what readers are probably thirsting for: the time leading up to resignation and Nixon's resignation itself. There aren't nearly enough pages about this in an otherwise good effort by Aiken.
2. The book did not strike me as tremendously biased, and perhaps this is because Aiken is not an American, but British, so perhaps he doesn't have the passion and partisanship that colors many books on our most enigmatic of presidents.
For an excellent, in-depth account of Nixon's final two years in the White House, I would highly recommend Richard Reeves' "Richard Nixon: Alone in the White House." (I have reviewed that book as well.)
Aiken's account is a good overall read on Nixon, but it is by no means exhaustive. I'd recommend it as a good inclusion on a list of books to gain a good overall perspective on Nixon.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Corey Pilkenton on November 18, 1999
Format: Paperback
After reading this book, one can't help but be able to dispell the negative image associated with this brilliant president. Aitken does a remarkable job of objectively writing this book without being too much for or against Pres. Nixon. This will be a terrific book for both those that are fans of Nixon, and those that are not, or if you would like to know more about a true genius of our time.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By James Kunke on December 29, 1999
Format: Paperback
This generally favorable treatment of Richard Nixon does a nice job of offering his own words to explain the thoughts and emotions behind his fascinating political career. There are not a lot of outside sources used to add perspective, but those who are used lend some needed credibility. Overall, this won't open very many new windows into the Nixon White House, but it does answer the pressing question of what RMN himself thought about issues of the day and how things were allowed to get out of control.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Steve Fast on October 14, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Aitken clearly writes a sympathetic biography of Nixon. Sometimes he goes too far toward apology for Nixon, whitewashing his obstruction of justice during Watergate and other crimes as being unimportant because they were unsuccessful. He portrays Nixon as almost always sinned-against, instead of the sinner.

Nonetheless, this is one of the better things that I have read about Nixon because it portrays him as a person instead of the personification of evil. You learn about his character, his motivations, his family, and his many important achievements in foreign policy (such as triangular diplomacy).

The strength of the book is Aitken's access to Nixon through several interviews, as well as interviews with many other key Nixon associates--a hostile biographer was never going to have this kind of access. The author does an excellent job explaining how Nixon transformed US foreign policy from the bipolar, anti-Soviet approach of Eisenhower, JFK, and LBJ into a sophisticated and much more effective triangular diplomacy. He provides much interesting material about Nixon's Quaker background and his spiritual ups and downs through out his life. Finally, he provides a good analysis of Nixon's well-planned and deliberate comeback after his resignation.

The weaknesses should also be mentioned--Aitken often portrays Nixon's views of his opponents as objective fact, and he too often assumes that conspiracies against Nixon explain away his misdeeds. He excuses Nixon's rough political campaigns as either a reaction to his opponents or as a result of the atmosphere of the times.

Overall, the writing is interesting, although it does not rise to the level of gripping. The book reveals several key facets of Nixon that are usually overlooked, and an intelligent and thoughtful reader can see through the apologetic elements. Although not perfect, it's still the best book or article that I have read on Nixon.
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