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Nixon Agonistes: The Crisis of the Self-Made Man Paperback – November 14, 2002


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 640 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books; 1 edition (November 14, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0618134328
  • ISBN-13: 978-0618134328
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.5 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #107,076 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Astonishing . . . a stunning attempt to possess that past, that we may all of us escape it." -- John Leonard, New York Times Book Review The New York Times Book Review

About the Author

GARRY WILLS, a distinguished historian and critic, is the author of numerous books, including the Pulitzer Prize-winning Lincoln at Gettysburg, Saint Augustine, and the best-selling Why I Am a Catholic. A regular contributor to the New York Review of Books, he has won many awards, among them two National Book Critics Circle Awards and the 1998 National Medal for the Humanities. He is a history professor emeritus at Northwestern University.

More About the Author

Garry Wills is one of the most respected writers on religion today. He is the author of Saint Augustine's Childhood, Saint Augustine's Memory, and Saint Augustine's Sin, the first three volumes in this series, as well as the Penguin Lives biography Saint Augustine. His other books include "Negro President": Jefferson and the Slave Power, Why I Am a Catholic, Papal Sin, and Lincoln at Gettysburg, which won the Pulitzer Prize.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

39 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Stanley Allen on July 28, 1998
Format: Hardcover
It's too bad that this book is out of print. Probably it stopped selling because of its title -- people must have assumed that it was only relevant for the Nixon era. Not so! The book is valuable today for the evocation of the early part of that time (especially the summer of 1968), but more than that, it is a masterful analysis of that collection of shared intellectual assumptions that make up a great deal of American political (and other) impulses -- specifically, that set of post-Lockean interpretations of social, moral, economic and political life which fall under the rubric of "liberalism". Wills details the connection between Nixon and this background, and the results are far-ranging. Many of the great American assumptions about life are implicated and their mythical foundations revealed: equality of economic opportunity, electoral "mandates", democracy via fair elections in countries that do not have them, fair competition of ideas in academia, and others. Wills leaves no stone unturned. The book deserves to be reprinted again.
Original review above was July 1998; Below added Jan 2003:
Hurrah! It's back in print! Get your copy before it disappears again!
I should have mentioned that, in addition to the fun of watching Wills dismantle the superstructure of liberalism, the book provides great pleasure through its style. Wills writes non-fiction better than most poets write sonnets.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Stuart Thiel on February 5, 2011
Format: Paperback
I just discovered this fabulous book. The title suggests it's about Nixon, but really it's a first-rough-draft analysis of the Sixties. How could a young punk like Garry Wills understand the chaos of 1968 so well that now, forty years later, his analysis holds up well?

Tom Wolfe and Hunter S. Thompson are flamboyant, easy reads. Reading Garry Wills is more like reading epic poetry. You have to work at it, but it's worth it.

They had some great journalists in those days. Too bad we didn't have their like during the Bush years.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Michael E. McCarthy on June 12, 2006
Format: Paperback
A colleague just asked me if this is an apologia of Nixon - it is not. I read this and most of the other burst of books that came out in the 1970s right after Watergate, and they were all great reads, especially with the fire of those times still burning -- and Nixon Agonistes was one of the enduring best, engrossing and well rounded. Nixon was a peculiar character but Wills does a good job of being the good historian, with balance and insight. And as I say, it was engrossing -- I read it all the way through. College poly-sci majors in particular should add this to their must-read list.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Larkin Breed on April 29, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
in my copy of "nixon agonistes"(2002 paperback edition), gary wills does not repeat nixon's famous statement after his 1962 defeat in california: "you won't have richard nixon to kick around anymore.". he describes the rest of the press conference as usually reported. is this true of all editions of the book and, if so, why? any info. is appreciated.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A series of magazine articles about the 1968 Republican nomination for president. The absolutely best ones are those on Nixon.

A wide ranging study of Richard Nixon -- the man, the career, and the times that shaped both the man and the career. It is uncanny in the way it a foreshadows Nixon's self-destructive impulses: his paranoia, his introversion, his secrecy, his distrust, his self-doubts, his insecurities which combined to lead him to Watergate's half-truths, deceits, prevarications, denials, lies, enemies list, and so on.

The Nixon that emerges from these pages is hardworking, and always over-prepared for everything, a man who scripted and edited his every word and gesture. If he seemed wooden and without spontaneity it is because he was his own puppet master, jerking the wires to jaw and arm. Supposing himself to lack the assets of others (the personal charm of Charles Percy, the grace of William Scranton, the wit of Adlai Stevenson, the courage of John Lindsay, the gravitas of Robert Taft, the respect accorded Dwight Eisenhower, the dignity of George Romney, the mental agility of Harold Stassen, the experience of Henry Cabot Lodge, the wealth of Nelson Rockefeller, the good looks of John Kennedy) Nixon compensated for all these these gifts bestowed on others by working longer and harder than anyone else with that famous "iron butt." Everything he ever did in public was practiced, rehearsed, revised, practiced, rejected, redone, and so on until he reached the robotic result we all saw.

He would never give in to the human impulse to look at his watch while listening to a voter rant as George Bush (once did and was excoriated for so doing).
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