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The Palace Guard Hardcover – 1974


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 326 pages
  • Publisher: Harper & Row; 1st edition (1974)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 006013514X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060135140
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.2 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,059,302 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By J. Reynolds on August 14, 2002
Format: Paperback
This is an interesting examination of the inner workings of Nixon's organization, concentrating in good part upon aides John Ehrlichman and Bob Haldeman. I bet most White House operations are run as strictly as Nixon's was -- you simply MUST have exemplary efficiency and effectiveness at that level -- though without the stainless steel quality that those two palace guards imbued.
My favorite episode was the one wherein the wife of a terminally ill senator petitioned the president's office for Nixon to visit the man on his deathbed. Haldeman evaluated the situation and determined it would be more politically beneficial for Nixon to be seen consoling the bereaved widow... so good old Bob wrote this immortal instruction to the staff member who'd forwarded the request: "Wait until he dies."
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Slokes VINE VOICE on March 11, 2005
Format: Unknown Binding
Days before his death, Lyndon Johnson entertained a group of old political acquaintances by telling them of a recent visit to the White House, now occupied by his successor Richard Nixon. Johnson marveled that while his old phone allowed him to talk to anyone in government he wished to chew out at the moment, Nixon's hotline had only three buttons.

"Just three buttons," reads the quote in "The Palace Guard." "And they all go to Germans!"

As Dan Rather and Gary Paul Gates go on to explain, Nixon would have benefited from disconnecting two of the lines, the ones that reached chief of staff H.R. "Bob" Haldeman and domestic affairs advisor John Ehrlichman. Together the two men effectively blocked all access to the President during most of his time in office, with only one exception, that being chief White House diplomat Henry Kissinger (German #3). By insulating Nixon so, they not only shielded him from a broader range of ideas, but instilled an institutional paranoia that abetted the blockheaded Watergate fiasco that brought them all down.

It's tempting to read "The Palace Guard" with an eye on co-author Rather, especially as he departs his own place of prominence this week over a scandal given the name "Memogate." Rather's knee-jerk liberalism is on display for sure, as when the book criticizes Nixon's opposition to forced busing as a blatant sop to racists while crediting him only for initiatives that revealed non-conservative thinking, like welfare expansion and reaching out to communist China. But "The Palace Guard" is not written in a mean-spirited way. In fact, it's quite entertaining for the snarky but sensitive way it presents its characters.

It's not only Haldeman and Ehrlichman who get the spotlight.
Read more ›
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Brian D. Rubendall HALL OF FAME on July 20, 2000
Format: Hardcover
"The Palace Guard" is the story of the two most powerful underlings in the Nixon Administration, H.R. "Bob" Haldeman and John Ehrlichman. Together, they rose to the pinacle of success by shielding their paranoid boss from all those with whom he did not wish to associate. And together they fell, both resigning on the last day of April 1973 as the heat from the Watergate scandal began to scorch the second term President who had been reelected by a landslide only months before. Rather and Gates's account, while lacking historical perspective, is fascinating in how it depicts two power hungry men who moved largely in the shadows. They served their boss well, even to the end when it was hoped that by their sacrifice he would be saved. Political junkies will love their story.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By John G. Hilliard on October 13, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This book covers the inter working of the Nixon White House and the two people the authors claim really ran the day to day - John Ehrlichman and Bob Haldeman. The book starts out with a nice history on the power of the Presidents cabinets during the time from FDR to Nixon and the back and forth that took place with power being centralized in the White House or at the cabinet level. The authors also provided an interesting review of the Nixon cabinet picks - who they were, how they got their jobs and what happened to them during the course of the administration. Of course following the premise of the book a good deal of this reporting centers on how Ehrlichman and Haldeman interacted with them and or caused their downfall.
The authors did make a lot about how Ehrlichman and Haldeman were in such control and the power they held, but all administrations have similar people - if not they fall into disarray. A good example of this would be the first few years of the Clinton administration until the Chief of Staff was replaced - many books have detailed the out of control White House and the mistakes that were made. I think what is unique or most interesting about this book is the underlying tone of the administration and its use of power not only to get things done, but also to punish political enemies. The book touches on that part of the administration and you see it in many of the actions Ehrlichman and Haldeman took.

The authors have a spunky writing style, but many references are 1970's based and if you were not even a teenager in the 70's it is something difficult to understand the full meaning of the comments. Overall it was an interesting book that covers an aspect that was not as well reported as the break in and cover up. I would think that it is a book that would appeal most to political junkies.
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