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The Time of Illusion Paperback – August 12, 1976


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; 1st Vintage Books ed edition (August 12, 1976)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0394722175
  • ISBN-13: 978-0394722177
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5.5 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #828,351 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"A thoughtful and deservedly acclaimed meditation on the decade which, in 1974, 'finally brought the American Constitutional system to the edge of breakdown'."

Foreign Affairs

"The remarkable achievements of this book are its fairness, its attention to details, and its capacity to put the bewildering complexities of these years into some kind of meaningful historical perspective. Schell, at thirty-two, has avoided the usual partisan and political pitfalls. He has an eye for the illuminating incident, the patience of a scholar, and the gift of clear and muscular prose. If there is a better or more thoughtful and compassionate book on this whole bewildering tragedy, I don't know what it is."

James Reston, Martha's Vineyard Gazette

"By persuasively connecting the Nixon years to the larger dilemmas of our time, Mr. Schell has elevated a shabby political story to the level of tragedy. And one closes his deeply intelligent book not with feelings of vindication or outrage, but with a sense of understanding and equanimity that only tragedy can evoke."

Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, The New York Times

From the Back Cover

"A thoughtful and deservedly acclaimed meditation on the decade which, in 1974, 'finally brought the American Constitutional system to the edge of breakdown'."

Foreign Affairs

"The remarkable achievements of this book are its fairness, its attention to details, and its capacity to put the bewildering complexities of these years into some kind of meaningful historical perspective. Schell, at thirty-two, has avoided the usual partisan and political pitfalls. He has an eye for the illuminating incident, the patience of a scholar, and the gift of clear and muscular prose. If there is a better or more thoughtful and compassionate book on this whole bewildering tragedy, I don't know what it is."

James Reston, Martha's Vineyard Gazette

"By persuasively connecting the Nixon years to the larger dilemmas of our time, Mr. Schell has elevated a shabby political story to the level of tragedy. And one closes his deeply intelligent book not with feelings of vindication or outrage, but with a sense of understanding and equanimity that only tragedy can evoke."

Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, The New York Times


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29 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Eddie Kasica on August 28, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Easily the best book yet written about Watergate and that surreal blot on history known as The Nixon Administration. Powerfully -- and beautifully -- written by the great Jonathan Schell("The Fate of the Earth"), this work is must reading for all those who view Richard Nixon as some sort of mysterious American Everyman, at heart in fact the last true American Progressive. Yeah, sure. Written only two years after RN fled the White House just ahead of the posse, "The Time of Illusion" dramatizes the Nixon men and their time as the ultimate in fear-obsessed, contradictory, petty cynicism -- and leaves the revisionist "poor misunderstood Richard" fabulists(Oliver Stone, Tom Wicker, Stephen Ambrose) right where they belong: in the toilet.

Thirty years after these events, there remains something attractive and deeply moving about these overwhelmed Nixon men, trying to keep the house of cards from collapsing. And the brave, wonderfully democratic time that brought it all down. Read now, it only makes the size, audacity and ruthlessness of the current Bush criminality seem even more overwhelming. A must read.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Peter Formiller on November 14, 2012
Format: Paperback
Abuse of Power: The New Nixon TapesWitness to Power: The Nixon YearsThe six chapters of this book were originally published as a series in The New Yorker. The first five chapters are a chronological account of the Nixon Administration as it was experienced by those of us who lived through it. Today, we also have Ehrlichman's diary, Professor Kutler's collection of the Nixon tape transcripts, as well as two different Nixon memoirs, so the first five chapters seem somewhat superficial in the light of the new sources. However, "Credibility" (Chapter 6) gave me a totally new perspective on the Cold War. Schell explains how our strategy in the Cold War evolved from "brinksmanship" to "credibility." After reading it, I understood that our political leaders during the Vietnam era were trying to avoid a "domino effect" that would again threaten France (as in the two World Wars they had experienced in their lifetimes). Holding the line in Vietnam became an obsession with them because they were trying to avoid a choice between surrendering France and risking a nuclear holocaust. How did it change my life? I was a McGovern voter in 1972 who enlisted in the Air Force in 1976 where, ironically, I later participated in "war games" simulating the exact Soviet invasion of France that the Cold War was designed to prevent.
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