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Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America Paperback – April 14, 2009
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The author uses Richard Nixon as the central figure in this conflict and does an excellent job of detailing Nixon's reliance on status politics from his days as a college student to his election as President of the United States in 1972. Along the way, Perlstein uses not only military and political history but social and cultural history to vividly illustrate his points.
The book is extremely well written and well documented and, as a former history teacher, I would highly recommend Perlstein's work to anyone who remembers the sixties or anyone looking for an introduction to the most exciting decade of the second half of the 20th century.
Rick Perlstein has an incredibly witty and readable style. There are so many segments you're going to want to read aloud to anyone willing to listen -- and you'll have fun doing so because of Perlstein's excellent writing. I had to stop reading selections to my wife: after a while, I realized it was really the entire book I wanted to read to her. Instead, I bought her a copy for her own use. I know I'll be referring to this one frequently in the future.
It is an unforgettable story, told by a master writer.
What this book does have is lists...endless lists. Basically, the author did a google search or lexus-nexus search of early August '67 and then has paragraphs listing facts...
"...in Cleveland so and so happened. In New Mexico a cop did such and such. At Small College in upstate New York the students..." and on and on and on.
I suppose there's an interesting 400-page book somewhere in there, but hard to get to with this boring data dump.
The final insult was in the last couple of pages when the author flips to first person and starts about a dozen paragraphs with, "I have written..." So arrogant.
Skip this one!
I typically don't write reviews, but what a waste of time this book was. I hope this might help some people to avoid this book.
1. A very thoroughly researched, insightful, penetrating book about one of the most interesting periods in American history;
2. While it isn't completely about Nixon, it describes the man and his history in some detail and Nixon is a very interesting man;
3. Perlstein does an excellent job describing the 'fracturing of America' in a way that doesn't really take a side but provides perspective on both sides.
1. I found Perlstein's writing, on occasion, unduly dense and difficult to sift through. He often selects sentence structure that seems unnecessarily complex. Even though I have an extensive vocabulary, I had to use the Kindle dictionary more than a few times. He even used some words that stumped the Kindle dictionary. When I'm trying to make my way through an 800 page book, I really don't want to go back and re-read a sentence three or four times or hunt around for a dictionary to look up an especially esoteric word. (In the context of this review, I even feel a little sheepish using the word 'esoteric.') If I were a friend of Perlstein's, I would suggest he spend a summer reading Steinbeck.
Moreover, the book is very thought-provoking and worth the considerable effort.
Top international reviews
The discussion of Nixon's political campaigns provides a new perspective on our current presidential campaign with its attempts to capitalize on the divisions in society. Its description of the political conventions is also a good prelude to the conventions for the 2016 campaigns.
This is a balanced account that should stand as the definitive history of the events.
McGovern was truly a babe in the woods confronted by this evil, self-engrossed, two-tounged "politician". Eisenhower was right to turn away from Nixon. Unfortunately, Nixon couldn't take a hint like other gentleman would because Nixon was no gentleman. A sad, sad period in the history of the US as well as for the world.
Ironically, while many American boys evaded the draft in Canada, about the same number of Canadian boys volunteered for the US Forces - for adventure? commitment?? and ultimately regretfully.
I like Perstein's style of footnote - there are none to distract you, but sources are easily identified by going to the italiced words in the appropriate chapter reference at the end of the book.
Ärgerlich ist, dass Perlstein Details nicht immer korrekt widergibt: So bezieht er sich auf Paul Douglas im Jahr 1966 als "junior senator" des Bundesstaates Illinois, und lässt ihn erst 1954 gewählt werden - Douglas wurde erstmals im Jahr des Truman-Wunders 1948 in den Senat gewählt, und war 1966 "senior senator", "junior" war der 1950 gewählte und spätere Minderheitenführer Ev Dirksen. Da sich der Leser nicht die Mühe machen kann, alle Details nachzuprüfen, bleibt der Verdacht, dass Perlstein auch sonstwo schlampt.
Gerade angesichts der allgemeinen Beunruhigung über das Phänomen The Donald erfährt der Leser bei der Lektüre von Nixonland, dass es in den USA schon in den 60er Jahren sehr starke auf Ressentiments gebaute, politisch außerordentlich wirksame und nachhaltige Tendenzen gab. Übrigens datieren diese Tendenzen nicht erst seit Nixon, sie begleiten die USA - fast möchte ich sagen: von Anfang an - mindestens seit Andrew Jackson, der die Generation der elitären "Founding Fathers" ablöste, und der, obwohl er bei der Wahl 1824 unter drei Kandidaten die meisten Wähler- und Wahlmännerstimmen gewann, in der dann notwendigen Abstimmung im Abgeordentenhaus gegen den Elitesprössling und Präsidentensohn John Quincy Adams unterlag. Jackson gewann dabei die "Revanche" im Jahr 1828.
Zurück zu Nixonland: Wer die USA von heute vferstehen möchte, sollte dieses Buch unbedingt lesen!