- Hardcover: 326 pages
- Publisher: Harper & Row; 1st edition (1974)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 006013514X
- ISBN-13: 978-0060135140
- Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.6 x 1.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,817,603 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Palace Guard Hardcover – 1974
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Top Customer Reviews
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."
"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 ›
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.