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Pat Nixon: Embattled First Lady (Modern First Ladies) Hardcover – Illustrated, March 2, 2011

3.7 out of 5 stars 6 ratings

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this dry and frustrating biography, Brennan, a historian at Texas State University (Turning Right in the Sixties), fails to deliver on her promise to "give Pat a voice." Pat Nixon (1912–1993) was first lady during one of the most turbulent periods in American history, and in 1974 her husband resigned the presidency in disgrace. Strongest in detailing Pat's accomplishments as a political wife, including her warm reception abroad and support of voluntarism, Brennan rejects the popular notion that Pat was a "passive figure." But while drawing on Pat's papers, White House documents, daughter Julie's biography, and Nixon's memoirs, Brennan doesn't reveal Pat's feelings about her husband's controversial career, such as his much criticized early campaign tactics (e.g., his red-baiting of Helen Gahagan Douglas). While Brennan asserts confidently that Pat "never understood why had not destroyed the tapes, why he had not listened to her advice"—raising the question of Pat's complicity in the Watergate coverup—she otherwise offers only "must haves" about Pat's feelings after her husband's disgrace. Brennan leaves too many questions unanswered for this to be a satisfying biography of a complex woman. 14 photos.(Mar.)
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


"A well-researched biography that tells the story behind that smile: Pat Nixon's steely determination to stand by a husband who failed to value her role in his administration. Bringing considerable insight to this task, Brennan had the advantage of being the first biographer to access Pat Nixon's recently opened personal papers."--Journal of American History

"Brennan succeeds in portraying Pat Nixon as a complex person and a less-than-equal partner in her husband's career. . . . [The book's] accessible prose will appeal especially to general readers, while its fresh research and sound judgments will please scholars."--Historian

". . . provide[s] insights into the Nixon family's life in the public eye during turbulent times."--Library Journal

"This engaging and eye-opening biography digs beneath popular characterizations of Patricia Ryan Nixon as a victim and martyr and assesses this reluctant first lady on her own terms."--Susan M. Hartmann, author of From Margin to Mainstream: American Women and Politics since 1960

"An insightful look at the compromises made by a classic 'good wife' whose life took her down the roads her husband wanted to travel, and a few he didn't."--Jo Freeman, author of We Will Be Heard: Women's Struggles for Political Power in the U.S.

"A richly-textured portrait of an often misunderstood first lady."--Gil Troy, author of Mr. and Mrs. President: From the Trumans to the Clintons

Product details

  • Item Weight : 1.05 pounds
  • Hardcover : 248 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 070061771X
  • ISBN-13 : 978-0700617715
  • Product Dimensions : 5.9 x 0.7 x 9.4 inches
  • Publisher : University Press of Kansas; Illustrated Edition (March 2, 2011)
  • Language: : English
  • Customer Reviews:
    3.7 out of 5 stars 6 ratings

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