Richard Reeves
President Nixon: Alone in the White House

President Nixon: Alone in the White House

Who was Richard Nixon? The most amazing thing about the man was not what he did as president, but that he became president. In President Nixon, Richard Reeves has used thousands of new interviews and recently discovered or declassified documents and tapes -- including Nixon's tortured memos to himself and unpublished sections of H. R. Haldeman's diaries -- to offer a nuanced and surprising portrait of the brilliant and contradictory man alone in the White House.

President Nixon is a startling narrative of a desperately introverted man who dreamed of becoming the architect of his times. Late at night, he sat upstairs in the White House writing notes to himself on his yellow pads, struggling to define himself and his goals: "Compassionate, Bold, New, Courageous . . . Zest for the job (not lonely but awesome). Goals -- reorganized govt . . . Each day a chance to do something memorable for someone. Need to be good to do good . . . Need for joy, serenity, confidence, inspiration."

But downstairs he was building a house of deception. He could trust no one because in his isolation he thought other people were like him. He governed by secret orders and false records, memorizing scripts for public appearances and even for one-on-one meetings with his own staff and cabinet. His principal assistants, Haldeman and Henry Kissinger, spied on him as he spied on them, while cabinet members, generals, and admirals spied on all of them -- rifling briefcases and desks, tapping each other's phones in a house where no one knew what was true anymore.

Nixon's first aim was to restore order in an America at war with itself over Vietnam. But in fact he prolonged the fighting there, lying systematically about what was happening both in the field and in the peace negotiations. He startled the world by going to communist China and seeking détente with the Soviet Union -- and then secretly persuaded Mao and Brezhnev to lie for him to protect petty White House secrets. Still, he was a man of vision, imagining a new world order, trying to stall the deadly race war he believed was inevitable between the West, including Russia, and Asia, led by China and Japan. At home, he promised welfare reform, revenue sharing, drug programs, and environmental protection, and he presided, reluctantly, over the desegregation of public schools -- all the while declaring that domestic governance was just building outhouses in Peoria.

Reeves shows a presidency doomed from the start. It begins with Nixon and Kissinger using the CIA to cover up a 1969 murder by American soldiers in Vietnam that led to the theft and publication of the Pentagon Papers, then to secret counterintelligence units in the White House and finally to the burglaries and cover-up that came to be known as Watergate.

Richard Reeves's President Nixon will stand as the authoritative account of Nixon in the White House. It is an astonishing story.

The Reagan Files (www.thereaganfiles.com)

Jason Saltoun-Ebin has been researching Ronald Reagan since 2001, when Richard Reeves hired him as a research assistant to help with the research for his presidential biography of Ronald Reagan. Mr. Reeves' book, "President Reagan: The Triumph of Imagination," was published in 2005.

During the course of their research, Mr. Reeves and Mr. Saltoun-Ebin filed numerous Mandatory Review (MR) requests for classified documents and Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests for unprocessed documents held at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. Though Mr. Reeves was able to make use of some newly released documents in "President Reagan," most of the FOIA requests and MR requests were never answered.

After graduating the University of Wisconsin Law School in 2007, Mr. Saltoun-Ebin returned to the Reagan Library to follow-up with his research from 2001-2005. In 2008 he discovered that many of President Reagan's NSC/NSPG meeting minutes had recently been declassified. Mr. Saltoun-Ebin, believing that history is too important to be kept a secret inside the Reagan Library, created The Reagan Files to encourage the further study of the Reagan presidency.

On April 13th, 2009, President Obama ordered the release of nearly 150,000 pages of documents that President George W. Bush had kept secret though declassified by the classifying agency. Some of those documents are already published on The Reagan Files, others will be added to The Reagan Files collection in the near future. Many correspond to the MR and FOIA requests that Mr. Reeves and Mr. Saltoun-Ebin filed between 2001 and 2005.

Mr. Saltoun-Ebin is a graduate of U.C.L.A. (2001, B.A., European Studies). During his time at U.C.L.A. he wrote for The UCLA Daily Bruin. Prior to law school, he worked for a short time at The Wisconsin State Journal. He also contributed to The New York Time's coverage of the Supreme Court nomination of Chief Justice Roberts.

Reviews

"Reeves [is] a researcher of high standards and a writer whose paragraphs can read like delicacies. . . . It's hard to think of a better introduction to [Nixon] and his presidency." Rick Perlstein, The New York Times Book Review

"Reeves has once again succeeded in making a presidency come alive. . . . [Reeves captures] Nixon's brooding and lonely personality as well as his subtle mind. With a wealth of color about key days and decisions, the book shows what it is really like to be president." Walter Isaacson, Author of Kissinger: A Biography

"A wealth of information that makes the absolute convincing case that Nixon was not just alone but isolated, walled off, and even lonely. May we never again have a president so cut off from the rest of humanity. It is a haunting story that no reader will ever forget." Bob Woodward, Author of Maestro

"[Reeves places] the reader inside the lonely world of President Nixon, day after day, like no one has before. . . . There are hundreds of surprises here for even the most obsessed Nixon watchers." David Maraniss, Author of When Pride Still Mattered


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