- The Life
- Narrated by: Dan Woren
- Length: 28 hrs and 54 mins
- Unabridged Audiobook
- Release date: 28-03-17
- Language: English
- Publisher: Random House Audio
Richard Nixon opens with young navy lieutenant "Nick" Nixon returning from the Pacific and setting his cap at Congress, an idealistic dreamer seeking to build a better world. Yet amid the turns of that now legendary 1946 campaign, Nixon's finer attributes quickly gave way to unapologetic ruthlessness. It is a stunning overture to John A. Farrell's magisterial portrait of a man who embodied postwar American cynicism.
Within four years of that first win, Nixon would be a US senator, in six the vice president of the United States of America. "Few came so far, so fast, and so alone," Farrell writes. Finally president, Nixon's staff was full of bright young men who devised forward-thinking reforms addressing health care, poverty, civil rights, and protection of the environment. It was a fine legacy, but Nixon cared little for it. He aspired to make his mark on the world stage instead, and his 1972 opening to China was the first great crack in the Cold War.
Nixon had another legacy, too: an America divided and polarized. It was Nixon who launched the McCarthy era, who set South against North, and who spurred the silent majority to despise and distrust the country's elites. He persuaded Americans to gnaw, as he did, on grievances - and to look at one another as enemies. Finally, in August 1974, after two years of the mesmerizing intrigue and scandal known as Watergate, Nixon became the only president to resign in disgrace.
Richard Nixon is an enthralling tour de force biography of our darkest president, one that reviewers will hail as a defining portrait, and the full life of Nixon listeners have awaited.
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Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Mr. E. Sheffield on 11-05-17
Outstanding biography of the man
Too many biographies of men of consequence turn into histories of those events and times , not here. This is a portrait of the man from humble beginnings to the end.
I have listened to about 15 books on the Nixon presidency and it was fresh to me to hear about the early days, first campaigns etc. We are treated to an exciting narrative of the Hiss scandal.
This book was balanced and fair so unfortunately lacking in the justifiable hate for the man. Many people looking to satisfy a prejudice against him or for him will find plenty of material here to satisfy a preexisting bias but actually this is fine professional history. I noticed gaps such as Nixon's junkets in the wilderness years, his dark dealings with foreign powers especially Iran (see Oil Kings by Cooper on Audible) and the midnight prayer with Kissinger (see Nixon and Kissinger by Dalek on Audible). And was sad when we skip quickly through the Yom Kippur war. I wanted to see that but if it was that detailed it would be 100 hours long.
Overall.. 5/5 for enjoyable sweep over a complex man. This is better for not being a history of the Nixon years, it is good to see it sticking to the man not the times.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful
By Trez on 01-02-18
A leader with heart that made mistakes
I could summarise this book as a story of a man who had to free himself from his own web. Nixon is portrayed as a very capable and sincere leader with sometimes contradictory emotions who was embroiled in a complete mess. I thoroughly enjoyed this book as the narration was top notch and practically every line was compelling. I feel no need to elaborate. Enjoy!
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Suzanne R. on 30-05-17
Listen with an open mind
Being a teenage and "twenty something " during the Vietnam war and Nixon years, I hesitantly chose to this book. With deliberate objective listening, I was surprised to feel a sense of empathy for this troubled and misguided man. Even with that strained understanding, I still cannot muster enough empathy to overcome my contempt for some of his decisions and actions. If you can be open minded, it is worth a read or listen and may even enlighten on the importance of character and shared values in those we elect.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
By Michael Friedman on 10-07-17
A Fine Biography
Mr. Farrell has written an excellent biography of President Nixon using fairly recently declassified tapes and notes, particularly from Bob Haldeman and John Ehrlichman. He does a nice job of painting the early Nixon and his evolution from brilliant politician (his Checkers speech was groundbreaking) to criminal megalomaniac. In all, he was always the same, but Farrell gives perspective to Nixon's criminal behavior (the taping and illegal hounding of enemies by presidents did not start with Nixon in any respect) and his accomplishments (China opening in spite of his anti-Communist past and that of the Republicans), the Russian SALT treaty, environmental preservation, savior of Israel after the coordinated attack. This is all of course balanced by Watergate (yes, it was far more than the coverup), interference with Johnson's Viet Nam negotiations thanks to Henry Kissinger, the bombing of Cambodia, the failure to pursue the end of the Vietnam war for nearly 8 years costing tens of thousands of American lives and his knowing support and ultimate betrayal of South Viet Nam. He knew full well that Peace With Honor was nonsense, but ultimately he had no further political use to extend the war. The quoted statements and notes are often chilling and Farrell does a fine job of describing the family, upbringing (California Quaker), prejudice (Ivy league, Alger Hiss) health and financial pressures that drove Nixon to become our most famous criminal, disgraced president.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful