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Richard Nixon Audiobook

Richard Nixon: The Life

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Publisher's Summary

Brilliantly researched, authoritatively crafted by a prize-winning biographer, this is the Nixon we've been waiting for.

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.

©2017 John A. Farrell (P)2017 Random House Audio

What the Critics Say

"Farrell's blockbuster portrait of Nixon is revelatory - filled with fresh reporting shedding new light on the roots of our own dark political moment. He shows that dirty tricks, October Surprises, and anti-elitist resentment were among the gifts Nixon bequeathed to our own presidential politics." (Jane Mayer, author of Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right)

"John A. Farrell has once again delivered a rich, precisely written portrait of the past to help us understand the present. He traces the origins and turning points of one of the most complex, complicated and fascinating presidents of the modern age with flair and narrative skill. Each page is a joy to read, on the way to a very satisfying whole." (John Dickerson, moderator of CBS' Face the Nation and author of Whistlestop: My Favorite Stories from Presidential Campaign History)

"Richard Nixon's political career has all the nooks and crannies of an English muffin: the red-baiting of the early campaigns; Checkers; the Great Debates of 1960; the comeback in '68; the inheritance and horror of Vietnam; the historic opening to China; the shame of Watergate. In Richard Nixon, John A. Farrell is tough and unyielding, yet gives his subject a fair hearing through each gripping episode. 'I'm not a quitter,' Nixon once protested, and this grand, indispensable book proves him right, right to the end." (Chris Matthews, author of Kennedy & Nixon: The Rivalry That Shaped Post-war America)

What Members Say

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  •  
    Mr. E. Sheffield UK 11/05/2017
    Mr. E. Sheffield UK 11/05/2017 Member Since 2015

    Edward Sheffield

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "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.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
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  • Tad Davis
    Philadelphia, PA USA
    04/06/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Well balanced and proportioned"

    John Farrell has written a well-documented and reasonably balanced biography of one of our most controversial presidents. He covers everything from the lemon farm and the "house my father built," through Watergate and on to Nixon's rehabilitation and death. In between he gives a full accounting of Helen Gahagan Douglas, Jerry Voorhees, Alger Hiss, Dwight Eisenhower, and the Plumbers. He maintains an admirable sense of proportion throughout.

    Richard Nixon is one of my hobbies; I lived through his terms both as Vice President and President, and devoured Watergate books in the years since. And I have to give Farrell credit for rectifying some of my ideas about Nixon. As evil as some of his actions were - John Dean couldn't have selected a more damning set of quotes from the Watergate tapes than Farrell provides - he comes across here as a human being rather than a mythological beast.

    I found only one passage where Farrell's sense of balance seems to leave him. He attacks the prosecution of Nixon's top aides - Haldeman, Ehrlichman, Mitchell, and others - as the corrupt product of a kangaroo court, charging collusion between prosecutors and judge, and decrying the jail sentences that were handed down. What kind of justice system, he asks, would send somebody like Donald Segretti to jail and let John Dean off the hook? Yet Segretti and Dean both pled guilty and both spent four months in prison. That seems pretty fair to me.

    Dan Woren provides a brisk narration, maintaining the pace and engagement throughout. I enjoyed it a lot. I'll mention one small point - a point that many audiobooks about Nixon get wrong, but that Woren gets right. Gordon Strachan was a minor player in Watergate, but he deserves to have his name pronounced correctly. His last name rhymes with "brawn," not with "bacon."

    7 of 8 people found this review helpful
  • lesley
    Newport Beach, CA, United States
    24/04/17
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    "A page-turner with depth"

    This biography is thorough and fair, yet leaves the reader as puzzled as ever about Nixon's personality. I don't think the man will ever be explainable beyond a conclusion that he was amoral and incapable of empathy, and childhood losses don't seem to really explain that. He seemed to have moments of caring and a sense of fair play...but then would turn on a dime and calmly eviscerate a political enemy. I can't say there were many new facts in this book - except for the unconscionable dealing with North Vietnam that extended the war 3 more years and cost 20,000 additional lives so Nixon could get elected. But the book flows and the darkening of his character continues inexorably.
    Reader is wonderful except for a couple of mispronounced words and a very odd tic of saying long vowel sounds in a strangulated way; reminded me of Bullwinkle of Rocky and __. It became distracting for me because the reader has a resonant and pleasant voice, and he reads with much expression, keeping the story moving. But then there will be a phrase like "green fees" (think Bullwinkle) and I cringe.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Suzanne R.
    30/05/17
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    "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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Raymond Chase
    15/08/17
    Overall
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    "Amazing"

    this is a true fact book about a terrific man. I thoroughly enjoyed reading or listening to it. I suggested to everyone, he was a terrific president.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Ohad
    SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA, United States
    05/08/17
    Overall
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    "Timely and Fascinating"

    Much has been said recently comparing Nixon and the current President. I chose this book to understand these comments in the news better.

    Nixon is a complex personality. This book is fascinating because Nixon is fascinating. Woren reads it well. The text is a day-by-day account of Nixon's own activities and actions--it provides vague historical context to the events in America and the world surrounding him. For example, Farell discusses Nixon's childhood in great detail, but spends little time discussing Pat and the girls; Julie and Tricia. They are treated as marginal figures in the great saga of his life and career.

    The text delves extensively into the personal comments and reminiscences of Nixon himself which have only very recently become available, such that Farrelll can fill in some gaps other biographers simply could not fill as a result of documents that were only unsealed and declassified in the last couple of years. At the same time, Farrell depends on the reader to know many significant details of history to lend context to Nixon's rise and fall as a politician.

    This is especially true when it comes to his elections in 1968 and 1972. The calamities of 1968 are mentioned very briefly. The bombings, riots, plots and economic destruction that followed are also only mentioned briefly. I was served well by extensive outside reading of the period which helped me understand why Nixon would be elected in those years, (regardless of his already well-known flaws as a person and a politician at the time).

    As one would expect, much of last third of the text dwells upon Watergate. There are many interesting insights there, but I found myself pausing the text and going online to listen to the "tapes", watching old news reports, and reading specific news articles mentioned by Farrell to give me more context. I also leaned on my reading of Woodward and Bernstein (and others) to give me the full picture.

    Farrell does pass some judgement upon Nixon's behaviors, but when he does so, he does it with extensive context. For example, Farrell does discuss Nixon's border-line alcoholism, but at the same time underscores how alcohol was viewed during the period. Farrell does say that Nixon's actions in some cases were illegal, but passes no moral judgement; leaving that to the reader.

    A person who buys this book looking for the author to "damn" Nixon or exonerate him will not find a concrete answer. Farrell provides detail and explication, and leaves it up to the reader to pass final judgement on Nixon as a person and a politician. Farrell makes no comparisons between Nixon and any president after him; only those that came before--again leaving the reader to compare and judge.

    Nixon's career before, during, and after his presidency present the reader with details that will help in present-day political and historical conversations. He is a colossally important person in this regard. As America continues to cope with Nixon's legacy, this text is an important study, and will lend one a much more nuanced understanding of present-day American politics.

    Overall, I would recommend this text very much to a person who already has extensive knowledge of the period, or to someone who wouldn't mind pausing and doing some research. Since Nixon lived in an incredibly complex time, Farrell could not possibly pause his biography of Nixon to contextualize in detail every historical event that lead to every one of Nixon's decisions; the book would be too cumbersome. Farrell maintains microscopic focus on Richard Nixon and relies on the reader to fill any gaps. If anything, this text makes the case for nuance and research coupled with historically contextualized understanding.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • John K. Lederer
    24/07/17
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    Performance
    Story
    "Fasintcinating and truthful"

    I have to say that was a entertaining and interesting while most of the time walking a fine line of truth.



    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Paul
    Madrid, Spain
    24/07/17
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    Story
    "Exceeded expectations, 5-star triple crown"

    I got this book to clear the fog of perception and ignorance that had been shrouding a very important political figure in US history. Readers beware! Lots of nuggets in here that will have you checking facts and googling names... a gem of a book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Michael Friedman
    La Quinta, California USA
    10/07/17
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    Story
    "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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Laurel
    Ukiah, ca, United States
    10/07/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Started out good"

    This book started out good. Well read, neutral voice. Nixon was neither hero or villain. BUT.. Just as they started Watergate the reading began to hammer and flutter and I did not get to listen to all of it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • CHET YARBROUGH
    LAS VEGAS, NEVADA, United States
    05/07/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "SO DIFFERENT, SO ALIKE"

    “So different and so alike” is what comes to mind in listening to John Farrell’s biography of Richard Nixon. President Nixon is characterized as thin skinned, vindictive, and dissembling; a description echoed by today’s President.

    Nixon and Trump appear both misogynistic, and anti-intellectual.  Both viscerally react to perceived slights.  Both have morally corrupt views of society.  Both make comments reflecting ethnic racism with reprehensible private comments.  Both attack news publishers; particularly the Washington Post and New York Times.

    However, Farrell shows Nixon to be clearly unlike Trump.  Nixon understands political and public reality while Trump clings to a skewed business and personal reality. Nixon avoids unfavorable publicity while Trump manufactures it.  Nixon exemplifies international, geo-political, and professional foreign policy while Trump follows an amateurish parochial isolationist foreign policy. Nixon is surreptitiously thuggish, while Trump is outwardly thuggish.  Nixon operates from a perspective of power-hungry self-interest, while Trump operates from "monied" self-interest.

    Ending Vietnam at the expense of South Vietnamese is a mixed blessing but Nixon stopped the carnage.  Opening China to the world is a great American accomplishment which history fairly attributes to Nixon and Kissinger.  Only time will tell if Trump is more than what he seems.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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