Saturday, January 14, 2017

Book Review: Being Nixon by Evan Thomas

Being Nixon by Evan Thomas is an extraordinary portrait of our most infamous president. Evan Thomas goes deep into the story of Richard Nixon's beginnings and works hard to write the story of a complex person rather than a one-dimensional crook that we are so used to in the States.

From reading this book, you start to realize that Nixon became so paranoid with power and was so quick to anger and exaggeration, that his team never had a clear picture of what they were to do. This left openings for the more criminally minded in his inner circle to orchestrate the Watergate break-in. Evan Thomas does not absolve Nixon of guilt in any way. Instead, he takes pains to meticulously explain the circumstances surrounding Nixon and the paranoia that consumed him.

Being Nixon also goes through great lengths to unpack Richard Nixon's growing up. He was a hard worker rather than naturally intellectually gifted. He abhorred elitism and disliked the rich. He was petty and his pettiness drove him to more.

Too often, we judge the Presidency as a sacred seat; only giants can sit there. So, we remember the great Presidents, of which there are only a handful, and mythologize them the same way we mythologize religious figures. When there is an awful President, everything about them is bad. We take pains to point out how the system worked to cut off the cancer. It's just not true and it's not fair to the humanity of the people that hold the office. Being Nixon is the first attempt at writing about Nixon as a man rather than as solely a political figure that I've read and it's a page turner.

I highly recommend it. If you think politics has gotten dirtier, this book will show you that you're wrong. Politics has always been dirty and 2016 is no aberration from the norm. It is the norm.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the fascinating recommendation; I will follow it. The most disturbing comment I heard about Nixon was when someone talking about him quoted Lord Jim: "He was one of us." Yes he was and is.