Jorge, April 17, 2009 (view all comments by Jorge)
Nixonland is Rick Perlstein's follow-up to "Before the Storm", which focused largely on Barry Goldwater's 1964 campaign. Though I preferred Perlstein's earlier book this one is pretty damn good. I was born in the 1980s and thus have no first-hand knowledge of what was going on in the 60s and early 70s. Perlstein does a very good job at drawing a vivid portrait of the state of the union at that period. After reading this book, I felt like I had learned a thing or two about why things happened the way they did--why the backlash against civil rights came about, why conservatism reemerged as it did after Goldwater's disastrous campaign, why Nixon managed to become so popular and how he helped define the political landscape.
The book doesn't quite manage the cohesion of its predecessor, though Nixonland manages to paint an accurate and messy picture of America during the Nixon era. It's quite readable, and the detail on display here is impressive.
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ann-locates, April 22, 2008 (view all comments by ann-locates)
Perlstein tries hard to allow reader to discern truth but sublimal message comes through anyway.
When writing about events that many can still remember watching on television, media hype and political posturing have left a generation able to tell it like it is but somehow not like it was.
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"Publishers Weekly Review"
by Publishers Weekly,
"Perlstein, winner of a Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus, provides a compelling account of Richard Nixon as a masterful harvester of negative energy, turning the turmoil of the 1960s into a ladder to political notoriety. Perlstein's key narrative begins at about the time of the Watts riots, in the shadow of Lyndon Johnson's overwhelming 1964 victory at the polls against Goldwater, which left America's conservative movement broken. Through shrewdly selected anecdotes, Perlstein demonstrates the many ways Nixon used riots, anti — Vietnam War protests, the drug culture and other displays of unrest as an easy relief against which to frame his pitch for his narrow win of 1968 and landslide victory of 1972. Nixon spoke of solid, old-fashioned American values, law and order and respect for the traditional hierarchy. In this way, says Perlstein, Nixon created a new dividing line in the rhetoric of American political life that remains with us today. At the same time, Perlstein illuminates the many demons that haunted Nixon, especially how he came to view his political adversaries as 'enemies' of both himself and the nation and brought about his own downfall. 16 pages of b&w photos." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review A Day"
by Ross Douthat, The Atlantic Monthly,
"Any book that rolls Woodstock and Watergate, the death of RFK and the Tet Offensive, Jane Fonda and George Wallace, and a cast of thousands more into a mere 800 pages or so is bound to sprawl and sag a bit, to rush too quickly through some topics and linger too long with others. Even so, Nixonland reads marvelously. Perlstein has the rare gift of being able to weave social, political, and cultural history into a single seamless narrative....And he has the eye of a great documentarian, fastening not only on the obvious historical set pieces (Kent State, Watts, Attica), but on the not-so-obvious ones as well." (read the entire Atlantic Monthly review)
by John W. Dean Nixon's White House counsel,
"This is a terrific read. What a delight it is to discover the new generation of historians like Rick Perlstein not only getting history correct but giving us all fresh insights and understanding of it."
by Richard Reeves author of President Reagan: The Triumph of Imagination,
"Rick Perlstein has written a fascinating account of the rise of Richard Nixon and a persuasive argument that this angry, toxic man will always be part of the American landscape."
by Jeffrey Toobin author of The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court,
"Nixonland is a grand historical epic. Rick Perlstein has turned a story we think we know — American politics between the opposing presidential landslides of 1964 and 1972 — into an often surprising and always fascinating new narrative. This riveting book, full of colorful detail and great characters, brings back to life an astonishing era — and shines a new light on our own."
by Sean Wilentz Princeton University, author of The Age of Reagan: A History, 1974-2008,
"Rick Perlstein's Nixonland digs deep into a decisive period of our history and brings back a past that is all the scarier for its intense humanity. With a firm grasp on the larger meaning of countless events and personalities, many of them long forgotten, Perlstein superbly shows how paranoia and innuendo flowed into the mainstream of American politics after 1968, creating divisive passions that have survived for decades."
From one of America's most talented historians comes a brilliant new account of Richard Nixon — set against the violent passions of America's 1960s civil war — that reveals the riveting backstory to the red state/blue state resentments that divide the nation today.
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