President Nixon: Alone in the White House
by Richard Reeves
A review by Adrienne Miller
If a human being can be defined by a list of the things he loves, here is a
definition of one R.M. Nixon: football, naps, confident men with high IQs,
cottage cheese, and the Kennedys. What he hated, according to Richard Reeves's
new biography ("character study" is probably more accurate), was pretty much
everything else. Drawing on archival materials, declassified documents and
interviews, Reeves paints a picture that isn't pretty. Was Nixon really
that much of a contemptible bastard? Was he really that ruthless,
paranoid, humorless, insecure, manipulative, ungenerous? Was he really that
small? Well...probably. But do we really need his biographer (who
also wrote President Kennedy: Profile of Power) shouting Hate him!
on every page? "He was a hater," Reeves writes, in case we weren't clear on this
point. And, true, hatred seems to have been, as Reeves has it, Nixon's greatest
talent. "'That little Jew cocksucker is the same guy who screwed us in the
Eisenhower administration'" is one of Nixon's more charitable estimations of a
While this book lacks subtlety, it is interesting to see how Nixon's personality
problems set the tone for his administration, and how they ultimately led to
Watergate. The most fascinating words here are Nixon's weird memos to himself.
He wrote many notes like this one, of Gatsbyish stangeness and poignancy: "'Need
for joy, serenity, confidence, inspirational; Goals: Set example, inspire,
instill pride; 1. Personal image of Presidency -- Strong, compassionate,
competent, bold -- Joy in job.'" President Nixon: Alone in the White
House is, above all else, a deeply sad book, and one that proves exactly
what Nixon feared his whole life: that other people hated him as much as he
to Esquire and Save 75%
Get 12 fantastic issues of Esquire magazine
for only $8. The best culture, entertainment, style, financial advice, women
and more delivered right to your door every month ? at an incredible 81% savings
off the newsstand price! What could be better... or easier?
here to subscribe now!