[icopyright one button toolbar]
I graduated from college in June of 1968 in the middle of the Vietnam war. The day after Nixon was elected I reported to the Army. Fortunately for me following basic training I was recruited by the Defense Intelligence Agency and spent my entire army career sitting behind a typewriter in downtown Munich, Germany usually wearing civilian clothes and living in an apartment. I saw the multiple scars on one of my roommates who had served in Vietnam and saw him dive under the bed when one of those powerful Munich thunderstorms would roll out of the alps at night. I read the Pentagon Papers when they came out, and yes they did sell the book in the PX. Two books were released yesterday on the recently released transcripts of the Nixon Tapes, The Nixon Tapes by Douglas Brinkley and Luke Nichter and Chasing Shadows by Ken Hughes. This was not only a very important part of American history but an important part of my history. I have just ordered both of them.
Over at the Atlantic Evan Thomas gives us a brief review along with some thoughts on both books.
Richard Nixon taped roughly 3,700 hours of his conversations as president. About 3,000 hours of those tapes have been released, while the rest remain closed to protect family privacy or national security. The public has a general impression of what’s on the Nixon White House tapes—the expletives deleted, the so-called “smoking gun” when Nixon appeared to try to use the CIA to derail the FBI investigation of Watergate, the slurs against blacks and Jews.
But very few people have actually listened to more than a few hours of tapes. Less than five percent of the recordings have been transcribed or published. The tapes, stored at the Nixon Library in Yorba Linda, California, will in time give us a much clearer and more accurate picture of Richard Nixon. Two tapes-based books published this summer, timed to the 40th anniversary of Nixon’s resignation on August 9, 1974, go a long way toward showing Nixon’s underappreciated geopolitical genius and how he became the victim of his own emotionalism.
There is little doubt that Nixon was a brilliant but very troubled man. He was obsessed with his image and place in history. Go to the link to read more of Thomas’ thoughts, its short and well worth the read.
I look forward to reading them both as they represent a behind the scenes look at a history I lived.