Nixonland : The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America

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NIXONLAND begins in the blood and fire of the Watts riots - one week after President Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act, and nine months after his historic landslide victory over Barry Goldwater seemed to have heralded a permanent liberal consensus. The next year scores of liberals were thrown out of Congress, America was more divided than ever, and a disgraced politician was on his way to a shocking comeback: Richard Nixon. Six years later, President Nixon, harvesting the bitterness and resentment borne of that blood and fire, was re-elected in a landslide even bigger than Johnson's, and the outlines of today's US politics of red-and-blue division became more

Product details

  • Other book format | 640 pages
  • 165.1 x 243.84 x 50.8mm | 1,156.65g
  • Simon & Schuster Ltd
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0743243021
  • 9780743243025
  • 540,381

Review quote

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." -- Sean Wilentz Princeton University, author of "The Age of Reagan: A History, 1974-2008"show more

Review Text

A richly detailed descent into the inferno - that is, the years when Richard Milhouse Nixon, "a serial collector of resentments," ruled the land.Nixon, notes Perlstein (Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus, 2001), entered office in 1969 as a minority president, having narrowly won a three-way race. He determined to improve his lot by banking much political capital on a Republican sweep of Congress in 1970, the odds for such a sweep having improved over the decade with the spectacular rise of the conservative Sun Belt. Yet the Republicans were soundly defeated, which, by Perlstein's account, cast an already paranoiac, enemies-list-keeping Nixon into a blue funk and the dead certainty that his enemies had it in for not just him but all that was right and good about America. Thus the rise of Nixonland, a nation born of cultural civil war. Perlstein works the Nixonland notion to near-schtickery, but the point is well-taken, for the culture war that Pat Buchanan talks of today was born of the battle between so-called counterculture and the sector whom Nixon brilliantly conceived as the "silent majority." "If you were a normal American and angry at the [Vietnam] war," his campaign rhetoric assured, "President Nixon was the peacenik for you." Not, alas, as long as Henry Kissinger had any say in the matter. The culture war was much more than rhetorical, Perlstein adds: Those construction workers in New York beat up women protestors as well as men, hippies were regularly murdered out in the hinterlands and Nixon's advance men made sure to "allow enough dissenters into the staging areas" where his speeches would be made to make sufficient fuss that the president, with nary a spontaneous bone in his body, could make stentorian noises in reply to the effect of "I told you so." Strangely, it all worked: Nixon won the 1972 election hands-down, the services of the plumbers having been entirely unneeded. He even carried Chicago. A solid work of political history, if necessarily long and grim in the telling. (Kirkus Reviews)show more

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5,923 ratings
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1 3% (155)
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