All resources highlighted by a (*) are referenced in the master bibliography for the film's annotated script.
Aitken, Jonathan. Nixon: A Life. Washington: Regenery Publishing, Inc., 1993.
This is a comprehensive biography by a British Member of Parliament who met Richard Nixon in 1966, and its sympathetic portrait of the man is especially useful in studying Nixon's childhood and early years in California. Many critics found the book helps create a "balanced" Nixon, which many could see as being too generous. However, the picture Aitken creates of a matriarchal household where the greatest influence on Nixon's teen years was his mother and grandmother; of Nixon, the naval war hero; and Nixon the loving family man are facets of the man that are missing from the Oliver Stone film. Aitken's biography will expose students to a Nixon far removed from Vietnam and Cambodia and can allow them to make up their own minds on what their final judgment of his actions will be. The final chapters of the book, which focus on his career as an elder statesman, are especially enjoyable and informative (the Stone film does not even touch on Nixon's comeback to politics after Watergate), and Aitken creates a portrait of a president who was truly a fighter, even creating an exercise regimen so he could regain his health. The book does take liberties with the connections between Nixon's early years and his later actions as president, suggesting that after his mother's death Nixon was a broken man and his decisions should be viewed in this light. However, this doesn't acknowledge that Nixon's campaigns against Jerry Voorhis or Alger Hiss were morally questionable. It is surprising to hear Aitken write that the foreign community (including himself) did not really understand why the events of Watergate deserved Nixon's resignation, which implies that the cover-up of the break-in was a pardonable crime. Readers can judge whether they believe that Nixon was run out of office by a hostile Congress and a hostile media.
Bernstein, Carl, and Bob Woodward. All the President's Men. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1974.
Much like the movie that followed, All the President's Men is a look at the reporters and journalistic issues that arose during the Washington Post's investigation of a burglary at the Watergate that would finally expose the corrupt activities of the Nixon White House. Although most call the book and movie "classics" and important resources in understanding the Nixon White House, I find the expose quality of both to be a turn-off and have recomended other books on the list as a friendlier read (especially for younger scholars).
---. The Final Days. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1976.
This is Bernstein and Woodward's second book, and unlike All The President's Men, the reporters focus on the first two years of the Watergate crisis and end with a seventeen-day, hour-by-hour chronology of the final days before Nixon resigned. Written in a fast-paced reporter style, this is an engrossing reconstruction of the events of Watergate with an emphasis on how those events affected Nixon's family, friends, personal aides, and staff.
Crowley, Monica. Nixon in Winter: His Final Revelations about Diplomacy, Watergate, and Life out of the Arena. New York: Random House, 1998.
Crowley served as Nixon's research consultant, travel companion, and foreign policy assistant from 1990 till his death in 1994, and although the book is praised for recording Nixon's thoughts on the 90's political climate, it is Crowley's record of Nixon's reaction to Pat's death, his making her a can of chili, or assesing Hegel's philosophy with "We tend to get lost in the endless petty, meaningless parts of life" (Crowley 353). One of my favorite Nixon books, but one which raises huge questions: Crowley never recorded Nixon's comments, she transcribed them immediately after each conversation. This applies to Pat Nixon and others who are referenced in the book as well, and I am not only amazed that Nixon trusted Crowley with such personal detials, but that her memory is so complete to record what appears to be hour-long conversations. (Crowley did write to Nixon as a senior undergrad and was invited to discuss matters of foreign policy with him, so it is not imcomprehensible to understand how both became friends). I will admit that I am envious of Crowley who was only 21 when she met Nixon and became a personal aide and consultant to the president. Even if every conversation Crowley writes of is not 100% accurate, the image of Nixon in the winter of his life is a wonderful and compelling one.
Dean, John. Blind Ambition: The White House Years. New York: Pocket Books, 1979.
Described by readers as the least "self-serving" of the books about Watergate, Blind Ambition traces John Dean's rise from a young lawyer to the position of Counsel to the President at age 30. Dean is tough on everyone in the Nixon administration and paints a picture of a paranoid leader whose power reigned unchecked The book's popularity possibly stems from the fact that while Dean maintains his lack of culpability in Watergate, he is not easy on his culpability in the president's hardball approach to those who were on his "Enemies List," including actors, professors, and even many prominent publications such as the Washington Post. Dean writes that he did not initially have much access to the president, but his enthusiasm for doing Nixon's dirty work led the President to try to involve Dean in the Watergate cover-up. Dean would arrange hush-money be passed out and even broke into Howard Hunt's safe to shred documents. David Hyde Pierce, the actor who plays Dean, used the book as part of his research on the role and commented, "Historically, a lot of people look at him as a rat for turning everyone in, I have to say I don't see it that way. He certainly made some really lousy decisions and broke some really good laws, but ultimately, I think, it must have been very difficult for him to face those people and say, 'I'm going to tell what happened. ' '' The book has been criticized for getting many of its facts wrong and for its negative portrayal of the president, and it does not provide any new information about the Watergate scandal -- however, Dean does a fantastic job re-creating the day-to-day happenings in the White House and implies that none of Nixon's aides considered for a moment that their illegal actions related to Watergate or would ever land any of them in prison. In doing this, Dean casts the Nixon White House in the apt metaphor of a Shakespearean tragedy.
---. The Rehnquist Choice: The Untold Story of the Nixon Appointment That Redefined the Supreme Court. New York, Free Press, 2001.
The Rehnquist Choice utilizes President Nixon's secret tapes to describe the 1971 process by which William Rehnquist was nominated to the seat of Supreme Court justice. When Nixon left office he would have filled four Supreme Court seats -- Rehnquist and Lewis Powell were nominated for the positions when Justice Hugo Black and John Harlan resigned. The novel's main focus is Rehnquist's nomination who was at the time an assitant attorney general in the administration. Nixon's ideal justice ranged from a "conservative southerner" to the first woman justice, an idea dismissed with the President's pronouncement, "I'm not for women, frankly, in any job. I don't want any of them around. Thank God we don't have any in the Cabinet. But I must say the Cabinet's so lousy we [might] just as well have a woman [there], too." The administration worried about details such as the candidate's legal qualifications, only after they had debated about the ethnic implications with the question of Rehnquist's jewishness taking center stage. Dean's afterward criticizes the Rehnquist choice, first because of the Justice Department efforts to kick out justices who were philosophically opposed to the administration but also because Dean believed that Rehnquist lied during his confirmation hearings. Dean charges that Rehnquist supported the "separate but equal" ruling of Plessy vs. Ferguson and that he had blocked African American voters in several polling locations. What Dean exposes is the arbitrariness of the process (at least in the Nixon administration) and that the President picked Rehnquist only because he was identified as conservative and did not actually meet any other of Nixon's qualifications.
Eisenhower, Julie Nixon. Pat Nixon: The Untold Story. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1986.
While working on this project, my respect for Pat Nixon has grown in leaps and bounds. Although described by the press as "plastic Pat" and a "wax-doll," Pat Nixon was a behind-the-scenes player in her husband's political career, and this book attempts to focus on their political and personal partnership. Written by their daughter Julie, the book is a gushing testamonial to both Pat and Richard and provides personal anecdotes that would not have a place in histories about war or Watergate -- Julie writes that Pat Nixon hated traveling during the Vice Presidential years because it meant long absences from her daughters. Pat would have to struggle with the pressure of being a political wife and coming home from state dinners to find notes telling her "Mommy -- Please make holes for this project. It is in the right order -- I love you. Julie," or recieving a Mother's Day card while travelling which said, "Dear Mother, Come home soon and help me with my report on Norway." Like her husband, she attempted to seperate their political life from their home life and the stressors were not witnessed by the media or American public. Julie's goal in recording a "silent spectator's" view of events points to the larger project which Joan Hoff also wishes to see: accounts from the women of the Nixon presidency, especially the "wives of Watergate." Clearly Pat Nixon wasn't always silent about the decisions her husband made nor was she silent about criticism of her family, but the book does indicate that she became less of a partner after Richard became president, and that her involvement with the causes she was passionate about (the welfare of children in poorer countries) was not highlighted by the press.
Clearly this is not an unbiased record of events, however as I argue in my issue essay, no record of history can be that. I found myself smiling when Julie writes about her reaction to the protestors ruining White House functions screaming obscenities and chanting outside the gates, or recording her mother's reactions to the corrupt communists who have invaded the government during the Alger Hiss case. However, Julie also shows us the stressors placed on both the girls who were in high-school and college during the anti-war protests and the tenor and violence of the protestors prevented Julie and her husband David Eisenhower from attending their graduation ceremonies from Smith and Amherst. Many could argue that the young men in Vietnam were in greater suffering than a missed graduation, yet stories such as this humanize the Nixon family in a way that the media and the Stone film could not. In March 1970, while visiting community service programs at several colleges, Pat commented that "Government is impersonal and to really get our problems solved we have to have people too. We need the personal touch" (281).
Hay, Jeff. Richard M. Nixon: Presidents and their Decisions Series. California: Greenhaven Press, Inc., 2001.
An extremely useful and quick read through on Richard Nixon's political career and his major decisions and actions during his terms in the White House. Several issues are covered including Nixon's environmental policy, his role in the ending of the Vietnam War, his visit to China, as well as his actions leading up to and during the Watergate scandal. What is particularly useful about this compilation is that it is a series of essays or excerpts not just by scholars but also by people involved directly with President Nixon either as advisor, cabinet members, OR involved in the political arena with him. For example, in the section "Nixon and the Environmental Movement," we have essays from Charles S. Warren, who was a regional administrator for the United States Environmental Protection Agency; John Whitaker, Nixon's deputy assistant; Jerry Voorhis, a congressman whom Nixon defeated in 1946; and finally by Tom Wicker, author of the book One of Us: Richard Nixon and the American Dream. Each of the essays take a different stance on the issues, readers are encouraged to draw their own conclusions. The friendly and engaging format, as well as the straightforward style of writing in the essays, makes this an invaluable resource for high school students, but the book can also be useful for more advanced students. The book also contains a 31-page biography that focuses mostly on Nixon's political career, a very good timeline, as well as a useful bibliography for further reading.
Hoff, Joan. Nixon Reconsidered. New York: Harper Collins Publishers/BasicBooks, 1994.
Hoff "reconsiders" Nixon's presidency by distinguishing between a moral person and an amoral person, and concluding that Nixon was the latter. She considers Nixon to be both a good and bad president, but one whose achievements have been overshadowed by Watergate. She considers his foreign policy achievements to be insignificant (except the trip to China) when compared to his domestic achievements, including improvements to a national health insurance program. Hoff writes that although Nixon was and is perceived as being bigoted, it is his actions and decisions (such as the expansion of affirmative action or his efforts to wrestle power away from Congress) that are more important and relevant to the understanding of his character. Hoff's book is based on both the tapes as well as interviews with Nixon and his staff, and her discussion on memory and history is compelling.
Kessel, John H. Presidents, the Presidency, and the Political Environment. Washington: CQ Press, 2001.
Kessel, a respected presidential scholar, has created a useful guide to understanding the presidency, especially the functions and importance of the White House staff. Kessel covers all the presidents from Eisenhower to Clinton and the ways in which each president interacts with his staff and the staff's relationship with the outside world. There are six significant sections: "The Contemporary White House," "Working with Congress," "Working with the Media," "Foreign Policy," "Economic Policy," and "Domestic Policy." in two additional sections, "Samples of Presidential Accomplishment" and "Patterns of Presidential Accomplishment," Kessel outlines the policy records of our recent presidents, as well as mapping the patterns of accomplishment with each president. The sections discussing Nixon's relations with China are noteworthy, as are the discussions of his economic policy and stance on segregation.
Morgan, Iwan. Nixon. London: Oxford UP, 2002.
This book is part of the "Reputations" series of biographies that seeks to understand the contradictory personae that influential people in the public eye often project to us. Morgan, a Professor of American History at London Guidhall University, focuses extensively on how Nixon "revised" his persona in key moments in his political career, especially in the twenty years after Watergate. Aiming for a balanced theoretical approach to Nixon's biography, Morgan explores the various psychoanalytic approaches that attempt to explain the President's motivations, examines how Nixon attempted to elevate the status of the Republican party as well as his contributions to domestic reform, and, finally, Morgan reconsiders the Watergate scandal in context of Nixon's other personal abuses of power. Morgan calls Nixon an "imperial president" because of his constaint "straining" of constitutional powers accorded to him. One of the more interesting ideas about an "imperial presidency" is Morgan's look at the leaders the Nixon admired: yes, President Woodrow Wilson and Teddy Roosevelt were among them; however, Nixon's greatest praises were reserved for men who had "reinvented" themselves and seized control over their influence and image, including Winston Churchill, Mao Zedong, and Charles de Gaulle. Nixon described de Gaulle as man who "fashioned himself so he could play" a certain "part he himself created" (Morgan 156). Nixon also agreed with de Gaulle's description of a leader as a person who "must choose between prominence and happiness...must endure strict discipline, constant risk-taking and perpetual inner struggle" (Morgan 157). This is another intelligent and thoughtful read, and in some ways accomplishes what Stone's film attempts to do: understand the ways that Nixon cultivated his reputation and the ways in which they influenced his actions in the political arena.
Reeves, Richard. President Nixon: Alone in the White House. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2001.
According to Reeves, President Nixon only cared about two goals during his terms in office: getting re-elected and showing foreign powers that the United States was not militarily or diplomatically weakened. Nixon's domestic policies often leaned to the left because by supporting legislation on issues as diverse as Social Security, jobs, and the country's economy, he could undermine Democratic authority on legislation with which they would traditionally be associated. Reeves also argues that the President was bigoted and built a wall around himself with the key members of his cabinet, Haldeman, Ehrlichman, and Kissinger. Reeves compares Nixon to President Wilson and argues that while Nixon did imagine a more peaceful world, his fondness for foreign policy decisions stems from the fact that he could side-step members of his cabinet and Congress when making decisions. Reeves's work does psychoanalyze Nixon and cites several of his to-do lists in which he listed goals for the nation, such as "Set example, inspire, instill pride." I was lucky enough to view some of these lists first-hand on my trip to Yorba Linda, and one can't help but psychoanalyze a man who made lists titled "goals for the nation" after he won the presidential office.
Alone in the White House is applauded by critics because of its connection to Reeves's earlier work, President Kennedy: Profile of Power. Reeves reconstructs Nixon's presidency with close attention to the chronology of the events, focusing on minute details and often overlooked aspects of Nixon's behavior and actions. Reeves finally concludes that Nixon did not change because of the office of the presidency, nor was he destroyed by it, raising more questions about the man than providing us with answers.
Sussman, Barry. The Great Coverup: Nixon and the Scandal of Watergate. Boston: Ty Cromwell Company, 1974.
John Dean commented, "When people ask me which book they should read to understand what really happened during Watergate, I recommend this one. Barry Sussman was one of the first to perceive the full dimensions of Watergate, and he records it all in a fair, fast-paced, literate manner...Serious Watergate students report this is the best overview of the subject. I heartily agree. Anyone who wants to understand Watergate, and not make a career out of it, should read The Great Coverup." The superb book is also recomended by the managing editor of the watergate.info website that students can visit to read extracts.
Wicker, Tom. One of Us: Richard Nixon and the American Dream. New York: Random House, 1991.
Would you believe that a liberal journalist, who made Nixon's "Enemies List" in the early 70's, was capable of writing a book in which the major thesis was to prove that Nixon was a misunderstood man whose political accomplishments especially in the domestic arena have been underrated? Wicker's book does just that -- the author doesn't focus on Nixon's foreign achievements (a common defense of the president) but argues that Nixon was valuable to our national policies in significant ways. Wicker writes, ''His most fundamental economic choice was not the usual Republican preference for price stability and 'sound money' but an effort to keep ordinary Americans at work and on the payroll.'' This book really influenced my growing sympathy for President Nixon, but its insistence that Nixon reflects the dark, alter-ego of the American psyche is a thesis that seems to trivialize his true greatness.
Wills, Garry. Nixon Agonistes: The Crisis of the Self-Made Man. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1970.
An early study of the president, Nixon Agonistes is a bestselling biography from a renowned historian. However, Wills' creative writing style involves re-visiting important stops in Nixon's life, such as Whittier and imagining the way Nixon used to be and studying the ways he was regarded in the present day. Wills' style is interesting because it critiques both Nixon and the American public for their attitudes towards one another but also succeeds in humanizing a president who so many describe as cold and calculating. Wills brings several of the theories of Ralph Waldo Emerson (on the self-made man), Adam Smith (on economics), John Stuart Mill (on the intellectual), and Woodrow Wilson (on universalism), and attempts to construct Nixon from these parts. I wouldn't recomend this book as a starting place for Nixon scholars but for more experienced readers who want to study Nixon through another compelling lens.
Ambrose, Stephen. Nixon: The Education of a Politician, 1913-1962. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1987.
---. Nixon: Ruin and Recovery, 1973-1990. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1991.
---. Nixon: The Triumph of a Politician, 1962-1972. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1990.
Anderson, David L.. ed. Shadow on the White House: Presidents and the Vietnam War, 1945-1975. Lawrence: UP of Kansas, 1993.
Balken, Debra Bricker, and Philip Guston. Philip Guston's Poor Richard. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 2001.
Berman, Larry. Planning a Tragedy: The Americanization of the War in Vietnam. New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1983.
---. No Peace, No Honor: Nixon, Kissinger, and Betrayal in Vietnam. New York: Free Press, 2001.
Bundy, William. A Tangled Web: The Making of Foreign Policy in the Nixon Presidency. New York: Hill and Wang Pub., 1997.
Burke, John P., and Fred I. Greenstein. How Presidents Test Reality: Decisions on Vietnam, 1954 and 1965. New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 1991.
Carter, Dan T. George Wallace, Richard Nixon, and the Transformation of American Politics. Waco: Baylor UP, 1992.
Coates, Tim. The Watergate Affair, 1972: The Resignation of President Richard M. Nixon (Uncovered Editions)
Colodny, Len. Silent Coup: The Removal of a President. New York: St. Martin's, 1991.
Ellsberg, Daniel. Papers on the War. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1972.
Haldeman, Harry R. The Haldeman Diaries: Inside the Nixon White House. New York: G.P. Putnam's, 1994.
Kissinger, Henry A. Diplomacy. New York: Simon & Schuster Trade, 1995.
---. Kissinger: A Biography. New York: Simon & Schuster Trade, 1993.
---. White House Years. Boston: Little, Brown, 1979.
---. Years of Renewal. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1999.
Klein, Herbert G. Making it Perfectly Clear. Garden City: Doubleday, 1980.
Kutler, Stanley. Abuse of Power: The New Nixon Tapes. Simon and Schuster, 1997.
Laird, Melvin. The Nixon Doctrine. (Town Hall Meeting Series.) Washington: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, 1972.
Litwak, Robert S. Détente and the Nixon Doctrine. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1984.
Matusow, Allen J. Nixon's Economy: Booms, Busts, Dollars, and Votes. Lawrence: UP of Kansas, 1998.
Melanson, Richard A. American Foreign Policy Since the Vietnam War: The Search for Consensus from Nixon to Clinton. Armonk: Sharpe, 2000.
Mollenhoff, Clark. Game Plan for Disaster: An Ombudsman's Report on the Nixon Years. New York: W.W. Norton and Company, Inc., 1976.
Oudes, Bruce, ed. From the President: Richard Nixon's Secret Files. New York: Harper & Row, 1989.
Parmet, Herbert. Richard Nixon and His America. Boston: Little, Brown, 1990.
Price, Raymond. With Nixon. New York: Viking Press, 1977.
Safire, William. Before the Fall: An Inside View of the Pre-Watergate White House. New York: Da Capo Press, 1975.
Schlesinger, Arthur. Kennedy or Nixon: Does it Make any Difference? New York: The Macmillan Company, 1960.
Sevareid, Eric. Candidates 1960: Behind the Headlines in the Presidential Race. New York: Basic Books, Inc., 1959.
Simes, Dimitri K. After the Collapse: Russia Reclaims Its Place as a Great Power. New York: Simon & Schuster Trade, 1999.
Stans, Maurice H. One of the Presidents' Men: Twenty Years with Eisenhower and Nixon. Brassey Press, 1995.
Voorhis, Jerry. The Strange Case of Richard Milhous Nixon. New York: S. Erikson, Inc., 1972.
You'll sense a pattern in all of President's Nixon's books after he left office because of Watergate -- he argues continually that without war, the U.S. will never be able to maintian its power in the world. An insightful book, but I would recomend that Victory Without War be read in place of or in conjunction with Seize the Moment.
Nixon, Richard M. Beyond Peace. New
Nixon, Richard M. In the Arena: A Memoir of
and Renewal. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1990.
Nixon, Richard M. Leaders. New York:
Nixon, Richard M. No More Vietnams. New
Arbor House, 1985.
Nixon, Richard M. RN: The Memoirs of Richard
New York: Simon & Schuster, 1990.
Nixon, Richard M. Seize the Moment: America's
in a One- Superpower World. New York: Simon & Schuster,
Nixon, Richard M. Six Crises. New York:
& Schuster, 1990.
Nixon, Richard M. The Challenges We Face.
and compiled from the Speeches and Papers of Richard M. Nixon.
York, Toronto, London: McGraw-Hill Inc., 1960.
Nixon, Richard M. The Real War. New
& Schuster, 1980.
Nixon, Richard M. Four Great Americans: Tributes Delivered by President Richard Nixon. Garden City: Doubleday, 1973.
Nixon, Richard M. Public Papers of the Presidents: Richard Nixon. 6 vol. Washington: United States Government Printing Office, 1971-1975.
Nixon, Richard M., Howard F. Bremer, ed. Richard M. Nixon, 1913: Chronology, Documents, Bibliographical Aids. Dobbs Ferry: Oceana Publications, 1975.
Nixon, Richard M. Summons to Greatness: A Collage of Inspirational Though and Practical Ideas from the Messages and Addresses of Richard Nixon, Thirty-Seventh President of the United States. Washington: Friends of President Nixon, 1972.
Nixon, Richard M. The Nixon Presidential Press Conferences. New York: E.M. Coleman Enterprises, 1978.
Nixon, Richard M. The White House Transcripts. Toronto, New York, London: Bantam Books, Inc., 1974.
Nixon, Richard M. U.S. Vice-President Nixon's State Visit to Free China: A Collection of Speeches and Remarks on Free China. Taipei: China Culture Publication Foundation, 1953.
Nixon, Richard M. Setting the Course; The First Year. New York: Funk & Wagnalls, 1970.
Nixon, Richard M. A New Road for America: Major Policy Statements, March 1970 to October 1971. Garden City: Doubleday and Company, 1972.
Nixon, Richard M. Nixon in Retrospect, 1946-1962: Selected Quotations. Silver Spring: Research Data Publishers, 1973.