Essential for students of the era and fascinating for those who lived it.



An eye-opening reckoning of crimes, misdemeanors and bugging technology 40 years after Richard Nixon’s ignominious departure from the White House.

Brinkley (History/Rice Univ.; Cronkite, 2012, etc.) teams up with Nichter (Texas A&M Univ., Central Texas; Richard M. Nixon: In the Arena, from Valley to Mountaintop, 2014, etc.) to look for the smoking gun in the vast mass of tapes—3,700 hours—Nixon secretly made during his time as president. As they note, the tapes “gave Nixon an accurate record of his meetings and phone calls without the need for someone to sit in and take notes.” Of course, they also gave Nixon something to pore over as well, and they are so abundant that the authors reckon the whole corpus will probably never be completely transcribed. What we have here is damning enough, though not much that the tapes reveal comes as a real surprise: Henry Kissinger reckoned that owing to the weakness of our supposed allies in Indochina (“the South Vietnamese aren’t going anywhere where they’re going to suffer casualties right now”), it was justified to invade theoretically neutral Laos. U.S. ambassador Ellsworth Bunker believed that things were fine in Vietnam “except for this damn drug business.” Nixon, reckoning that by sitting down to negotiate with the Soviet foe he would court a disastrous attack from the right wing of his own Republican Party, fell back on football metaphors: “this is just scoring a damn touchdown, but it’s one that’s going to—maybe, we’ll be able to hold and still win the game in the public opinion field.” The takeaway? Granted that it’s nothing new—see Robert Altman’s film Secret Honor—but Nixon’s constant cynicism is the real hallmark of this anthology of transcriptions, most having to do with foreign policy in a fraught and tumultuous era. His conclusion? Said Nixon in May 1972, on the road to a landmark re-election victory: “The American people are suckers.”

Essential for students of the era and fascinating for those who lived it.

Pub Date: July 29, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-544-27415-0

Page Count: 784

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: July 29, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2014

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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Bernstein and Woodward, the two Washington Post journalists who broke the Big Story, tell how they did it by old fashioned seat-of-the-pants reporting — in other words, lots of intuition and a thick stack of phone numbers. They've saved a few scoops for the occasion, the biggest being the name of their early inside source, the "sacrificial lamb" H**h Sl**n. But Washingtonians who talked will be most surprised by the admission that their rumored contacts in the FBI and elsewhere never existed; many who were telephoned for "confirmation" were revealing more than they realized. The real drama, and there's plenty of it, lies in the private-eye tactics employed by Bernstein and Woodward (they refer to themselves in the third person, strictly on a last name basis). The centerpiece of their own covert operation was an unnamed high government source they call Deep Throat, with whom Woodward arranged secret meetings by positioning the potted palm on his balcony and through codes scribbled in his morning newspaper. Woodward's wee hours meetings with Deep Throat in an underground parking garage are sheer cinema: we can just see Robert Redford (it has to be Robert Redford) watching warily for muggers and stubbing out endless cigarettes while Deep Throat spills the inside dope about the plumbers. Then too, they amass enough seamy detail to fascinate even the most avid Watergate wallower — what a drunken and abusive Mitchell threatened to do to Post publisher Katherine Graham's tit, and more on the Segretti connection — including the activities of a USC campus political group known as the Ratfuckers whose former members served as a recruiting pool for the Nixon White House. As the scandal goes public and out of their hands Bernstein and Woodward seem as stunned as the rest of us at where their search for the "head ratfucker" has led. You have to agree with what their City Editor Barry Sussman realized way back in the beginning — "We've never had a story like this. Just never."

Pub Date: June 18, 1974

ISBN: 0671894412

Page Count: 372

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1974

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