This was all preamble for the career-ending move that would be Watergate, but not before Nixon had spilled the blood of...

CHASING SHADOWS

THE NIXON TAPES, THE CHENNAULT AFFAIR, AND THE ORIGINS OF WATERGATE

Tricky Dick: The nickname that keeps proving itself does so once more here.

It’s no surprise to have confirmation, in a general way, that Richard Nixon was a master of the abuse of power, for which even Republicans haven’t quite forgiven him. It’s no surprise that Lyndon Johnson played a particularly vehement kind of hardball politics, as well. Nonetheless, Hughes, a researcher at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center Presidential Recordings Program, turns up plenty of surprises in this careful analysis of tape recordings from both administrations. The kicker comes at the very beginning, as Nixon orders his lieutenants to break into the Brookings Institution in 1971: “I want it implemented on a thievery basis. Goddamn it, get in and get those files. Blow the safe and get it.” The “it” was twofold: evidence of who leaked the Pentagon Papers and proof that Johnson was playing party politics with an effort, in 1968, to bring North Vietnam to the table by halting American bombings. The sneak who told Nixon about all that? Henry Kissinger, of course, who consulted with Johnson and staff about those very negotiations and who “gained Nixon’s trust by betraying theirs.” It does Johnson no credit to learn that he also was negotiating with Nixon, who supported LBJ’s war effort more than most Democrats did. The already thick plot soon turned into a morass, as Claire Chennault’s widow, known as “the Dragon Lady,” played both sides against the middle to do favors for the definitively corrupt South Vietnamese regime, earning the attentions of Nixon and company, to say nothing of assorted spooks and spies.

This was all preamble for the career-ending move that would be Watergate, but not before Nixon had spilled the blood of thousands of Americans for his own political calculations. And therein lies the biggest news delivered in this utterly newsworthy book: Nixon “played politics with peace to win the 1968 election,” and he got away with it.

Pub Date: July 29, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8139-3663-5

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Univ. of Virginia

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...

NIGHT

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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This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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