CHASING SHADOWS

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

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

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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KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON

THE OSAGE MURDERS AND THE BIRTH OF THE FBI

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

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Greed, depravity, and serial murder in 1920s Oklahoma.

During that time, enrolled members of the Osage Indian nation were among the wealthiest people per capita in the world. The rich oil fields beneath their reservation brought millions of dollars into the tribe annually, distributed to tribal members holding "headrights" that could not be bought or sold but only inherited. This vast wealth attracted the attention of unscrupulous whites who found ways to divert it to themselves by marrying Osage women or by having Osage declared legally incompetent so the whites could fleece them through the administration of their estates. For some, however, these deceptive tactics were not enough, and a plague of violent death—by shooting, poison, orchestrated automobile accident, and bombing—began to decimate the Osage in what they came to call the "Reign of Terror." Corrupt and incompetent law enforcement and judicial systems ensured that the perpetrators were never found or punished until the young J. Edgar Hoover saw cracking these cases as a means of burnishing the reputation of the newly professionalized FBI. Bestselling New Yorker staff writer Grann (The Devil and Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness, and Obsession, 2010, etc.) follows Special Agent Tom White and his assistants as they track the killers of one extended Osage family through a closed local culture of greed, bigotry, and lies in pursuit of protection for the survivors and justice for the dead. But he doesn't stop there; relying almost entirely on primary and unpublished sources, the author goes on to expose a web of conspiracy and corruption that extended far wider than even the FBI ever suspected. This page-turner surges forward with the pacing of a true-crime thriller, elevated by Grann's crisp and evocative prose and enhanced by dozens of period photographs.

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

Pub Date: April 18, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-385-53424-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

NIGHT

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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