ONE OF THE PRESIDENTS' MEN: Twenty Years with Eisenhower and Nixon by Maurice H. Stans

ONE OF THE PRESIDENTS' MEN: Twenty Years with Eisenhower and Nixon

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Selective albeit generally absorbing recollections from an improbable stormy petrel who held important posts in two Republican administrations. Stuns (who turned 87 earlier this year) left his rural Minnesota home as a teenager to take night courses in accounting at Northwestern University. He eventually became the senior partner of a Chicago-based CPA firm, which he turned into a national power, and amassed a considerable fortune. An active Republican, Stuns was appointed deputy postmaster general in 1955. He moved on at Eisenhower's invitation to the Bureau of the Budget, where he was the last director to balance the federal government's books. While the Democrats controlled the presidency, the author served as treasurer of Nixon's abortive run for governor of California in 1962, incurred the punitive wrath of the JFK White House, and played a major role in Nixon's successful 1968 presidential campaign. Joining the Cabinet as secretary of commerce, Stuns was not only an energetic trade warrior but also an effective apostle of d‚tente and the man in charge of establishing the Office of Minority Business Enterprise (an oft-ignored Nixon initiative). Withal, these and other accomplishments were washed away in the flood tide of Watergate. At no small cost, Stuns (who recounted his legal travails in The Terrors of Justice, 1978) was acquitted on state charges of accepting unlawful contributions on behalf of the Committee to ReElect the President (CREEP). Under intense pressure from a special prosecutor, however, he pled guilty to five misdemeanors involving financial improprieties unrelated to the cover-up. Although Stuns devotes only the last two chapters of his narrative to making a case for his relatively innocent entanglements in the Watergate scandal, the guess here is that this exculpatory material will command a lion's share of such attention as is paid the book. Engrossing reminiscences of a genuinely singular life that seem almost certain to awaken bitter memories of unforgiven trespasses.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1995
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Brassey