NIXON IN WINTER by Monica Crowley


His Off-the-Record Conversations About the End of the Cold War, the Scandals of Washington, and Life in and out of the Arena
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A hagiographic account of the last years of Richard M. Nixon. As a college student, Crowley wrote Nixon a letter. Invited to meet with him, she ended up his assistant, friend, and biographer. She seems to have been as close to Nixon as anyone ever was outside his family. Here and in an earlier volume drawing on her time with him (Nixon off the Record, 1996), she allows Nixon to speak for himself through the copious and detailed notes she kept of their interactions. Nixon in the late 1980s and 1990s was frail and aged, but still very much a player in the game of foreign policy. Here we see him traveling to Russia as that nation fumbles toward democracy, to China as it tries to understand the market forces it has unleashed. He meets with world leaders, attempts to influence the leaders of the US, tries to—as Crowley puts it—“complete the comeback.” Crowley is there, sitting in his study, as he thinks aloud, reminisces, philosophizes about life and death. These private moments reveal much about a man who remains an enigmatic figure. One touching scene has a lonely, widowed Nixon awkwardly heating up canned chili for the two of them. Unfortunately, Crowley may be too close to her subject. She has no criticism of him, exercises no independent judgment. Nixon still speaks of “enemies” out to get him. On Vietnam he admits no wrong. On Watergate he admits it was his fault, but only in the sense that he, being Nixon, was hated by the press and so was held to a higher standard than presidents before or after him. But when Crowley speaks, it is merely to repeat and support Nixon’s views. How one receives this book will depend on how one perceives Nixon. Crowley might have helped us navigate our prejudices but, alas, is more apologist than guide. (Author tour)

Pub Date: June 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-679-45695-3
Page count: 480pp
Publisher: Random House
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 1998