A one-time New York Herald Tribune staffer who became a loyal Nixon speechwriter, Price has delivered up the first ""serious"" attempt to reinstate Nixon as a statesman since the August, 1974, resignation. It is, all told, a masterful job of obfuscation. Price argues not innocence but complexity--the complexity of Nixon's designs for world peace, the complexity of his deeply political nature, the complexity of the longstanding antipathy between him and the media. As to the first, Nixon is depicted in the improbable guise of an Asia savant who is appalled by the churlishness of our European-minded ethnocentrism. ""Passion welled up in his voice: 'Little brown people. I love those people!"" The conviction that Nixon would be an irreplaceable force for international amity overshadowed, at least in Price's mind, Nixon's sins (if any) re Watergate. Or, ""To cast it in rather extreme terms, I saw getting on with the prevention of World War III as more important than the bugging of Larry O'Brien's telephone."" Determined to see Nixon's ouster as a media-induced tragedy and contemptuous of psychiatric reductionists (e.g., Dr. Abrahamsen), Price can nonetheless portray in Manichean terms the struggle between ""the light side"" and the ""dark side"" of the 37th president and declare himself a part of the White House conspiracy to keep the dark side (Chuck Colson et al.) in check. It is a dreary book, the more so for its air of impeccable reasonableness. That Price himself was lied to even as he concocted one after another of Nixon's Watergate speeches doesn't seem to disturb him--as it will readers who will also balk at a president so alienated as to refer to himself in the third person.