“I intended to play the role of the President right to the hilt and right to the end.” Thus RN, whose words read less like memos here than they did in the newspaper excerpts and more like the last will and testament of a fighter who never willingly gave ground. Had he been urged to resign, he avers, he would have rebelled; and his review of the two occasions – the “secret fund” crisis, the second v.p. nomination – when he felt himself crowded and didn’t cave in, back up his claim. “And tell them I know something about politics too!” he quotes himself as shouting over the phone, in the first instance, to a wheedling, dissembling Tom Dewey. He was a mere freshman senator then, built up by the Hiss case, but always had ideas of his own. Not public affairs: He had nothing against communism, he says, until Churchill’s Iron Curtain speech. So it’s when he’s talking politics that his celebrated caginess becomes an asset and his acumen is in evidence; and only then, too, is he interesting about people. Poor Rose Mary Woods, for instance, turns up unheralded, whereas Bob Haldeman scores for spotting the potential of campaigning-by-TV, not whistle-stop train. (Apropos of the pardon request, Nixon notes wryly that “Haldeman, ever the efficient Chief of Staff, had included a specially typed page to insert in my resignation speech.”) By the same token, while the extensive travels are dull, dull, dull, the final days are distinctly not: Intent on being a leader from the time when, four years out of law school, he was president of every organization in sight, he is fully aware of what’s slipping away. He records the silence – instead of the usual applause – that greeted his entrance to the last Cabinet meeting, the “sober, noncommittal” faces as he thanks his aides for their support; and like a prospective suicide, he imagines the effect his farewell cables will have on Chou and Chairman Mao, “in Cairo and Tel Aviv, in Damascus and Amman” – where, “eight weeks ago, I had been accorded unprecedented acclaim.” How the mightiest fell: it may not be worth a thousand pages, but they do carry weight.