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NIXONLAND by Rick Perlstein


The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America

by Rick Perlstein

Pub Date: July 1st, 2010
ISBN: 978-1-4516-0626-3
Publisher: Scribner

In its hardcover format, Nixonland succeeded in telling the complicated story of the 1960s partly through a deft use of narration based on the medium most Americans relied on in that turbulent decade: network TV news reports. This enhanced e-book version replaces the photos illustrating the book with more than 30 contemporary video clips scattered throughout, all made available by CBS News.

The videos, few longer than two minutes and most considerably shorter, cover race riots, anti-war demonstrations, assassinations, the war in Vietnam, the chaos of the 1968 Democratic convention, presidential speeches to the nation and so on. Some of these replace and augment the coverage in Perlstein’s book based on NBC or ABC reports. Others, which Perlstein described in the text, are illuminating: for example, a segment on Stokely Carmichael’s introduction of the establishment-quaking phrase “black power” to the national discussion during an angry demonstration in Mississippi, and Walter Cronkite’s meticulous detailing of what was then known of the Watergate scandal, before Watergate had even become a household word. Despite Perlstein’s claim to CBS News’ Bob Schieffer, in a video introduction to these media enhancements, that these clips “complete” the book, a hard-copy reader of Nixonland probably would not lose much, if anything, from skipping this enhanced version.

Still, anyone who has not already read this essential history of the Nixonization of America, and especially anyone who did not live through the era, would do well to dig into this meaty book in this multimedia format.