Richard Nixon convinced the Americans, by more than three to two, that he could use power better than George McGovern -- and how that came about is the story of this book."" Teddy White's approach and diction have become familiar: he is a master at organizing the disparate facts of what we call the quadrennial passion, at pinpointing the scaly realities of the political process, at articulating the broad trends which influence voting behavior, at limning the multifarious actors, at providing an insiderish touch unmatched by any other reporter of American presidential politics. The byzantine events of 1972 unfold here like a timebomb ticking away -- Nixon's dramatic foreign adventures (""Richard Nixon, the peacemaker, had written his first message of the campaign""), the Muskie bust and the McGovern phenomenon (""a rhythm, a sound in the hearts of millions of Americans""), the President's deliberate surrogate campaign, the Democrats' bloodletting at Miami Beach and the beginning of the destruction of George Stanley McGovern as a viable candidate (the man of goodwill unable to master the clean cruelty of necessary decision""), the revelation of the Watergate (then a caper, now a catastrophe -- White delayed his book to recapitulate the criminality, ""a seepage of lawlessness. . . from employees of the White House down""), and finally the landslide reelection of Richard Milhous Ninon. All of this is presented within the context of White's larger themes, that in 1972 the nation had reached ""a turning point, which had not yet reached a clarity of options,"" that America was changing, that the postwar world it had dominated for almost three decades ""was dead and awaited burial."" Nixon won because the options were not clear, because he exercised power in a confused world; McGovern, his blunders notwithstanding, lost most perhaps because he was unable ""to turn national debate to a consideration of the style of power itself."" Now, paradoxically, says White, that very question -- style of power -- is being debated in the press, in the Congress, in the minds of the people. In a large sense, the making of the President 1972 goes on. The first of White's ""President"" books (1960) was admittedly romantic; the middle two were lackluster; this one is his best.