Being Nixon: A Man Divided
Everyone thinks they know Richard Nixon. His “Tricky Dick,” persona has come to define his perception. Evan Thomas, former Editor at Large of Newsweek and bestselling author of Ike's Bluff and Sea of Thunder, disposes of this cartoonish version of Nixon and creates a three dimensional portrait of a complex man filled with both light and darkness in his new book, Being Nixon: A Man Divided. This wonderfully composed character study of the United States' most infamous president dispels the common myths associated with Nixon while providing an intimate and evenhanded look at him in all his strangeness (Nixon’s chief of staff H.R. Haldeman called him “the weirdest man he ever met.”) Thomas interviewed 35 Nixon aides and went through recently released tapes and archives in order to piece together this carefully composed biography.
Being Nixon begins with an examination of Nixon’s youth and how his experiences shaped him as a man and a politician. The grandson of a devout Quaker, Richard Nixon grew up in the shadow of an older, favored brother, lived in a tool shed while he studied law at Duke, and thrived off of conflict and opposition. From high school to college, in the Navy and in politics, he was constantly finding causes and fighting his enemies. Hammy and occasionally over-sentimental, Nixon would reduce US audiences to tears with his famous "Checkers" speech despite his notorious "Tricky Dick" nickname. Arguably the architect of the modern Republican party and its "silent majority," Nixon was also deemed a liberal for his work desegregating southern schools, creating the Environmental Protection Agency, and ending the draft.
Balancing a wide range of historical accounts, Thomas reveals the complexities and contradictions behind the politician whose vision and foresight led him to achieve detente with the Soviet Union and open China― but whose use of underhanded political tactics earned him a reputation as a schemer long before the Watergate scandal. The result is a surprising, engaging look at a man capable of great bravery and extraordinary deviousness: a balanced and often surprising look at our most controversial president.
Evan Thomas will discuss Being Nixon in conversation with fellow author and journalist David Maraniss.
Evan Thomas is the author of nine books: The Wise Men (with Walter Isaacson), The Man to See, The Very Best Men, Robert Kennedy, John Paul Jones, Sea of Thunder, The War Lovers, Ike’s Bluff, and Being Nixon. John Paul Jones and Sea of Thunder were New York Times bestsellers. Thomas was a writer, correspondent, and editor for thirty-three years at Time and Newsweek, including ten years (1986–96) as Washington bureau chief at Newsweek, where, at the time of his retirement in 2010, he was editor at large. He wrote more than one hundred cover stories and in 1999 won a National Magazine Award. He wrote Newsweek’s fifty-thousand-word election specials in 1996, 2000, 2004 (winner of a National Magazine Award), and 2008. He has appeared on many TV and radio talk shows, including Meet the Press and The Colbert Report, and has been a guest on PBS’s Charlie Rose more than forty times. The author of dozens of book reviews for The New York Times and The Washington Post, Thomas has taught writing and journalism at Harvard and Princeton, where, from 2007 to 2014, he was Ferris Professor of Journalism.
David Maraniss is an associate editor at The Washington Post and a distinguished visiting professor at Vanderbilt University. He has won two Pulitzer Prizes for journalism and was a finalist three other times. Among his bestselling books are biographies of Jim Thorpe, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, Roberto Clemente, and Vince Lombardi, and a trilogy about the 1960s—Rome 1960; Once in a Great City (winner of the RFK Book Prize); and They Marched into Sunlight.