President Nixon Alone in the White House

July 3, 2018 Law

In this review on Richard Nixon Alone in the White House I will hit on some key points. I will begin with a short two paragraph summary of the book, while showing emphasis on the authors theme of the book. That will be followed by further elaboration of the author’s theme by using some cited illustrations from the book as backing for my findings. There will then be a personal analysis of the book with an insight as how it pertains to the course. This review will end with end with an overall assessment of the book as to its usefulness to the course U. S.

History Since 1877. In the book Richard Reeves gives a detailed account, an almost minute by minute overview of what Nixon was thinking, his actions, and his decisions. Reeves lets you know “what he knew and when he knew it and what he actually did. ”(13) The way that he does this is through interviews, and also using tapes and paper trails which were left behind by Nixon’s administration. The book is not so much a book of what Nixon did or did not do, but rather more of what Nixon was like as a man, and also what it was like to be around Nixon. It as though you are in the room with him knowing his every thought.

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This book is chalked full of memos that he wrote, many of which were to himself, as to what he wanted to accomplish both politically and personally. I feel that Reeves is trying to portray two themes pertaining to Nixon, first of which is that Nixon had an obsession for secrecy which led to his isolation; this is where the title Alone in the White House comes from. He did not trust hardly anyone; this was transferred throughout the administration. Nobody trusted anyone, they were all recording their phone calls, stealing each other’s papers and even bugging their own office.

This led to his uneasiness with people; he would memorize his every remark even for the most casual occasions. Secondly was his need to use his presidential power to make decisions on his own, in areas he cared the most about. These areas of concern are as follows: foreign policy, military matters, intelligence, law, criminal justice and general order. He had a tendency to leave key people out of the loop in decision making; those of which who should have been some of the first to be informed. The book also does a tremendous job at describing the high and low points of Nixon’s presidency.

From Nixon’s domestic policies, to his foreign affairs, all the way down to his demise with Watergate. It depicts his struggle with the antiwar protests in the country. There is also discussion on his fight with communism in Vietnam; from his televised speeches concerning the matter, to his strategies used to fight the war. Which include the mass bombing of North Vietnam, to the invasion of Cambodia, and the cease fire and the withdrawal of U. S. troops. It discusses his foreign affairs with the Soviet Union; and goes into great detail his history making voyage to China.

Then of course there is the topic that Nixon is so well known for, Watergate. Reeves does an immense job of giving a play by play of how everything unfolds. He paints the picture so well from begging to end that it feels as though you are going through the whole ordeal yourself. Reeves first theme of this book, is that Nixon was obsessed with secrecy and did not trust anyone; which is quite apparent throughout the book. Reeves does a fantastic job of giving a short summary of this in his introduction.

Where he tells of all the lies that were told to maintain secrecy, to the point where even Nixon himself at times had trouble remembering what was a lie, and what was true. It was no wonder that there was a lot of mistrust surrounding his presidency. For this reason they began to spy on each other, an example of this is as follows “The President and Kissinger sometimes seem lost trying to concoct truths to tell Secretary of State William Rogers and Defense Secretary Melvin Laird in order to undo the chaos of past lies, large and small.

It comes to no surprise then to learn that all the principals were spying on each other, stealing each other’s papers, tapping each other’s telephones, bugging their own offices. It was hard to keep track of the deceptions, even for the deceivers. ”(16) Reeves goes on to state “the President wanted a voice-activated system in the Oval Office and a switch-activated system in the Cabinet Room….. Taps were placed on the three phones in the office. ”(305) This is just a few examples of how paranoid Nixon was, and how much he distrusted people.

The second theme to this book is his need to use his presidential power to make decisions on his own, in areas he cared the most about. Reeves demonstrates this by saying “He was determined to exert presidential control over parts of the government he cared most about-the agencies dealing with foreign policy, military matters, intelligence, law, criminal justice, and general order…. The National Security Council, responsible only to the President, was not only a tribute to the bureaucratic skills of Nixon and Kissinger, it was a model for centralization and a tightening up of executive control. (230) I felt that this was a fabulous book, so often you only get the main facts of a person in history. Although with this book you get to know Nixon on a personal level, his thoughts and feelings, not just what he did. What I enjoyed most about the book was the fact that you feel you are right there as things are going down. It is as though you are living the experience, which makes it really hit home to what all went down during his time as president. The way that Reeves wrote this book makes it more of a fun read, rather than some other books which have a feeling of reading a text book.

This book pertains very much to the course, because it gives you a good grasp on what was happening during this time in history. It has given me a much more in-depth look at this era, because all you really ever learn in high school about Nixon is that he was involved in Watergate. This book gives a good insight into how someone in power can abuse that power and get away with it. When you are at the top of the totem pole everyone else is below you, and when someone has the power to do as they please, and takes use of that power there is no telling what they can do.

Richard Nixon is a vital part to understanding this section of the course and understanding him better helps you to understand this point in history better. The only flaw that I had with this book is simply that it stopped too soon. I want to know what happened to Richard Nixon following Watergate; what he did, how he felt and how he coped with everything that happened. I want to know how a man that is only associated with Watergate by so many people lives out the rest of his life. I hope that Reeves follows up on this book with the next chapter of Nixon’s life; his life after Watergate.

When reading this book I found many parallels from what was going on back then and also what is going on now. The biggest connection that I found was between Nixon and present day Bush, and the secrecy. Nixon had Watergate and Bush has 911. Why is it that when 911 happened we rushed foreign officials out of the US, when in all actuality we should have held them for questioning? Then there’s the fact that those towers never should have fallen, due to the melting temperature of the steel in the buildings. There is also something fishy on the way that these towers fell, which is they did not actually fall, they appeared to implode.

Which I have learned from watching both the History and Discovery channel, that it takes careful planning and precision detonation to pull off such a feat. The other thing is that we make a big fuss about the Nixon administration bugging rooms and tapping phone lines. Well at least they were not tapping civilian phone lines, which is what the government is doing today with the Patriot Act. Also who is to say that the top officials in the government are not executing their power today to help fatten their wallets? It seems a little strange that all the big wigs in government just so happen to have their hand in oil.

I have heard now that the Bakken Oil Formation is this biggest ever found in North America, it is suppose to rival the East. So then why are we so dependent on foreign oil? The last thing that I found that intertwined the past and present is the correlation between the Vietnam War and the Iraq War. In both instances we are fighting a war that we have really no reason to be fighting. And the biggest thing is that in both instances we are fighting a war that we cannot win. So maybe if Bush would have paid attention in school, and possibly graduated with the actual requirements, he may have learned from the past and not repeated it.

In my opinion the Iraq War is going to be the same as the Vietnam War, it is going to be a war that we seem to accidently skim over and not fully study, due to the fact that it is going to be an embarrassment to the county. In this paper I have given a short summary of the book President Nixon Alone in the White House, written by Richard Reeves. I have given the author’s themes of the book, which I have backed by cited illustrations from the book. There is my personal analysis of the book and how it pertains to the course. I have also added some correlation between what is discussed in the book and present day situations.


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