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President Nixon: Alone in the White House

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  494 ratings  ·  33 reviews
Who was Richard Nixon? The most amazing thing about the man was not what he did as president, but that he became president at all. Using thousands of new interviews and recently discovered or declassified documents and tapes, Richard Reeves's President Nixon offers a surprising portrait of a brilliant and contradictory man.
Even as he dreamed of presidential greatness, Ni
Paperback, 704 pages
Published October 10th 2002 by Simon Schuster (first published September 18th 2001)
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Apr 09, 2018 rated it really liked it

President Nixon: Alone in the White House” by Richard Reeves was published in 2001. Reeves is a former journalist and the author of sixteen books, including biographies of John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan. He has served as Chief Political Correspondent for The New York Times, as National Editor and Columnist for New York Magazine and Esquire and was Chief Correspondent for PBS’s “Frontline.”

Reeves’s book is neither a comprehensive survey of Nixon’s life n
Christopher Saunders
For novice history buffs looking for an introduction to Richard Nixon, there probably isn't a better choice than Richard Reeves' President Nixon: Alone in the White House. A former reporter-turned-historian, Reeves (who authored similar books on JFK and Reagan) crafts a breezy, well-written and engaging narrative of Nixon's presidency; almost a day-by-day account in spots, from his inauguration in January 1969 to April 1973, when his top aides Bob Haldeman and John Ehrlichman resigned and Waterg ...more
Paul Swendson
Jul 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is a very thorough overview of Nixon's first term in office. The author glosses over most of Nixon's second term, describing it as being swallowed up by the Watergate affair.

I first heard about this book when listening to the author talk about it on NPR. He described how he was able to get access to a huge amount of Nixon's personal notes. Apparently, Nixon would sit around through much of his presidency writing notes to himself on yellow note pads. By gaining access to Nixon's personal not
Aaron Million
Jul 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: american-history
Another good behind-the-scenes look at a presidency by Reeves. And, no presidency had more going on in the shadows than Richard Nixon's. Reeves details the isolation and rampant paranoia of Nixon - a man who would at times communicate with his wife via memos, obsess over his "enemies" - of which he had many, backstab people, lie, and try to ruin others' careers simply because he could. Nobody here comes off looking good: Nixon, Haldeman, Ehrlichman, Dean, Mitchell, Colson, Kissinger, Rogers, Agn ...more
Sep 03, 2008 is currently reading it
Like some zombie that's overstayed its welcome, old ski-nose (or was that Bob Hope, I get the two confused) just keeps coming back for more. Dirty tricks, brain-dead ideologies, and banal hypocrisy are all part of the Republican Party's arsenal these days. Nixon's vision of a Republican-controlled New South still bleeds Red. And his prediction that the superior "Yellow Race" would eventually come out on top over the black-and-white versions? Hey, did you happen to check out where that American f ...more
Tim Huang
Dec 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
If this absolute behemoth of a book were written about any other person, it would be unreadable. Thankfully, the author chose one of the most paranoid, Machiavellian, isolated, and fascinating Presidents. What emerges from this meticulously detailed portrayal of Nixon's presidency is the sense that Nixon was more of a politician than a human. Here was a guy who wrote memos to his wife and daughters and was always willing to sacrifice anything for political expediency. And yet, even Nixon's worst ...more
Roz Milner
Jan 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
A huge, exhaustive look at Nixon’s first term of office, Reeves’ book is a compelling day-by-day look at the making and unmaking of a presidency, often at the same time. It’s an interesting read.

When Nixon rolled into the Oval Office in 1969, he brought in a handful of loyalists whose jobs were to insulate him from stuff he deemed un-presidential. If people wanted to talk with him, they had to go through Chief of Staff H.R. Haldeman first. So right from the get-go, maybe Nixon’s presidency was d
Daniel Silliman
Jun 26, 2021 rated it really liked it
Solid work with a clear (and compelling) thesis that actually carries through the entire bio.
May 19, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: big-white-square
"There was one last piece of business concerning the session (with Chairman Mao). The President's men asked the Chinese photographers to cut Winston Lord out of their pictures before they were given to the press. That way they could tell the State Department that the Chinese had insisted that only the Preident and Kissinger come to Mao's house."

"President Nixon had memorized his toast, and that had caused a strange scene in the American party between Dwight Chapin, the White House advance chief,
Dan Cohen
Nov 05, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An excellent account of Nixon's time in the White House, or, as the author observes, largely out of the White House as he apparently avoided the place during his time in office. It seems a reasonably balanced account but Nixon still comes across as venal and something of a buffoon. Probably worth following up with Bob Woodward's "The Final Days" which goes into a lot more detail for the final period of the presidency. The main theme, as suggested by the title, is how Nixon cut himself off from a ...more
Mar 28, 2007 rated it really liked it
This is such an impressive, comprehensive biography of Nixon during his years in the White House. You will marvel at Reeves's ability to weave events out of the thousands of minutes of conversations and endless documents he had to review to write this chronicle. From his work comes an interesting though not all that surprising take on Nixon as somewhat of a recluse whose own closed-offness led him to shun potentially worthy advice and act on or try to act on sometimes vindictive whims. Sound fam ...more
Jan 25, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent bio of Nixon. Although Reeves is an establishment liberal, he approaches Nixon with an open mind and gives him his due. The fascinating part is that much of what the press reported and subsequently reported concerning the Nixon White House Horrors is verified independently by Reeves.
Feb 04, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating account of what went on in the Nixon administration. It's a period of history I knew very little of. ...more
Shawn Ryan Rosa
Apr 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Excellent work by Reeves, definitely worth reading for a better grasp on this largely mistunderstood president.
Dec 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: u-s-presidents
I discovered this author by accident and read a book he wrote on President Kennedy (Profile in Power) and thought it was a wonderful read, so I had no problem snapping this one up on Richard Nixon. The style of writing is the same in both books; the two men, as most know, radically different.

This is not a biography. Like its ‘Kennedy’ counterpart, this retrospective focuses on Nixon’s years in the office as president. The narrative starts during his inauguration in 1969 and finishes in April of
May 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nls-audio
It’s no secret that the Nixon presidency has captivated and fascinated me. Even as a kid living through it, I was drawn to it in the way all of us are drawn to a train wreck or some other horrific inevitability we can see coming and can’t see how to change.

I don’t pretend to have vivid memories, especially of the first full term. Of course, I recall that funky-sounding call to the lunar surface, and I have vague memories of my Scoop-Jackson-style-Democrat parents fuming about wage and price cont
Apr 08, 2020 marked it as wish-list
Starred Review in Booklist --https://www.booklistonline.com/Presid...
Syndicated columnist Reeves plunges into the mountains of written material and tapes generated by “a presidency . . . documented with a compulsion that will probably never be repeated,” adds interviews and oral histories, and emerges with a nuanced, immensely sad portrait of Richard Nixon at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Alone is the title’s key word: unlike most politicians, before or after him, Nixon was a loner, as introverted a
Apr 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is a startlingly detailed account of Richard Nixon's presidency, but very rarely does it drag.

What is striking is how something like the Watergate scandal that brought Nixon down seemed almost bound to happen. Very early on, dishonesty and distrust were the order of the day in the Nixon White House. From that, the Watergate break-in and cover-up were almost natural follow-ons.

Jun 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A meticulously researched fly-on-the wall account of Nixon’s first term of presidency that gives a highly detailed examination of his psyche whilst in office. To say he was a complicated, lonely and troubled man would be putting it mildly, and this examination of his tenure in the White House, and his eventual disgrace in exiting it, is a compelling read.
Brian Thomas
Jul 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Well researched account of Richard Nixon's presidency, covering all aspects of his successes and failings. Reeves provides outstanding insight into Nixon's struggles with ending the Vietnam War, engaging with China, Watergate, and other key topics. ...more
Erik Graff
Jun 01, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: US citizens
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: biography
As its title indicates, 'President Nixon' is about the years in the White House, focusing on the campaigns for the office, the recognition of Peoples' China, detente with the USSR and withdrawal from Vietnam--and, surprisingly, not all that much about the final stages of the Watergate investigations leading to resignation. In the course of this the characters of both Nixon and his staff, the culture of the White House, are revealed in such a manner that Nixon's fall appears almost tragic.

Jul 29, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a day by day account of Mr. Nixon's Presidency, based on the government's own documentation. The reader can see the "ordinariness" and pettiness of the man, and also watch his mental state deteriorate as the pressures of his role collide with the massive ego that drove him to the position in the first place. It's interesting to see that the majority of the current "neocon" leadership was either already active in Nixon's administration , or was appointed by him. That's your Perots, Rumsfe ...more
Apr 05, 2008 rated it liked it
Richard Reeves is a fair author. Having read his previous book on President Kennedy, I was interested in his take on Nixon. This book is not a bio, nor is it a political history per se. Rather this book, like the Kennedy and Reagan books, weaves a path through the first four years of Nixon's presidency. The age old question will always remain: how a guy as smart as Richard Nixon, and he was smart, got caught up in a bevy of intrigue, black ops, and paranoia. ...more
Aug 02, 2011 rated it really liked it
Fascinating day by day study of the Nixon administration. The president comes across as a very odd man with some good political instincts. It emphasizes foreign policy, clearly Nixon's primary area of interest, with the visits to Russia and China and the cynical winding down of the Vietnam War prominent in the story. It demonstrates how Nixon concentrated power in the White House and basically ignored the Cabinet departments. No one looks good in this story, which presents a portrait of an amora ...more
Feb 04, 2014 rated it did not like it
Explains the watergate scandal and the lead up to it well. Also paints a good picture of what the president was like. I found it to be informative and entertaining when it was going over relevant topics. Although I did think there was also a lot of unnecessary dialog which dragged and made the book difficult to go back to. I wish it had focused more on all the key areas everyone wants to know about.
Neil Pierson
Jul 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
"How am I supposed to plot the destruction of my enemies when you keep interrupting me with this... this... presidential shit?"

Okay, Nixon never said this - at least out loud. But he probably thought it constantly. It was the dilemma he created for himself by seeking to control every detail in the federal government without having to endure human contact.

To you, Nixon may have seemed a crabbed, paranoid, vindictive would-be tyrant. Actually, he was worse.
Grindy Stone
Jan 28, 2013 rated it liked it
A glorified timeline - this is a good jumping off point for anyone interested in the Nixon presidency (though it ends in April, 1973). The only new tidbit I got was reading about Bob Haldeman on the Oval Office tapes reporting to RMN that Mark Felt was talking to the press about Watergate, specifically to the Washington Post. This was some years before Felt was outed as Deep Throat.
Jul 30, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: marthasbooks
Want a preview of the imperialist neo-fascist presidency of George W. Bush? Read this book. An insight into Nixon's humanity (and I don't mean that in a good way) and also a damn frightening look at the abused of power within our fragile democracy. ...more
Troy Jensen
Nov 02, 2015 rated it did not like it
I’ve read MANY biographical books on President Nixon. Reeves ideological slant and blatant misstatement of facts that have since been proven false with new documents released renders this take on Nixon irrelevant. Many other more recent Nixon biographies that are FAR superior.
Feb 09, 2009 rated it really liked it
Not possible to read enough about President Nixon
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Richard Reeves, the bestselling author of such books as President Kennedy: Profile in Power, is an award-winning journalist who has worked for The New York Times, written for The New Yorker, and served as chief correspondent for Frontline on PBS. He was the senior lecturer at the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California and lived in Los Angeles.

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