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Crooked

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3.37  ·  Rating details ·  1,388 ratings  ·  281 reviews
Award-winning novelist Austin Grossman reimagines the Cold War as an epic battle against the occult waged by the ultimate American antihero: Richard Nixon.

Richard Milhous Nixon lived one of the most improbable lives of the twentieth century. Our thirty-seventh president's political career spanned the button-down fifties, the Mad Men sixties, and the turbulent seventies. H
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Hardcover, 355 pages
Published July 28th 2015 by Mulholland Books
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Michael I'd call it more of a political thriller with supernatural elements. "Horror" is a little too strong of a term.…moreI'd call it more of a political thriller with supernatural elements. "Horror" is a little too strong of a term.(less)
Michael It's not a zombie book. The supernatural elements are more Lovecraftian, in the sense that there are dark powers and insane magic lurking behind the s…moreIt's not a zombie book. The supernatural elements are more Lovecraftian, in the sense that there are dark powers and insane magic lurking behind the scenes.(less)

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Kemper
Even in a fictional book in which he’s supposed to be the hero Richard Nixon can't help but be an asshole.

The concept here is that when Nixon was an underhanded congressman trying to prove that Alger Hiss was a Soviet spy he inadvertently stumbled across a hidden occult world of Lovecratfian style horrors. This discovery and his ambition paves the way for him to become a reluctant KGB spy which in turn helps him become vice-president. He then learns that President Eisenhower has control of vast
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Nick
Aug 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
Nixon fights Cthulhu - not hand to hand, and not by name, but that's your premise, and let's just fess up and say Oooooooh, yeaaah!

Does it work? Yes, but maybe not the way you're thinking. Austin Grossman brings you Nixon like you've never seen him before: vulnerable, self-hating, adrift. This isn't a trashfest. It's in line with John Scalzi's Redshirts: a book that takes a cool pop culture premise and spins it into something totally unexpected. In this case, it's a Nixon bio, or a bio-drama, a
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Ron Charles
May 26, 2015 rated it liked it
Sorry, Woodward and Bernstein. You were duped, along with the rest of us. That so-called Watergate scandal was just a little play-acting to cover up the real story, a crucible of horror that would melt the face off any ordinary American.

Except, of course, for Richard Milhous Nixon.

Here, finally, our disgraced 37th president fills in those 18 1/2 minutes, and much more, to reveal the shocking truth about what he did, what dark forces he fought and what brave sacrifices he made to preserve the Uni
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Dave
Sep 03, 2015 rated it did not like it
The premise offered so much potential. It's too bad the book wasn't as well written as the publisher's summary that drew me in. Crooked is the story of Richard Nixon's political life told by RMN himself. Except it's not quite the same history we know. Far from being a paranoid, bungling schemer, Nixon is in fact sacrificing his reputation in order to allow the USA to win the Cold War with mystical supernatural weapons. While Vice President, he learns from Eisenhower that US Presidents have been ...more
Paul
Apr 06, 2016 rated it liked it
3.5 stars interesting and entertaining but it could have been more fun
Lauren Stoolfire
Richard Nixon's political career spanned from the 1950's to the 1970's. He went from a mastermind to a national joke. What if the man we call the nation's worst president is actually one of our greatest? In this alternate history, a young Nixon stumbled upon a supernatural secret and its ties to world politics ranging from the truth behind the Cold War to the Watergate cover-up.

Grossman put a good deal of effort into crafting Crooked by basing it in what we know to be historical fact peppered w
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Mike (the Paladin)
Nov 30, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror, political
Nope.

This could have been a good book. We're promised that we'll get a story about a supernatural threat that was involved in the history of the country. The Cold War, history before the Cold War...the Watergate break in, all part of a supernatural battle.

What we get is the author's pontificating through the mouth of the fictional Richard Nixon.

He recounts events of the life and political career of Mr. Nixon dropping in his own shots and versions of events (don't go here for actual history) wit
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Jim
Aug 29, 2015 rated it it was ok
Great premise, shoddy execution. While the author clearly knew "stuff" about Nixon, he could have better used the Nixon voice and style that people recognize to better comedic effect. Instead, the narrator just sounded like some dude and not Nixon. Also, for a short book, the plot took too long to unfurl and there was a lot of scenery chewing that led to nowhere. ...more
Colin McKay Miller
Aug 25, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: novels
Austin Grossman’s Crooked bends into disappointment.

If you know anything about U.S. President Richard Nixon, it’s his involvement in the Watergate scandal and his subsequent resignation. In Crooked, Austin Grossman reimagines Nixon’s political career through the prism of him (and governments worldwide) fighting against supernatural evils. He’s still a rather unpleasant fellow, but you understand many of the choices he makes.

People argue whether Crooked is horror or a political thriller mixed wi
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Quinn Cummings
Feb 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A glorious, singular fever dream of a novel; what if Nixon was every bit the flawed, pathetic man we thought he was, but was also fighting immeasurable paranormal evil? Grossman takes real figures, historic events, and confidently runs them through a kaleidoscope, creating a world both wild and yet somehow as plausible as the actual events and people. I've wracked my brain trying to think of something to compare it to, finally settling on "Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell," but it's not quite th ...more
Tripp
How good a writer is Austin Grossman? Good enough to turn Richard Nixon into an antihero worth rooting for. Not by denying what Nixon was, fudging and airbrushing the historical record, but by making him the first-person protagonist and having him accept and confess, at least in the interior monologue to which we, the readers, are privy, his many flaws.

Grossman also gives him a reimagined Cold War to fight and embeds in that struggle an even darker threat, one that recasts many of Nixon's worst,
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Allen Adams
Jul 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
http://www.themaineedge.com/buzz/croo...

What if Richard Nixon was not our worst president, but our greatest?

That’s the question posed by Austin Grossman’s “Crooked”, a novel that offers an intriguing explanation for Nixon’s punchline of a political career. What if Richard Nixon had in fact stumbled upon the darkest of dark secrets buried between the lines of the United States Constitution? What if he discovered that the Cold War was about far more than a mere nuclear arms race, but rather the we
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Danielle
Jun 16, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: giveaways
Political intrigue, US history, conspiracy and the supernatural all come together in this novel to create an unusual twist on a memorable president and scandal. The beginning of the book reminded me a little bit of the Netflix show, House of Cards, with the relationship between Nixon and his wife, Pat, and the focus on doing whatever it takes to get into the White House. That similarity was only brief, however.

The supernatural aspect was unique but not fully explained. The suspense in the book
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Wdmoor
From the reviews about the book to the blurbs on the back I had high hopes for this book. Richard Nixon a wizard, how cool! I was expecting a cross between The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher and the excellent Laundry Files series by Charles Stross. The opening chapter rocked and then...well...I'm not sure what happened. The book slips back through time to Nixon's boyhood in California. There's lots of first person point of view inside Nixon's head as a miserable child, then a miserable teen leadin ...more
Stefan
Austin Grossman’s new novel, Crooked, features a very different Richard Nixon from the one you may remember from history class. To illustrate, allow me to start this review with a brief quote from the book’s opening chapter, showing Nixon in the Oval Office:

"I closed the blinds, knelt down, and rolled back the carpeting to reveal the great seal of the office, set just beneath the public one. I rolled up my left sleeve and cut twice with the dagger as prescribed, to release the blood of the Democ
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Joe
Jul 29, 2015 rated it liked it
The book had the potential for greatness but ultimately topped out at goodness, which is fine but I was hoping for more. I love the concept: Richard Nixon stumbles upon a Lovecraftian Black Magic plot that goes all the way to the top. He inadvertently gets involved, becomes a Soviet spy, has crazy adventures. Sounds great, right? Except the adventures were crazy, but just not much fun. This is one of those books that you suspect all the cool stuff is happening just off stage, to another, more in ...more
Korey
Nov 28, 2015 rated it it was ok
Not half as good as it could have and should have been. This is a spectacular premise that Grossman under delivers upon. I think Grossman tries to cover too much time in Crooked. The book tracks Nixon's whole political career, meaning that the book has to survey almost thirty years. This leads to a rushed, superficial treatment of both the realistic elements of the plot and the supernatural components Grossman adds.

I think this book has a good grasp on who Nixon was psychologically, but since i
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Mark
Oct 25, 2015 rated it it was ok
For about fifty pages I thought I was reading a great campy novel. Austin Grossman establishes a voice for Nixon (the novel is narrated by Nixon) that is pitch perfect and never winks at the reader despite the absurd silliness of the events being described. In fact, it's the first few chapters that convinced me to pick this book up as a must read. But then, nothing very interesting happens. We get all the major events of Nixon's political life from Alger Hiss to the resignation filtered through ...more
Dave
Apr 14, 2016 rated it it was ok
Disappointed. That's the main feeling I have, after finishing this one.
Nixon is the first President I remember. (I was born in 1968) My dad was a "Tricky Dick" supporter, and I remember the 'Watergate" scandal very well.
When I read the blurb on this one, I grabbed it, couldn't wait to read it.
This is Nixon's story, told by the man himself. The premise here is that there are supernatural forces at work, and both the USA and Russia are trying to gain the upper hand using them.
Parts of this book
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Christopher Saunders
Austin Grossman's Crooked gives Richard Nixon the Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter treatment, pitting Tricky Dick against the supernatural. I'll echo other reviewers that it's more interesting in concept than execution; the book's better in its early chapters when younger Nixon's fumbling around the edges of Revelation rather than immersed in it. Partly because Grossman does a poor job building the Supernatural elements, beyond a recurring immortal villain who spends his days causing trouble in t ...more
Cassie
Mar 24, 2016 rated it did not like it
I was given this book with a sticky note on it that said, "This was weird." While I didn't think it was exceptionally weird, I did think it was boring and poorly written (there were some good one-liners, though). It is a great idea, but I don't think Grossman made it work. There wasn't enough supernatural elements to make it interesting (in my opinion), the characters were flat and emotionless, and it ended up quite tedious. I think the shame in it is that I've read actual biographies that were ...more
Jued
Jun 17, 2016 rated it liked it
I loved the premise for this story: repaint one of the most reviled characters in US history as a hero in an unknown war against the undead. In practice, creating Nixon as a hero who understands so little about his powers, his role, or the threat facing him made for a challenging read. It motivated me to learn more about Nixon, though, and I enjoyed fact-checking the many historical points in the book.
Chickadee
Jan 15, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: fiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mitchell
May 10, 2016 rated it it was ok
This book has a lot of promise, yet didn't really deliver for me. I'm interested in Richard Nixon and the book wasn't fantastical enough nor humorous enough. The fantasy element just seemed to peter out. I can't really recommend this book. ...more
Susan
Feb 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a seriously weird book. I went through Watergate, and remember all the different theories that people had about Richard Nixon, but I don't remember anyone thinking he was a Soviet intelligence asset. But wait--you don't have to read Marx to understand this book; you'd be better off reading Lovecraft. It seems that Nixon was ensnared by a few Soviet agents--Arkadi and Tatiana--who are also worried about the USSR's development of other-worldly/prehistoric weaponry. Eisenhower knows a lot a ...more
Kenneth
Oct 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
A first person 'biography' of Richard Nixon as told by the love child of HP Lovecraft and Hunter S. Thompson. Nixon spends his career fighting the occult cold war between America and the USSR. What? That's not enough for you? The voice of Nixon is superb, self serving, loathsome, yet at the same time self aware and seeking approval. Bravo. ...more
Eric Stockwell
Aug 05, 2019 rated it liked it
A fun, ridiculous little book told in the first person as Richard Nixon explaining away his actions and personality quirks as being part of a historical worldwide struggle against Lovecraftian horrors.
Matt Montgomery
Sep 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was bizarre, fascinating and captivating, and I wish badly that every word was true. (Its not, right?)
Rob
Mar 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This novel was not what I expected. In some ways, it was deeper and more satisfying. In other ways, it was disappointing. But to be fair, the disappointment is due to my preconceptions and expectations, rather than to the story itself. Although I do think that the back-cover blurb is a little bit misleading.

In any case, I do very much recommend the book for fans of weird fiction and historical fiction.
Nicholas Karpuk
If you've read both, it's difficult not to compared Crooked to Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. Both deal with the idea that a president had a secret life, but there's two distinctions that became clear to me very quickly: Grossman is a better writer, and Crooked doesn't try to suggest that Nixon was a different sort of man.

The world of Crooked takes the sneaky, mean-spirited subterfuge of Nixon, and suggests that there was a whole world of supernatural nightmares beneath the recorded history. I
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Austin Grossman graduated from Harvard University in 1991 with a plan to write the great American novel; instead he became a video game designer at Looking Glass Studios.

He has since contributed as a writer and designer to a number of critically acclaimed video games, such as ULTIMA UNDERWORLD II, SYSTEM SHOCK, DEUS EX, and TOMB RAIDER: LEGEND, and has taught and lectured on narrative in video ga
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