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Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America

4.18  ·  Rating details ·  8,255 ratings  ·  816 reviews
Politically insightful, Nixonland recaptures the turbulent 60s & early 70s, revealing how Dick Nixon rose from the political grave to seize & hold the presidency. Perlstein's account begins with the '65 Watts riots, nine months after Johnson's landslide victory over Goldwater appeared to herald a permanent liberal consensus. Yet the next year, scores of liberals were tosse ...more
Hardcover, 895 pages
Published May 13th 2008 by Scribner/Simon & Schuster (NYC)
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Average rating 4.18  · 
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Dec 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
“Call the America they shared – the America over whose direction [the Right and Left] struggled for the next fifty years, whose meaning they continue to contest even as this book goes to press, even as you hold it in your hands – by this name: Nixonland. Study well the man at Nixonland’s center, the man from Yorba Linda. Study well those he opposed. The history that follows is their political war…”
- Rick Perlstein, Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America

In Before the Sto
Call us America the Schizophrenic.

How else can you explain a country that embraced a right wing philosophy after a devastating terrorist attack that led to blindly following a moron for eight years, yet finally overwhelmingly rejected those politics by voting in the liberal opposition only to seemingly overnight turn into a nation of screaming maniacs who consider spending a dime on anything but guns and prisons a waste of tax payer money?

The cold comfort I got from reading Nixonland was that Am
Paul Bryant
Jun 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: british-history
You’re trudging slowly along one of those interminable moving walkways you get in airports; you have your political luggage with you. Each side of the walkway a thousand things are happening, it’s hard to take them all in – newspapers, blaring tv debates, screens showing footage of all kinds of violent bombings and assassinations, there's yelling ranting crowds on each side, there are looming politician’s faces spewing statistics and believable cures for cancer; and raining down on you a steady ...more
Paul Bryant
Sep 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: american-history
A supplemental review! - this is just some of my favourite outrageous quotes from Mr Perlstein and his mostly less than merry pranksters - starting with a jarring fact I found quite jaw-dropping:

…an LA cop stopped a black man named Leonard Deadwyler for speeding through Watts. He had been speeding [his wife] to the nearest hospital, miles away; there was no hospital in Watts, an area twice the size of Manhattan. P89

Here's something that will ring a bell with anyone who watches the news:

The Penta
E. G.

--Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America

Selected Bibliography
Oct 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This detailed recounting of American political history from 1964 to 1972 was fascinating to me as it brings back memories of my life between ages 14 and 22 when I must admit I was not as attentive to the national political situation as I should have been.

Anyone who reads American history, particularly of the period covered here, cannot help but realize how important the role of the whistleblower/leaker are to a democracy. As Noam Chomsky has so wisely said, things are not made secret because of
Aug 07, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed Nixonland very much, as Perlstein managed to intermingle many events and personages that were new to me with those of which I was considerably more aware, and to do so with an effortlessly breezy, witty, and readable style; however, this is a long book, and as the pages piled past it felt long—although it never dragged or stalled, it did eventually prove exhausting in the sheer accumulation of details on electioneering and strategizing, rioting and reacting, Vietnam maneuvering and Was ...more
Stephanie *Eff your feelings*
Apr 17, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2011, non-fiction
This was a hard book for me to get through. I had to take breaks and read two other books while getting through this one. It was a bit slow going, and also depressing.

Nixon was the first Republican president who was obsessed with power. Power was much much more important to him then doing the job of the president, which is to care for the welfare of the citizens of the United states. Up until Nixon, the presidents of the time new their job was to serve. To make this nation a great place to live
Bryan Alkire
Nov 09, 2020 rated it liked it
Worth reading or browsing once. Parts are interesting and parts are boring. It just depends on how much you’ve read about the era. It’s mostly readable though the details and mass of events can become overwhelming. It’s also tedious, as the quotes often say the same thing over and over about particular hobbyhorses. In short, a series of shorter books about various topics mentioned in this work might be easier to digest. Still, worth a look and a browse.
Jun 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
Nixonland is a divided America cynically manipulated and exploited by Richard Nixon. Rather than try to bring people together and heal the country in a time of turmoil, Nixon chose to exacerbate the tensions and polarize the country so he could pose as the savior for his so called silent majority. This is the second of Perlstein’s three books depicting the rise of modern American conservatism. It chronicles the violence and radical social change of the 1960’s, the domestic politics of the Viet N ...more
Apr 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Rick Perlstein’s Nixonland struck me as the book Hunter Thompson should or could have written, if he hadn't been so totally caught up in a haze of paranoia, drugs, and booze. But, in fairness to Thompson, he was on the ground in real time during these crazy years. What Perlstein captures, however, is Thompson’s full steam ahead energy, while at the same time cataloguing a decade’s worth of political and cultural mayhem (and I mean EVERTHING). To Perlstein’s credit, there are no sacred cows. I we ...more
Almost 900 pages of meticulously researched and documented items that basically boil down to two sayings: "The more things change, the more they stay the same." and "Those who ignore the lessons of history are doomed to repeat it." Enlightening. Almost like the entire 4 seasons of the Battlestar Galactica reboot. You go through hours of riveting plot and information only to be told in the end that "This has all happened before and it will happen again." It really is uncanny. So much of what we a ...more
Mar 21, 2018 rated it really liked it

Historian and journalist Rick Perlstein’s widely-praised “Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America” was published in 2008. His first book “Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus” explores American culture in the 1960s. Perlstein’s most recent book “The Invisible Bridge: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan” picks up where “Nixonland” ends. Perlstein is currently working on a fourth book in t
Oct 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Nixonland is a solid book on the Nixon Era. The first half in the early 1960s only tangentially covers Nixon himself. The second half covers mainly Nixon's presidency. Overall the book covers a little too much ground so many of the historical events and persons and anecdotes are thin. There are several vignettes of Reagan's governorship and protests and riots in California that seem like they could have made a good standalone book. But after the first half of Nixonland there is little mention of ...more
May 07, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I have long maintained that the most influential president of the 20th century was not FDR or Reagan but Richard Nixon. While Roosevelt may have created more programs and Reagan changed the economic tone of the nation, Nixon changed how we voted and how our politicians campaigned. And that may have the most longstanding effect on 21st century America.

Rick Perlstein traces that change through the tumultuous career of Richard Nixon. He illustrates how Nixon set on the formula of turning the "silen
Mar 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing
It starts with a riot and ends in an elegy, a deep feeling of loss. In between is almost nonstop frantic energy and bad moods. This is not a biography of Nixon, though he broods and connives throughout like Milton’s Devil, this book is a panorama or Boschian landscape of the era that brought this deeply paranoid, inferiority complex plagued man to power. The title of Nixonland is taken from an Adlai Stevenson quote, “a land of slander and scare, of sly innuendo, of poison pen and anonymous phone ...more
Dec 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
To understand how Trump was able to use race and class divisions to win the US Presidency this gives a good background to what happened a half-century ago with the rise of President Nixon and his blatantly racist "southern strategy". (Remember the US south ideologically speaking narrows but really goes all the way north through the US Biblebelt/Rustbelt to the Canadian border.) ...more
Nov 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
That time was fucked up. And Perlstein’s writing puts you knee deep in it.
Paquita Maria Sanchez
Let's not kid ourselves that we are living in unprecedented times in America. No, this has all happened before, and to an eerie degree. By all appearances, we'll never learn.

Sorry to be a bummer.
Jan 13, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This is a lengthy, but very detailed, discussion of how the modern political landscape came to be. Writing too much about it would rehash the book, but the author comes from his background as an analyst of Barry Goldwater's effect on the FDR-Truman consensus to discuss how Nixon leveraged, and extended, social divisions and the rifts in American public consciousness to create his political career.

If you think you fully understand the modern culture wars, and everything that went on in the 1960s,
Pglusman Glusman
Aug 01, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I am of the age where, until his death in 1994, I considered Nixon to be the omnipresent evildoer. He was around when I was born, and he was still around 47 years later. You couldn't get rid of him. I felt the boomers would be more correctly called the "Nixon Generation." I was too young to remember him vilifying Helen Gahagan Douglas, but I do remember him as Vice-president getting (literally) stoned in Caracas. I remember him running againt Pat Brown for Governor. His, "you won't have Nixon to ...more
Matt Brady
Apr 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Richard Nixon. Old "Tricky Dick. Ol' Tricky Dick Nixon. Good old Milhouse. Old Tricchard Dixon. Slick Ricky. Nasty Nixo. Ol' Rubber Nose. The Sweaty Boy. What an utter prick. ...more
Jan 01, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: politics
Warning: this review is a gusher. Here it is, one of my favorite books. I swallowed it whole--all 800 pages of it. Perlstein is simply amazing. He maintains a fast-paced story line that charges like an action movie. He leaks in his own commentary and ironic observations throughout. He culls together all manner of sources and ephemera, from transcribed clips of TV news broadcasts of the era, first-hand accounts of historical events like the ’68 Democratic Convention, memoirs from Nixon’s sides, B ...more
Aug 27, 2008 rated it really liked it
I put Perlstein’s Nixonland on my "to read" shelf, after I read a very effective and thorough review of the book in the September 1/8, 2010, edition of The Nation. Perstein's book is a must-read for any one interested in the Republican Party's calculated obliteration of whatever tatters and remnants of New World democracy still informed the American polity during the years that Perlstein examines.

I found that this book, although a great read, as one would expect from a much honored journalist,
Jun 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Though one might mistake Nixonland for being an exhaustively researched and detailed biography of Richard Nixon, Rick Perlstein's tome is something very different. Nixonland's central character is not the man himself, but the America in which he rose to power. Nixon's role in these times, the manner in which he manipulated and exploited events, seems of secondary importance (at least to this reader.) Nixonland's real triumph is Perlstein's startlingly vivid resurrection of America in the years 1 ...more
Jun 24, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I was looking for an epic book to read this summer and in today's political climate in America this seemed to be a good choice. Unfortunately I can't stand the author's style and that's too much of an obstacle to overcome in such a big book so I'm quitting after reading just five chapters.

The author is too prominent in the narrative to ignore. I can almost feel him elbowing me every time he makes what seems to him to be a clever or witty comment about Nixon's iron ass (i.e. his ability to patien
Jan 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
For the mission that Perlstein set out to accomplish, namely assessing how America could go from voting in such a large majority for LBJ to voting for Nixon in an equally overwhelmingly way, this book is nearly perfect at accomplishing that. This book is not a biography of Richard Nixon. I think Perlstein's writing is best summed up by something he wrote for the Baffler:

I write long history books that are published with photos of presidents and presidential aspirants on the covers. The photos a
Nick Black
Jan 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
a pretty extraordinary history. definitely the answer for all you people who were fretting "how could this have happened? this is a new thing, unseen before" when trump got elected. it's nothing new at all, really.

i had a much longer, more meaningful review plotted out in my head, but it would lead to political discussion on my Goodreads feed, something i've steadfastly refused for about a decade now (as a first-generation-collegiate Samoan Libertarian from the southeastern united states, i'm so
Brian Eshleman
Nov 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
Interesting mesh of man and era, when the author focuses on it. Sometimes Nixon psychobiography and historical narrative only occasionally intersect and lack a causal link. Was disappointed that with such a glaring divide between the challengers and defenders of the culture that the author didn't find people doing both. The Jesus Movement, for instance, challenged many cultural assumptions without undermining Biblical family and sexual teachings. ...more
Mar 14, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nixon; brilliant, conniving, duplicitous, paranoid, self-conscious, striving. This was a man peculiarly able to manipulate upheaval and confusion to his own benefit. Nixon's first politically conscious act was to organise a college club called the Orthogonians. This club was for the remnants of the student body who didn't make it to or felt excluded by a "circle of swells" called Franklins. The Franklins were the kids who always wore black ties in photos and knew how to carry it off. They were s ...more
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Eric S. "Rick" Perlstein (born 1969) is an American historian and journalist. He graduated from the University of Chicago with a B.A. in History in 1992. He is a former writer for The Village Voice and The New Republic and the author of numerous articles in other publications. Until March, 2009 he was a Senior Fellow at the Campaign for America's Future where he wrote for their blog about the fail ...more

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72 likes · 20 comments
“He (Nixon) needed someone with him so he could be alone.” 8 likes
“In these difficult years, America has suffered from a fever of words: from inflated rhetoric that promises more than it can deliver; from angry rhetoric that fans discontents into hatreds; from bombastic rhetoric that postures instead of persuading.” 7 likes
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