Paul Bryant's Reviews > Nixonland

Nixonland by Rick Perlstein
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it was amazing
bookshelves: history-will-teach-us-nothing
Read 2 times. Last read September 12, 2013.

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 Pentagon claimed what civilian casualties there were [in Vietnam] came from the Communists’ deliberate emplacement of surface-to-air missiles in populated areas. P 196

Ah, that old one – wasn’t our fault! They made us kill all those women and children! A song which has been sweetly sung by everyone at one time or another, most recently by President Assad. They make me kill these children just so that I look really bad! How mean of them! Don’t you realise their little game?

The problem was facing the wrath of all those decent Americans who didn’t want to face that their government was mad. P171

Mendel Rivers, House Armed Services Committee chairman, 1966 :

Flatten Hanoi and tell the world to go fly a kite. P171

After a big Stop the Draft targeting the Pentagon in October 1967 :

Two contending sets of rumors circulated: that cleanup crews found “nothing but bras and panties – you never saw so many”. And that two marchers had been dragged into the building and summarily executed. P 216

On Martin Luther King in 1967 :

He now frankly called himself a socialist. P250 (I didn’t know that)

A cop in 1967 talks about hippies :

Here’s a bunch of animals who call themselves the next leaders of the country…I almost had to vomit. It’s like dealing with any queer pervert, mother raper, or any of those other bedbugs we’ve got crawling around the Village. As a normal human being, you feel like knocking every one of their teeth out. It’s a normal reaction.

And why? Because of this kind of thing:

We will burn Chicago to the ground! We will fuck on the beaches! We demand the politics of ecstasy! Acid for all! Abandon the Creeping Meatball! YIPPIE!! Chicago – August 25-30. P291

At the trial of the Chicago 8 :

Questions asked during jury selection:

Do you know who Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin are?

If your children are female, do they wear brassieres all the time?

Abbie Hoffman rose with a flourish and blew a kiss at the jury.
The Judge, sternly : “The jury is directed to disregard the kiss from Mr Hoffman.”

Rand Corporation’s Vietnam experts :

Short of destroying the entire country and its people, we cannot eliminate the enemy force in Vietnam by military means. Reported in the New York Times, October 1968. P423

Nixon quoted talking to a White House aide, late 68:

It’s a piece of cake until you get to the top. You find you can’t stop playing the game the way you’ve always played it or because it is part of you and you need it as much as an arm or a leg… You continue to walk on the edge of the precipice because over the years you have become fascinated by how close to the edge you can walk without losing your balance. P460

Jerry Rubin. 10 April 1970 :

The first part of the Yippie program is to kill your parents. And I mean that quite literally, because until you’re prepared to kill your parents you’re not ready to change this country. Our parents are our first oppressors. P475

(I think Pol Pot was a Yippie then – his revolution was only five years in the future).

A Gallup poll found 58% blamed the Kent State students for their own deaths. Only 11% blamed the National Guard. P489

By that time National guardsmen were posted on 21 campuses in 16 states, 488 universities and colleges were closed (three quarters of the schools in Nevada and Maryland), the entire public school system in New York City was shut by order of the board of education… p490

Nixon in 1970 :

Certainly hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Americans – mostly under 30 – are determined to destroy our society. P518

Nixon again in 1971 :

I rate myself as a deeply committed pacifist p546

New York Times talking about California in 1971 :

Prophets of doom are as common as girls in bikinis (there are even a few prophets of doom in bikinis). P541

Charles Reich in The Greening of America talking about bell-bottom jeans :

They have to be worn to be understood… They give the ankles a freedom as if to invite dancing right on the street… p542

One of the prominent spokesmen for Vietnam Veterans Against the War was a “handsome, charismatic 27 year old” called John Kerry – yes, THAT John Kerry. I had no idea!

After the verdict on Lieut William Calley (in charge of the My Lai massacre) –

Within 24 hours the White House got 100,000 telegrams, calls and letters, 100 to 1 for Calley’s release. P556

In July 1972 Jerry Rubin popped up again – one magazine had this headline:

McGovern Backer No Longer Thinks Sons, Daughters, Should Kill Parents p686

George Meany, 1972 :

The Democratic Party has been taken over by people named Jack who look like Jills and smell like johns. P695

FBI note, mid 1972 :

Lennon appears to be radically oriented however he does not give the impression he is a true revolutionist since he is constantly under the influence of narcotics. P714

God bless you sir! And madam! Have a lovely evening!
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Reading Progress

June 11, 2013 – Shelved (Hardcover Edition)
June 11, 2013 – Shelved as: to-read-nonfiction (Hardcover Edition)
August 19, 2013 – Started Reading (Hardcover Edition)
August 19, 2013 –
page 20
2.23% "I opened this with fear and trembling (it's so BIG, such a COMMITMENT) but hell, the first chapter was fantastic, wow. He writes in a slangy, compressed style which can get a little too Tom Wolfe at times but I think it's very appropriate to the subject. So far LBJ is our Shakespearian hero (the time is out of joint, o cursed spite that ever I was born to set it right) and Nixon lurks." (Hardcover Edition)
August 20, 2013 –
page 70
7.82% "The next chapters bicycle frantically through the life and politics of Nixon himself - I will take young Perlstein to task on some of his language, it's maddening at times. But he tells a fantastically detailed story." (Hardcover Edition)
August 23, 2013 –
page 113
12.63% "prediction : 5 stars" (Hardcover Edition)
August 26, 2013 –
page 130
14.53% "this guy is brilliant but the level of detail is frightening, horrible, overwhelming and exhilarating all at the same time." (Hardcover Edition)
August 29, 2013 –
page 185
20.67% "some progress, but it feels like I'm living through every riot and reading Richard Nixon's every memo. Totally addictive in a slowwww kind of way." (Hardcover Edition)
August 31, 2013 –
page 200
22.35% "Summer of Love 1967 aka Summer of Riots leaving Many Dead" (Hardcover Edition)
September 4, 2013 –
page 254
28.38% "what a moment in early 68 when Democrats decide to run against their own sitting president! This book just gets better and better." (Hardcover Edition)
September 6, 2013 –
page 308
34.41% "MLK shot; RFK shot; Nixon hustles the Republican nomination; the Yippies and a few thousand other freaks converge on Chicago. It's Summer 1968." (Hardcover Edition)
September 6, 2013 –
page 350
39.11% "full scale pig riots in Chicago as Hube the Cube Humphries becomes the Democratic candidate, but they would have lost with anyone. All Nixon had to do was not be caught mainlining heroin in public between August and November. Or words to that effect. Goes to show you the size of these guys' egos - because who would want to be president in 1968 with riots and violence raining down from all sides?" (Hardcover Edition)
September 7, 2013 –
page 401
44.8% "Nixon in the White House. Now the paranoia begins to flower. Now the secret bombing of Cambodia. Which when it is discovered and reported, is approved of by 62% of the American public. This book is a slow read and a fast experience simultaneously." (Hardcover Edition)
September 8, 2013 –
page 436
48.72% "as the great Joni Mitchell once sang in 1970 - Acid, booze, and ass\n Needles, guns, and grass\n Lots of laughs lots of laughs (memo - review to include soundtrack; Neil Young, The Monkees for ironic effect, etc)" (Hardcover Edition)
September 9, 2013 –
page 499
55.75% "8 pages on Kent State; 1970 was a terrible year. This book is becoming an endurance test." (Hardcover Edition)
September 10, 2013 –
page 585
65.36% "everything falls into place which was only murky half-remembered phrases - My Lai, the Pentagon Papers, the White Panthers... this is a heck of a tale and I can't see it turning out well." (Hardcover Edition)
September 11, 2013 – Shelved as: history-will-tea... (Hardcover Edition)
September 11, 2013 – Finished Reading (Hardcover Edition)
Started Reading
September 12, 2013 – Shelved
September 12, 2013 – Shelved as: history-will-teach-us-nothing
September 12, 2013 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-8 of 8 (8 new)

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message 1: by Manny (last edited Sep 12, 2013 01:32PM) (new)

Manny This was a wonderful series of quotes.

McGovern Backer No Longer Thinks Sons, Daughters, Should Kill Parents p686

Does he mention that Edward Witten, the most influential theoretical physicist of our time, started his career by working for McGovern's failed Presidential campaign?

Paul Bryant no mention of Mr Witten; the implication is, however, that he would have been be-flaring his bell bottoms if he worked on that campaign. I hope that did not dent his credibility.

message 3: by Manny (new)

Manny He seems to have gone from strength to strength. It must have been what he needed, though it's hard to see why.

message 4: by Ted (last edited Sep 12, 2013 01:46PM) (new) - added it

Ted As the FBI notes of Lennon, "appears to be radically oriented however he does not give the impression he is a true revolutionist since he is constantly under the influence of narcotics."

And as the FBI well knows, all of those perfectly normal Americans, clearly not revolutionaries, patriots all, are constantly under the influence of "the opium of the people". narcotics good - clear thinking bad

Or was that Orwell?

Thanks for all the great quotes.

Simon I almost had to vomit. It’s like dealing with any queer pervert, mother raper, or any of those other bedbugs we’ve got crawling around the Village.

There's that whole verse in "Alice's Restaurant" that goes on about sitting among the draft rejects who are mother rapers and father killers and mother killers and father rapers and such. Released the same year as this quote, 1967. I wonder if that's where Guthrie got that rather striking phrase.

message 6: by Julio (new) - added it

Julio Genao Glorious stuff.

message 7: by David (new)

David Cerruti "Nixon again in 1971 :
I rate myself as a deeply committed pacifist p546"

Well, he was a Quaker.

Paul Bryant and he did a lot of quaking in 1973-4.

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