Nixonland by Rick Perlstein
The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America

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Synopsis

Told with urgency and sharp political insight, Nixonland recaptures America's turbulent 1960s and early 1970s and reveals how Richard Nixon rose from the political grave to seize and hold the presidency.

Perlstein's epic account begins in the blood and fire of the 1965 Watts riots, nine months after Lyndon

Johnson's historic landslide victory over Barry Goldwater appeared to herald a permanent liberal consensus

in the United States. Yet the next year, scores of liberals were tossed out of Congress, America was more divided than ever, and a disgraced politician was on his way to a shocking comeback: Richard Nixon.

Between 1965 and 1972, America experienced no less than a second civil war. Out of its ashes, the political world we know now was born. It was the era not only of Nixon, Johnson, Spiro Agnew, Hubert H. Humphrey, George McGovern, Richard J. Daley, and George Wallace but Abbie Hoffman, Ronald Reagan, Angela Davis, Ted Kennedy, Charles Manson, John Lindsay, and Jane Fonda. There are tantalizing glimpses of Jimmy Carter, George H. W. Bush, Jesse Jackson, John Kerry, and even of two ambitious young men named Karl Rove and William Clinton -- and a not so ambitious young man named George W. Bush.

Cataclysms tell the story of Nixonland:

- Angry blacks burning down their neighborhoods in cities across the land as white suburbanites defend home and hearth with shotguns

- The student insurgency over the Vietnam War, the assassinations of Robert F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, and the riots at the 1968 Democratic National Convention

- The fissuring of the Democratic Party into warring factions manipulated by the "dirty tricks" of Nixon and his Committee to Re-Elect the President

- Richard Nixon pledging a new dawn of national unity, governing more divisively than any president before him, then directing a criminal conspiracy, the Watergate cover-up, from the Oval Office

Then, in November 1972, Nixon, harvesting the bitterness and resentment born of America's turmoil, was reelected in a landslide even bigger than Johnson's 1964 victory, not only setting the stage for his dramatic 1974 resignation but defining the terms of the ideological divide that characterizes America today.

Filled with prodigious research and driven by a powerful narrative, Rick Perlstein's magisterial account of how America divided confirms his place as one of our country's most celebrated historians.
 

About Rick Perlstein

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Rick Perlstein is the author of Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consenus, which won the 2001 Los Angeles Times Book Award for history and appeared on the best books of the year lists of the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Chicago Tribune. His essays and book reviews have been published in The New Yorker, the New York Times, the Washington Post, The Nation, The Village Voice, and Slate, among others. He has received a National Endowment for the Humanities grant for independent scholars. He lives with his wife in Chicago.
 
Published May 13, 2008 by Scribner. 896 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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Perlstein works the Nixonland notion to near-schtickery, but the point is well-taken, for the culture war that Pat Buchanan talks of today was born of the battle between so-called counterculture and the sector whom Nixon brilliantly conceived as the “silent majority.” “If you were a normal Americ...

Mar 01 2008 | Read Full Review of Nixonland: The Rise of a Pres...

Kirkus Reviews

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Despite Perlstein’s claim to CBS News’ Bob Schieffer, in a video introduction to these media enhancements, that these clips “complete” the book, a hard-copy reader of Nixonland probably would not lose much, if anything, from skipping this enhanced version.

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The New York Times

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Rick Perlstein’s sprawling, rollicking book argues that Richard Nixon is the explanation for everything — or at least for the rise of the right and the decline of almost everything else.

May 11 2008 | Read Full Review of Nixonland: The Rise of a Pres...

Publishers Weekly

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Perlstein, winner of a Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus , provides a compelling account of Richard Nixon as a masterful harvester of negative energy, turning the turmoil of the 1960s into a ladder to political notoriety.

Mar 10 2008 | Read Full Review of Nixonland: The Rise of a Pres...

Book Reporter

While Nixon’s political career pre-dated the conservative movement, the political vacuum created by Goldwater’s defeat also made possible Nixon’s political rebirth.

Jan 13 2011 | Read Full Review of Nixonland: The Rise of a Pres...

AV Club

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But Perlstein takes great care to contextualize Nixon, from the debate over public-school sex education to the inner leadership of the Yippies and the rise of Ronald Reagan, who defeated the gubernatorial incumbent who beat Nixon in 1966.

Jun 11 2008 | Read Full Review of Nixonland: The Rise of a Pres...

Suite 101

A challenging new book aims to change forever the perception of Stone Age Britons from the primitive to the sophisticated.

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The Bookbag

There has to be another side to the story though – Presidents (George W Bush aside) do not get to that position without there being some merit and a lot of hard work and whilst Rick Perlstein's Nixonland doesn't set out to rehabilitate the man it does provide a more balanced view of Nixon himself...

Oct 24 2009 | Read Full Review of Nixonland: The Rise of a Pres...

Bookmarks Magazine

Terry Hartle NY Times Book Review 2.5 of 5 Stars "Perlstein’s high-energy—sometimes too energetic—romp of a book also serves, inadvertently, a serious need: it corrects the cultural hypochondria to which many Americans, including Perlstein, are prone.

May 11 2008 | Read Full Review of Nixonland: The Rise of a Pres...

National Review Online

Perlstein: That was true 10 to 15 years ago, but if you went to a decent graduate history program like Columbia you’d see that half of the people who are working on “modern American history” are working on conservatism so it’s not true anymore.

May 23 2008 | Read Full Review of Nixonland: The Rise of a Pres...

The Satirist

Nixon’s lifelong striving (Perlstein works in just the right amount of back material about Nixon) reached its final goal with his historical political comeback in 1968 after his crushing defeats of 1960 and 1962.

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Rolling Stone

he talked about it at a Sunday worship service at the 1972 Republican convention, praying, "Help us to help those who need help.") Even if Mitt Romney is not the most right-wing candidate for the nomination, when he wins it, in a Republican Party becoming more extreme with every passing day, he m...

Jan 17 2012 | Read Full Review of Nixonland: The Rise of a Pres...

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