The New York Times Bestseller
A shocking and riveting look at one of the most dramatic and disastrous presidencies in US history, from Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award winner Tim Weiner
Based largely on documents declassified only in the last few years, One Man Against the World paints a devastating portrait of a tortured yet brilliant man who led the country largely according to a deep-seated insecurity and distrust of not only his cabinet and congress, but the American population at large. In riveting, tick-tock prose, Weiner illuminates how the Vietnam War and the Watergate controversy that brought about Nixon's demise were inextricably linked. From the hail of garbage and curses that awaited Nixon upon his arrival at the White House, when he became the president of a nation as deeply divided as it had been since the end of the Civil War, to the unprecedented action Nixon took against American citizens, who he considered as traitorous as the army of North Vietnam, to the infamous break-in and the tapes that bear remarkable record of the most intimate and damning conversations between the president and his confidantes, Weiner narrates the history of Nixon's anguished presidency in fascinating and fresh detail.
A crucial new look at the greatest political suicide in history, One Man Against the World leaves us not only with new insight into this tumultuous period, but also into the motivations and demons of an American president who saw enemies everywhere, and, thinking the world was against him, undermined the foundations of the country he had hoped to lead.
Weiner, a National Book Award winner for Legacy of Ashes, pulls no punches in his devastating account of Nixon's presidency, drawing on documents declassified in the last seven years. As his depressing introductory note states, "For those who lived under Nixon, it is worse than you may recollect. For those too young to recall, it is worse than you can imagine." Weiner doesn't spend much time on Nixon's formative years, judging them to be irrelevant to an objective assessment of a ruthless politician one whose conduct in the 1968 presidential campaign L.B.J. later deemed treasonous. For those who remember Nixon primarily for Watergate, Weiner also presents an eye-opening account of his role in the Vietnam War, when he initiated all-too-serious discussions of using nuclear weapons on the North Vietnamese. Weiner describes Nixon as "at war with his own military leaders" and notes that the president "would drink toasts and sign treaties with the men who were arming his enemies." Additionally, chilling excerpts from tape recordings that have only recently been made accessible include cold-blooded exchanges between Nixon and then Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in which the two debate the merits of committing war crimes in order to win in Vietnam. This is powerful raw material, but Weiner's brilliant turns of phrase transform it into something extraordinary.
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How someone can break the law on almost everday, (in a major, go to jail for decades if you're not, The President, kind of way) isn't the surprising thing. Nope. The fact that he was sure to record basically all of it boggles the mind! Definitely a very good read...