Volume 94, Issue 24
Thursday, October 12, 2000
|ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
Bio bashes Nixon
While Nixon was unquestionably a man of many moods and a volatile temper, there is no direct evidence or first-hand accounts of his making decisions as commander-in-chief, under the influence of narcotics. Even more unbelievable, is his disturbing claim the president physically abused his wife, Pat, on at least one occasion. Indeed, all of Summers' accusations can be traced back to second and third-person accounts of alleged incidents.
Another shocking claim the book suggests, is that Nixon interfered with President Lyndon Johnson's peace initiative in Vietnam. This was supposedly done in order to prolong the conflict there and aid his own 1968 presidential election campaign at the expense of his Democratic opponent, former Vice President Hubert Humphrey.
While this charge is again highly suspect, Summers seeks to present it as yet another example of Nixon's inherently evil nature. "He escaped full opprobrium for his behavior while he was alive, yet the evidence implies a sin and a cynicism worse than any of the offenses that would later make headlines," the book states.
It cannot be denied that Anthony Summers is a fine writer. The Arrogance of Power is an exceptional read, chock-full of interesting insights. He is not, however, a legitimate presidential historian. Rather Summers is a student of popular culture, a BBC network journalist whose past works include controversial biographies of such American celebrities as Marilyn Monroe.
This book fails to shed any new light on the Nixon administration's achievements or missteps and deals with the Watergate period in a fairly conventional way. In short, it's all been done before only better.
Copyright © The Gazette 2000