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Extended Audio Sample Being Nixon: A Man Divided, by Evan Thomas Click for printable size audiobook cover
0 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 5 0.00 (0 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Evan Thomas Narrator: Bob Walter Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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Evan Thomas delivers the best single-volume biography of Richard Nixon to date, a radical, unique portrait of a complicated figure who was both determinedly optimistic and tragically flawed. Thomas brings new life to one of American history’s most infamous, paradoxical, and enigmatic politicians, dispensing with myths to achieve an intimate and evenhanded look at the actual man.

What drove a painfully shy outcast in elite Washington society—a man so self-conscious he refused to make eye contact during meetings—to pursue power and public office? How did a president so attuned to the American political id that he won reelection in a historic landslide lack the self-awareness to recognize the gaping character flaws that would drive him from office and forever taint his legacy?

In Being Nixon, Evan Thomas peels away the layers of the complex, confounding figure who became America’s thirty-seventh president. The son of devout Quakers, Richard Nixon (not unlike his rival John F. Kennedy) grew up in the shadow of an older, favored brother and thrived on conflict and opposition. Through high school and college, in the navy and in politics, he was constantly leading crusades and fighting off enemies real and imagined. As maudlin as he was Machiavellian, Nixon possessed the plainspoken eloquence to reduce American television audiences to tears with his career-saving “Checkers” speech; meanwhile, his darker half hatched schemes designed to take down his political foes, earning him the notorious nickname “Tricky Dick.”

Drawing on a wide range of historical accounts, Thomas reveals the contradictions of a leader whose vision and foresight led him to achieve détente with the Soviet Union and reestablish relations with communist China, but whose underhanded political tactics tainted his reputation long before the Watergate scandal. One of the principal architects of the modern Republican Party and its “silent majority” of disaffected whites and conservative ex-Dixiecrats, Nixon was also deemed a liberal in some quarters for his efforts to desegregate Southern schools, create the Environmental Protection Agency, and end the draft.

A deeply insightful character study as well as a brilliant political biography, Being Nixon offers a surprising look at a man capable of great bravery and extraordinary deviousness—a balanced portrait of a president too often reduced to caricature.

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Quotes & Awards

  • How self-aware are the great men of history? That’s the fascinating question at the heart of Evan Thomas’s new book on Richard Nixon. . . . Here in one sharp and briskly written volume is what you really want to know about the great and horrible thirty-seventh President: How could someone so wise about the world be so utterly clueless about himself? . . . [Nixon] is revealed in Thomas’s hands as awkward, striving, victimized and alone—strange habits for a man who opted for such a public life, and traits that carried the seeds of his destruction. Time
  • Ambitious . . . Thomas’s book is filled with anecdotes that humanize Nixon. There are pages suggesting real insight and, especially, how the president was seen by those around him. . . . There are well-crafted word-pictures of Nixon throughout the narrative, from his legendary awkwardness to his catastrophic frustration and vindictive rage. Carl Bernstein, The Washington Post
  • A well-written and balanced account . . . gracefully written and highly readable . . . [Thomas’s] interest goes to the man himself, like most of us a man of contradictions, a man with a dark and light side, with the dark side often leading to disastrous decisions, encouraged by his increasingly tight circle of self-serving advisers. The Washington Times
  • [Nixon’s] oddity, more than any policy choices or impeachable crimes, is the subject of this book, which is marked by unexpected and startling empathy. . . . One feels for Nixon. The New Yorker
  • [A] glossy, armchair-ready biography . . . [a] book in tune with our time. It’s a trick of fate that Nixon, a sitting president who experienced a version of supersize public shaming, might have appreciated for its futuristic appeal. Instead of being passively read, Being Nixon invites argument. The New York Times
  • “What was it really like to be Richard Nixon? Evan Thomas tackles this fascinating question…The result is both insightful history and an astonishingly compelling psychological portrait.”

    Walter Isaacson, #1 New York Times bestselling author

  • What was it really like to be Richard Nixon? Evan Thomas tackles this fascinating question by peeling back the layers of a man driven by a poignant mix of optimism and fear. The result is both insightful history and an astonishingly compelling psychological portrait of an anxious introvert who struggled to be a transformative statesman. Walter Isaacson, author of Steve Jobs
     
  • An infamous, polarizing, and enigmatic political figure—President Richard Nixon—comes to life in a surprising and engaging look at a man capable of great bravery and extraordinary deviousness. Publishers Weekly
  • As Thomas’s biographical—and sometimes psychobiographical—study builds, it becomes ever more unlikely that Nixon, a loner in the constituency-pleasing game of politics, could ever have succeeded. . . . This is one of the better books on Nixon in the recent crop. Kirkus Reviews
  • The great Evan Thomas has brought us a measured, concise, and important American biography. Now that the shouting and tumult have faded and Richard Nixon moves from our contemporary politics toward history, Thomas offers wise insights, based on many new sources, achieving what might have seemed impossible: He has rendered a new Nixon who, in vital and unexpected ways, is very different from the character about whom, for the past seventy years, so much has been said and written. Michael Beschloss, author of Presidential Courage: Brave Leaders and How They Changed America 1789–1989
  • Richard Nixon is one of the most complex and fascinating characters in American history. In this poignant, revealing, and compellingly readable book, Evan Thomas makes him human. Jay Winik, author of April 1865 and The Great Upheaval
  • In the sprawling literature surrounding the only American president to resign from office, Being Nixon stands apart. For while many have praised or damned Richard Nixon from afar, poked and prodded at his psyche and tapes, struggled to understand the mysterious sources of his enduring communion with the American spirit, Evan Thomas is the first writer daring enough to aspire to be Nixon. The result is a supremely rewarding portrait, refined yet readable, unsparing and generous, rich in history with fresh research and evidence: a ‘new Nixon’ for the twenty-first century, innovative and invaluable. James Rosen, Fox News chief Washington correspondent and author of The Strong Man: John Mitchell and the Secrets of Watergate
  • [A] fully rounded portrait, carefully pairing each indictment of Nixon with a mitigating perspective . . . Thomas has a fine eye for the telling quote and the funny vignette, and his style is eminently readable. The New York Times Book Review
     
  • From Nixon’s hardscrabble California childhood to his post-presidential exile, Thomas proves an amiable and fair-minded tour guide. . . . The result, in Thomas’s rendering, is a man of intertwined threads, in some ways the personification of the contending passions of American life of the period. The Boston Globe
  • A biography of eloquence and breadth . . . No single volume about Nixon’s long and interesting life could be so comprehensive. Chicago Tribune
  • Terrifically engaging . . . a fair, insightful and highly entertaining portrait of the thirty-seventh president . . . Being Nixon should be read by anyone with a more open mind about the oddest man ever to occupy the Oval Office. Max Boot, The Wall Street Journal
     
  • “Sharp and briskly written.”

    Time

  • “Terrifically engaging…Being Nixon should be read by anyone with a more open mind about the oddest man ever to occupy the Oval Office..A fair, insightful, and highly entertaining portrait.”

    Wall Street Journal

  • “[An] armchair-ready biography…[a] book in tune with our time.”

    New York Times

  • “[A] fully rounded portrait, carefully pairing each indictment of Nixon with a mitigating perspective…Thomas has a fine eye for the telling quote and the funny vignette, and his style is eminently readable.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “Thomas’ book is filled with anecdotes that humanize Nixon. There are pages suggesting real insight and, especially, how the president was seen by those around him.”

    Washington Post

  • “A biography of eloquence and breadth…No [other] single volume about Nixon’s long and interesting life could be so comprehensive.”

    Chicago Tribune

  • “Thomas proves an amiable and fair-minded tour guide.”

    Boston Globe

  • “Narrator Bob Walter’s baritone pitch and thoughtful inflections and pacing create a perfect match for this masterful biography…Walter’s performance is absolutely engrossing.”

    AudioFile

  • A New York Times Bestseller
  • A Time Magazine Best Book of 2015
  • A Richmond Times-Dispatch Best Book of 2015
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