Kenneth (kensmind) wrote in bookish,

Book Review: Nixon's Darkest Secrets

Veteran journalist Don Fulsom, the author of Nixon's Darkest Secrets: The Inside Story of America's Most Troubled President, has no love for his subject, and it becomes apparent that much of the contempt Fulsom expresses for Richard Milhous Nixon is personal. But that doesn't mean that most of the accusations that Fulsom levels at Nixon aren't without merit and substance to one degree or another. Fulsom has drawn upon his various contacts in the Nixon administration, as well recently declassified recordings of Nixon's personal conversations to support a number of very serious allegations about Nixon's actions, associations and his character. Fulsom answers a question that many of us have wondered: why would Nixon record such potentially damaging conversations? The answer lies in some legal advice Nixon had once received that documents and paper were subject to review by subpoena but recorded conversations weren't. At least they weren't before a little thing called Watergate.

Fulsom explores some of the more well-known of Nixon's transgressions: his complicity in the Watergate break-in, his lying about the bombing of Cambodia and his abuse of staff members like his press secretary Ron Ziegler. But Fulsom also shines a light of some of the things that the pre-Watergate media refused to touch: Nixon's connections to mobsters like Carlos Marcello and Sam Giancana, his drinking problem, his physical abuse of his spouse and his ordering the killing of journalist Jack Anderson, a plot that was thwarted only because of the arrest of the Watergate burglars.

Fulsom makes a less convincing case for one of the book's most sensational claims: that Nixon may have had a homosexual relationship with his best friend, the shady Beebe Rebozo. He also hints obliquely in the book several times suggesting that Nixon may have had a hand in the assassination of John F. Kennedy, but does not furnish enough proof to connect the dots on this one. In these areas Fulsom may have let his personal animosity overtake his professionalism.

Despite initial concerns that this book would be National Enquirer style history that bases the most serious allegations on flimsy evidence, Fulsom surprises the reader with credible sources and references to recordings which back up the author's claim. Nixon says some contemptible things on tape and Fulsom quotes directly from many of them. In 242 pages, despite going offside at times, Fulsom pleasantly surprises by presenting a credible case that Nixon was as unprincipled and that his ethics were indeed as skewed as many imagine. On Amazon I rated this book four stars out of five.
Tags: author: f, genre: non-fiction, review, subject: biography, subject: history

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