Nixon was elected president of the United States in 1968. The question is how that could have happened when most of us were sure his political career was over just a few years earlier. He had lost his bid to Kennedy in 1960 and hadn't won an election since. He'd lost the election for California governor in 1962 and then had called a press conference to let us know he was finished with politics.
So how did a man with no political future, who said he was through with politics, become president of the United States just a few years later? That is what Buchanan covers in this book.
Buchanan came on to Nixon's team in 1966 at age 27. He would be with Nixon through August, 1974. Buchanan began cleaning up Nixon's backlog of mail, doing research and writing daily memos. His job, Buchanan writes, was “to use my position to make Richard Nixon President of the United States.” (35) He was soon writing for Nixon and traveling with him.
Nixon had his eye on the presidency and was willing to pay the price for it. He worked to make friends and allies in the Republican Party, endorsing particular candidates and making certain comments. By the fall of 1966, Nixon “was the lone national Republican acceptable to all factions.” (101) In addition to the hard work, opponents gave Nixon a break. Of the 1968 candidating and nominating process, Buchanan writes, “To my surprise, our opponents never really went after Nixon's character as the Kennedy crowd had in 1960.” (210)
This is a very personal account of the political comeback. Buchanan has included many stories of his own role and involvement in the comeback. There are also many revealing anecdotes about Nixon. “When Nixon trusted you he would let down his guard, and I got to know him better than any other boss I ever knew.” (188)
One really gets a sense of the history of the time, including the political issues, the war in Viet Nam, and the civil rights issues. Anyone interested in the ways of politics will find lots of information about the late 1960s in the book. It certainly reveals the drive of Nixon on his way to the White House. Buchanan really admired Nixon and that comes through in this book.
Patrick J. Buchanan, America's leading populist conservative, was a senior adviser to three U.S. presidents, ran for the Republican nomination in 1992 and 1996, and was the Reform Party's presidential candidate in 2000. He is the author of eleven books and a syndicated columnist. He lives in McLean, Virginia.
Crown Forum, 392 pages.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of an independent and honest review.