The author of In Search of Nixon, Bruce Mazlish, a professor of history, received his Ph. D. from Columbia University. Western intellectual and cultural history as well as science and technology are his areas of interest and expertise. He is also intrigued with the culture of capitalism and history of the sciences. He is an authority in the interdisciplinary field of psychohistory as well as historical methodology. He has recently tried at an effort to conceptualize global history. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and in 1986 he was awarded the Toynbee Prize, an international prize in social science. Some of his other works include The Uncertain Sciences, The Fourth Discontinuity, The Co-evolution of Humans and Machines, and A New Science: The Breakdown of Connections and the Birth of Sociology.
In reading over the review put out by Book World, I must say that I do and do not agree with its content. I feel that this book could have been put forth to be more publicly accepted and interesting. Book World portrays it as being pure silliness. I don’t feel that this is the case. There is plenty of good fact in this book, but along with the fact comes much analysis. Book World also states in the review that it is missing much information, which I disagree with. They say that Nixon’s childhood is vague, but in fact I got much out of this book about his childhood. It may not have been on the surface of reading the book, but it was there.
I do feel though that there were significant parts to the book not so much as missing, but scattered throughout the book. The book could have been much easier to read if it were set in chronological order by the dates leading up to the most recent details of Richard Nixon’s life. I do agree with the last sentence of the review in that Richard Nixon is in fact a very complex person, and for his thoughts to be analyzed along with his actions would be almost impossible to strike square on the nose.
The second review by The New York Times is very complementary compared to Book World’s review. Here they are saying that his book is quite an accomplishment with much value to his fellow psycho-historians. I feel that if you are one of analysis, this book is definitely for you because it contains pure fact, along with major analysis. Although it is a book of high regards, I don’t feel that it is portrayed in an orderly fashion. Mazlish is very choppy in how he goes about the different sections of the book. He jumps from subject to subject and from year to year like the reader is supposed to totally be following his every word. I can tell from his writing that Mazlish is a very intelligent man and that many people, if into the psycho-historical outlook, would enjoy this book. I also agree with New York Times that this book is very mild in terms of judgment upon Nixon.
Richard M. Nixon was born on January 9th, 1913 in Yorba Linda, California. He lived with his mother and father and four other brothers. His grandmother was said to have set the standards for the whole family with humanitarian ideals. She had strong feelings on pacifism and civil liberties. Nixon acquired the Protestant Ethic from his mother, Hannah Milhous, which played a huge role in his life. The first many years for this family was very hard, being that Nixon’s older brother Harold was diagnosed with tuberculosis. Hannah and Harold moved away from the family to Arizona in hopes of finding a cure, leaving the other three kids and their father, Frank, home alone. In the midst of all this, Arthur, the youngest boy, developed tubercular meningitis and died a week after becoming ill. Hannah and Harold returned with no cure and shortly thereafter, Harold passed away as well. In accumulation of his boyhood, it can be thought that Richard Nixon “felt betrayed by his mother, guilt over death wishes, and anxiety over death fears.”
Richard Nixon’s father was not nearly as successful as Richard would end up turning out to be. He was known as a man of many jobs who never ultimately succeeded. It is thought that Richard went from a man of his mother being hard working and persistent to a man of his father with dislike of newspapermen and love of campaigns. Richard felt the need to redeem his father by being successful. It was said that Richard’s father was an inspiration to become a lawyer and enter politics. Frank gave up Methodism when he married Hannah and they raised their kids as Quakers which had a great influence on Richard Nixon’s life.
Richard attended Duke Law School where he became quite successful. He was elected president of the freshman class, and as a junior became chairman of traditional undergrad escapade. This is where Nixon found that his ability was verbal and that he was a debater. After graduation he went job hunting in New York. This found itself to be unsuccessful so he returned to Whitter, his home town, to practice law where he became involved in the Southern Strategy, the East, and big cities.
Nixon soon found himself in love with a woman named Pat Ryan. With the outbreak of WWII these newlyweds found themselves in Washington D.C. where Nixon worked for the Office of Price Administration. Nixon obtained a commission and served in the South Pacific between 1942 and 1946. Nixon’s views on government and domestic and foreign policy were greatly affected by WWII and The Great Depression.
By the age of 33, Nixon was elected to the Eightieth Congress where he served two terms, then ran successfully for the Senate in 1950. At the age of 39 he was elected Vice President. In 1968 Nixon won the presidency in an almost equally close contest and was re-elected in 1972.
Nixon’s campaigning used methods of political packaging techniques along with communism innuendos. He became known as a product of the Cold War who would do anything to win an election. Nixon came to be a strong Republican.
In 1962, when Nixon ran for governor of California and lost, he was driven to New York where he joined the law firm of his earlier dreams. After this move, he worked at gaining a good reputation and in 1972, Nixon ran for President and won by a landslide with 520 electoral votes to 17 and a margin of almost 18 million popular votes.
Nixon went about a course in both foreign and domestic policy that attempted to update Federalism, to restore the entire welfare system with the idea of a guaranteed annual income, and worked to promote a grand design for U.S. diplomacy.
Domestic Policy: Nixon’s domestic programs were described as the New American Revolution. He pursued reform in five domestic areas: economic policy, welfare policy, civil rights policy, environmental policy, and reorganization of the executive branch of government all through administrative action. Nixon considered his success in desegregating southern schools and his Supreme Court appointments his most important achievements in domestic policy. Other domestic achievements by Nixon included his wars against cancer, labor legislation, crime, taxes, welfare, illegal drugs, and hunger along with revenue sharing and environmental and land-use policies. Nixon’s civil rights enforcement budget for fiscal 1973 represented an eightfold increase over Johnson’s for 1969.
Domestic Policy: Nixon began working with Henry Kissinger in 1968 when they created the first system for managing foreign policy under White House domination by reorganizing the NSC, making the NSC the principal foreign policy forum in the White House. Nixon first sought to bring military pressure to bear on the North Vietnamese in order to speed up the negotiating process. But Nixon failed in convincing the country that quick withdrawal from Nietnam would damage American strategic interests all over the world. Nixon allowed Kissinger to be head of NSC and become involved in secret negotiations with the North Vietnamese. Nixon went about steps to establish a new policy toward the People’s Republic of China: American anti-Chinese speech making had to be toned down, trade and visa restrictions would be reduced, and U.S. troop levels in Vietnam would be reduced. One of the most important foreign policy discussions that took place during Richard Nixon’s term concerned National Security Study Memorandum. The Rogers Plan was successful in calling for an American-Soviet agreement on a comprehensive peace settleent in the Middle East and for a more evenhanded public posture toward both the Israelis and the Arabs.