A Companion to Richard M. Nixon

A Companion to Richard M. Nixon

A Companion to Richard M. Nixon

A Companion to Richard M. Nixon

Synopsis

This companion offers an overview of Richard M. Nixon's life, presidency, and legacy, as well as a detailed look at the evolution and current state, of Nixon scholarship.
  • Examines the central arguments and scholarly debates that surround his term in office
  • Explores Nixon's legacy and the historical significance of his years as president
  • Covers the full range of topics, from his campaigns for Congress, to his career as Vice-President, to his presidency and Watergate
  • Makes extensive use of the recent paper and electronic releases from the Nixon Presidential Materials Project

Excerpt

Nearly forty years after he left office, Richard Nixon remains one of the most controversial, if not the most controversial, presidents in American history. Many of his supporters hail him as the brilliant master of US foreign policy who opened relations with the People’s Republic of China, launched a détente with the Soviet Union that led to the end of the Cold War, and ended American participation in the Vietnam War. They applaud his pragmatic, nonideological approach to achieving a more peaceful world. And they gush over his inventiveness, such as playing the China card to win major concessions from both Beijing and Moscow. Indeed, for many observers, his diplomatic achievements overshadowed the worst political scandal in American history and made it possible for the disgraced former president to emerge during the last two decades of his life as a sagacious elder statesperson, a valuable national resource, whose books and articles positively influenced not only his successors’ foreign policies, but the national debate about those policies.

His many detractors find fault not only with his diplomatic activities but also with the manner in which he conducted them. According to them, although his opening to China was certainly a positive accomplishment, it netted the United States little over the next decade or more. In addition, his détente with the Soviet Union, in which he may have given away the store in his Strategic Arms Limitation Agreement and the wheat deal, collapsed pretty quickly to a point where President Gerald Ford had to disassociate himself from that policy in the 1976 presidential campaign. Finally, although he claimed credit for ending the Vietnam War with a peace with honor, critics suggested he could have made the same concessions to Hanoi much earlier that might have ended the war in 1970 or so, and . . .

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