“Perlstein...aims here at nothing less than weaving a tapestry of social upheaval. His success is dazzling.” —Los Angeles Times
“Both brilliant and fun, a consuming journey back into the making of modern politics.” —Jon Meacham
“Nixonland is a grand historical epic. Rick Perlstein has turned a story we think we know—American politics between the opposing presidential landslides of 1964 and 1972—into an often-surprising and always-fascinating new narrative.” —Jeffrey Toobin
Rick Perlstein’s bestselling account of how the Nixon era laid the groundwork for the political divide that marks our country today.
Told with vivid urgency and sharp political insight, Nixonland recaptures America’s turbulent 1960s and early 1970s and reveals how Richard Nixon rose from the political grave to seize and hold the presidency of the United States. Perlstein’s epic account begins in the blood and fire of the 1965 Watts riots, nine months after Lyndon Johnson’s historic landslide victory over Barry Goldwater appeared to herald a permanent liberal consensus in the United States. Yet the next year, scores of liberals were tossed out of Congress, America was more divided than ever, and a disgraced politician was on his way to a shocking comeback: Richard Nixon. Between 1965 and 1972 America experienced no less than a second civil war. Out of its ashes, the political world we know now was born. Filled with prodigious research and driven by a powerful narrative, Rick Perlstein’s magisterial account of how it all happened confirms his place as one of our country’s most celebrated historians.
Perlstein, winner of a Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus, provides a compelling account of Richard Nixon as a masterful harvester of negative energy, turning the turmoil of the 1960s into a ladder to political notoriety. Perlstein's key narrative begins at about the time of the Watts riots, in the shadow of Lyndon Johnson's overwhelming 1964 victory at the polls against Goldwater, which left America's conservative movement broken. Through shrewdly selected anecdotes, Perlstein demonstrates the many ways Nixon used riots, anti Vietnam War protests, the drug culture and other displays of unrest as an easy relief against which to frame his pitch for his narrow win of 1968 and landslide victory of 1972. Nixon spoke of solid, old-fashioned American values, law and order and respect for the traditional hierarchy. In this way, says Perlstein, Nixon created a new dividing line in the rhetoric of American political life that remains with us today. At the same time, Perlstein illuminates the many demons that haunted Nixon, especially how he came to view his political adversaries as "enemies" of both himself and the nation and brought about his own downfall. 16 pages of b&w photos.